Catholic Bishops’ Conference condemns Government/Shell over Ogoni UNEP report

George Onah

24 August, 2011, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference, South-South region, has condemned Shell Petroleum Development Company for not living up to its operational and corporate principles occasioning the “horrifying details of environmental abuse through successive oil spills and sheer neglect of responsibility by SPDC”.

In a communiqué after a plenary, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the clergymen said they were “dismayed at the fact that our government was well aware of these facts (massive oil spill) but did not proactively initiate remedial action to assuage the sufferings of our people”.

Signed by Archbishop Joseph Ukpo, and Fr. Edward Obi, chairman and secretary respectively, the bishops want the government to “immediately put in place a mechanism for sustainable supply of potable water to affected communities.

Also, to initiate a complete restricting of regulatory agencies such as NOSDRA, DPR, ministry of environment and EGASPIN framework for effective and accountable service delivery.

In addition we urge the government to commission and publish a comprehensive and systemic survey of environmental degradation across the Niger Delta.

In doing this, we expect that the protection of land, waters and health of communities should be paramount. Again, Shell is to apply internationally accepted standards in their operations in the Niger Delta”.

Further to this, the church leaders called on “shareholders of Shell to hold the company accountable for its practices” and that they recognized the pains and sufferings that communities have endured over the years, as well as the degradation of the ecosystem”.

But the Bishops’ forum appealed to the Ogoni people to apply wisdom while pursuing their “legitimate rights. We urge them to refrain from acts of violence and vandalism of oil installations. We are committed to working assiduously with all stakeholders in resolving peacefully the manifold issues affecting the Niger Delta”.

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