02 September 2013, Lagos – The Lagos State Government has picked holes in what it called indiscriminate arrest of innocent residents around Idimu/Ejigbo areas of the state for oil pollution of underground water, saying the residents were arrested and molested without proper investigation.
The Lagos State Commissioner For Environment Mr. Tunji Bello, who expressed displeasure over the development while briefing journalists yesterday said the random arrests by men of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps constitutes an infraction on the residents human rights.
To serve as deterrence, the Commissioner called on the Community Development Associations and leaders in the affected communities to institute legal action against the Federal Government over the exposure of their communities to danger arising from neglect of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to perform its statutory responsibility.
He said while the state government supports every effort and action of the Federal Government to curb stealing of petroleum products and pipeline vandalisation across the nation, it frowns at any act that could constitute an infraction on the rights of residents of the affected areas through unjust arrests by officials of the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps.
According to him, “We recollect that successive administrations in the state has drawn the attention of the Federal Government to concomitant of hazards being experienced by residents of Baruwa- Ipaja, Ilado, Amuwo-Odofin, Ejigbo among others through polluted boreholes, contamination of underground water, ruptured pipelines and seepage of pipelines. Yet, no visible action has regrettably been taken till date by respective agencies of the Federal Government”.
Bello said the state government has records showing that official letters were written by the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000.
He pointed out that the present administration led by Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola equally wrote a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke respectively complaining about the serious oil pollution and high level of degradation that residents of these areas are daily exposed to without getting any response.
The commissioner explained that the state Government in these correspondences did not only complain but also suggested to the Federal Government to consider modern methods of protecting oil pipelines across the country including casing and tamper proof warning devices among other contemporary methods.
He noted that there are many other NNPC pipelines in other parts of Lagos that are ruptured and are not being attended to by relevant agencies of the Federal Government.
According to him, “A case in point is the Diamond Estate where over 137 boreholes/deep wells are affected by the seepage of petroleum products as a result of pipeline vandalisation destroying the source of portable water of inhabitants.
“Two of the estate’s housing units are now seriously affected while their boreholes have turned into oil wells and without any noticeable remedial action from the NNPC”.
Bello urged the NNPC to conduct an integrity test on its numerous pipelines in the state without delay and provide the Lagos State Government with necessary information on how to prevent future re-occurrence.