14 September 2011, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt- The people of Goi Salima in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers have frowned at the non-inclusion of the community in the recently released United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report that assessed oil spills in Ogoniland.
The community, whose rivers have allegedly been devastated by years of oil spills, wondered why UNEP failed to include it in the report presented to the Federal Government.
Traditional ruler of the area, Mene Tomii S. Tomii, said on Tuesday that the two major oil spills in the community took place in 2004 and 2008.
Leading journalists to the spill sites, he said fishing, which is the only means of livelihood of his people, had been abandoned as a result of the pollution of the rivers.
He said, “Before the oil spills in 2004 and 2008, Goi community had five sources of water. But these sources of drinkable water have been polluted by oil spills from Shell facilities.
“Again, we have recorded many deaths as a result of the offensive odour from the spills. There are weeks we bury 15 members of the community whose health failed because of the spills that have been a source of environmental hazard.”
The spokesman of the community, Alhaji Muhamad Kobani,also said UNEP’s failure to include Goi Salima as one of the communities devastated by oil spills had worsened their situation.
Describing Goi Salima as the first community to be established in Gokana, Kobani said the indigenes had continued to suffer from illnesses traceable to the effect of the spills.
A former Commissioner for Finance in Rivers State, Chief Kenneth Kobani, expressed surprise that UNEP did not include Goi Salima in its report.
He said, “Shell oil exploration has so devastated the community and the real issue is that the UNEP report on Ogoni oil spills did not mention Goi community as one of the areas affected.
“The oil spills here is criminal because we cannot grow anything, especially yam on the land again. If there is oil spill in Bodo, our community (Goi) suffers much of the effect because the entire spills settle here at last.”