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Environmentalists Demand Report on NOSDRA Oil Spill Investigation in Rivers State

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Advocates for environmental justice are demanding the publication of the findings of investigations into oil spills in Aleto and Eteo, two towns in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Their calls are coming weeks after the oil spills in the communities, with no official report from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).

A Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) team has been to the scene of the spill at Aleto more than twice but is yet to publicize its report.

There is no public information about the JIV’s presence at the Eteo site but locals told Nigeria Info that a delegation suspected to be from an oil major visited the scene and disowned the pipeline.

Regulator Relies on Oil Companies to Do its Work -Activists

A renowned human rights lawyer, Ledum Mitee, said he is unsurprised that NOSDRA is yet to release its findings as he alleges the agency relies on international oil companies (IOCs) to do its regulatory work.

“The oil companies should be held accountable for whatever happened in the communities,” Mr. Mitee said.

“Most times, NOSDRA officials do not have a means of transportation, so they rely on these oil companies to go to where they are.’’ 

An environmental justice activist, Fyneface Dumnamene, pointed out that the regulator’s silence on the oil spills in Ogoniland is a bad omen and shows unserious in curbing incessant spills in the Niger Delta.

“The joint investigation visit is not what we should beg for, it is what should be done immediately. I am very worried about the delay and silence of NODSRA,” he said.

“I am in doubt of their existence. This undue silence makes us feel that NOSDRA has been compromised by these oil companies responsible for the spills, as we do not expect NOSDRA to take these things lightly,’’ the Executive Director of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre added.

Mr. Dumnamene urged the NOSDRA office in Port Harcourt to make its JIV team’s official report public.

“It is worrisome that after the Joint Investigation Visit in Aleto over the spill, NOSDRA is yet to release the report. We have checked their website and the report is not available.’’

“I think NOSDRA should make that report public, their first step should be to take measures to contain the effect of the spill, and then do a mop-up,’’ he emphasized.

In the same vein,  environmental rights activist, Celestine Akpobari said NOSDRA‘s silence is a confirmation that the federal government agency relies heavily on oil companies to conduct their JIVs.

“It has been my worry that a regulatory body as NOSDRA does not have what it takes to do an investigation on spills,” he said.

“It is the polluter that provides a means to convey them to the scene. If it happens in the creek the chopper used is provided by the company and you know he who pays the piper detects the tune.”

Mr. Akpobari advised the affected communities to stand their ground and avoid compromising the JIV team’s findings.

“I advise the affected communities to remain calm and not take the laws into their hands so that the enemies of the people do not capitalize on their actions to deny them justice,” he told Nigeria Info.

“They should remain united and allow their representatives to work out ways to bring them justice,’’ he added.

Mr. Dunamene, a native of the Ogoni ethnic nationality, said the spill in Eteo occurred two weeks after the one in Aleto.

He observed that yet another oil spill occurred at the Oke-Olebe stream in Eteo.

He pointed out that the areas have a history of unchecked oil leaks.

“We have videos and photographs of spots affected by the oil spill. There are no visible pipelines close to the affected areas where this spill is discovered.

“The youths of the community had earlier reported an oil spill experienced in 2018, which the community has a case in the supreme court against Shell Development Petroleum (SDP), seeking justice.

“Another oil spill was discovered in November 2022 as crude oil could be seen oozing from the ground and flowing freely under freshwater environment and vegetation,’’ he emphasized.

Spills Kill Fauna and Flora 

The spills have degraded biodiversity in Eleme Local Government Area.

“The water is polluted and there are no fishes in the river for us to feed on. We are calling on the Rivers State government to send delegates to confirm all we have said by visiting the affected areas,” Gift Okwule, an Eteo youth leader said.

“The level of damage is so much on the land. The community cannot do it alone we would involve the owners of the pipelines to account for the losses we have incurred,’’ Dominic Okulolo, the councilor representing Eteo in the Eleme Legislative House voiced out.

Nigeria Info counted four spots, on the Oke-Olebe stream, with crude oil. We were unable to find the source of the leak.


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