20 October 2013, Ukpenekang, Akwa Ibom – The Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth group has commenced verification of victims of the December 2011 oil spill at the Bonga oil facility.
The facility is at Ukpenekang Community in the Ibeno Local Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.
The Head of the Legal Department of the organisation, Mr Chima Williams, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, at Ukpenekang on Sunday.
Williams said that the verification was in line with the demand for compensation over the loss suffered by fishermen, following the spill that affected five coastal states.
The spill from the Bonga facility, belonging to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCo, caused discharges of an estimated 40,000 barrels of crude into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Dec. 20, 2011 spill affected five coastal states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Ondo.
“We are here to verify the membership of the Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN) and ensure that they are real human beings that we are representing and not ghosts.”
Williams said that the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had ordered the fishermen to stay away from the water as the spill lasted.
He said that adherence to the directive by the fishermen had caused them great losses because it deprived them of their source of livelihood.
“As a result of the dangerous nature of the spill, NOSDRA issued an order commanding fishermen who fish in the water, to stay away.
“The fishermen, mostly members of ARFAN, heeded the order and it caused them losses, having deprived them of their source of livelihood.
“That was why they came to ERA for assistance in discussing with the relevant authorities for them to be restituted and given the property they lost,” he said.
NAN recalls that the fishermen association in the affected states had demanded over N400 billion worth of compensation from SNEPCo.
Williams said that the exercise which started in Akwa Ibom, would be conducted in the rest of the affected Niger Delta states.
He said that his group was collaborating with various groups to enlighten and educate the public on how to protect their environment.