ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – World human rights body, Amnesty International (AI) and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), have indicted the oil giant, Shell and the Nigerian government’s oil industry watchdog, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), on the environmental pollution arising from the persistent oil spillage in the Niger-Delta region.
This was the major outcome of the new report launched on Tuesday at a press conference in Abuja, which exposed what it described as Shell’s blatantly false statements about its efforts to clean up oil spills in the Niger Delta and a seeming cover up by the regulatory agency.
The business and human rights researcher at AI, Mr. Mark Dummett, was quoted to have said; “By inadequately cleaning up the pollution from its pipelines and wells, Shell is leaving thousands of women, men and children exposed to contaminate land, water and air, in some cases for years or even decades.
“Oil spills have a devastating impact on the fields, forests and fisheries that the people of the Niger Delta depend on for their food and livelihood. Anyone who visits these spill sites can see and smell for themselves how the pollution has spread across the land.”
The report, which was read by the press officer, AI Nigeria, Ms. Eulette Ewart, and as well as AI Nigeria, Country Director, Amb. Mohammed Ibrahim, also documents the failure of the Federal Government to regulate the oil industry, including Shell’s activities, alleging that NOSDRA, “is under-resourced and continues to certify areas as clean that are visibly polluted with crude oil”.
Ibrahim said that the report titled ‘Clean it Up: Shell’s false claims about oil spills in the Niger Delta’ documents oingoing contamination at four oil spill sites that shell claimed to have cleaned up years ago.
At one of the locations, he said, Shell’s Bomu Well 11, researchers found blackened soil and layers of oil on the water, 45 years after an oil spill took place-even though Shell claims to have cleaned up twice, in 1975 and 2012. He also noted that at the others sites certified as cleaned by NOSDRA, researchers found soil and water contaminated by oil close to where people lived and farmed.
He said that AI’s report is being published to mark the 20th anniversary of the execution, on November 10, 1995, of the environmental activist and writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned tirelessly against the damage caused by the oil industry in the Niger-Delta.
“One of the tragic things about the Niger-Delta is that immediately they come out of PHC it looks as if they have been to London. After the death of Ken Saro Wiwa the demand for environmental sustainability died down,” Ibrahim said.
In the same vein, the Director of Programmes, CEHRD, Mr. Stevyn Obodoekwe, was quoted to have said: “As people in Nigeria and around the world remember Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni leaders who were executed in 1995, Shell and the government of Nigeria cannot ignore the terrible legacy of the oil industry in the Niger-Delta.
“The quality of life of the people living surrounded by oil fumes, oil encrusted soil and rivers awash with crude oil is appalling, and has been for decades.”
Also, the Director at Citizen Research Services and a citizen of Ogoniland, Mr. Erabanabari Tobah, made it clear that both Shell and the Federal Government have not shown enough commitment to cleaning up the oil spill polluted environment of the Niger-Delta.
Tobah also said that the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari for the cleaning up of Ogoniland is just a mere pronouncement that is yet to be implement and hence of no effect.