25 January 2014, Abuja — The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Environment, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, over compensation issues on Bonga oil spill.
The Environment Committee, led by Uche Ekwunife, APGA, Anambra State, summoned the agencies, following the December 20, 2011, Bonga oil spill and to explain why compensation has not been paid to affected communities .
The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, were also invited, among others.
The Minister and the agencies are expected to explain their roles over the effects of chemical used by Shell to disperse the oil spillage at sea in the affected communities.
The communities alleged that the dispersant led to disruption of their fishing activities and other sources of livelihood and lamented that the oil company had not been forthcoming.
The communities are spread among Warri North, Warri South West and Burutu Local Government Councils of Delta State as well as Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Councils of Bayelsa State.
The move by Ekwenife-led House Committee has, however, succeeded in averting the shut down of operations of major international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta area.
Plans to picket IOCs
Coordinator of the communities, Amona Monday, said the community and youth leaders in the affected communities had completed plans to picket minor oil companies in the Niger Delta area and disrupt their services, having failed to peacefully resolve the issue with Shell.
He said: “Fortunately, the affected communities got a letter from the House of Representatives Committee on Environment inviting us and Shell as well as other regulatory and administrative bodies to a meeting on 28th of this month.
“Being law abiding citizens, we have to stop our earlier plan because all we are asking is the opportunity to bring Shell to the table and let them do what is right for the people.
“The communities’ resolve to picket the IOCs was informed by allegations of connivance against some regulatory officials and Shell to delay or thwart compensation due them following the spill.
“Besides, NOSDRA, NIMASA, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, as well as other administrative and regulatory bodies confirmed that the said pollutants did affect a large area of the sea, where our people carry out their fishing and other sources of economic livelihood.
Government confirms spill
“Despite government confirming the said pollutants and its effects on our health and socio-economic life, there is a need for dialogue with a view to ensure that the matter is resolved amicably.”
According to him, part of the reasons to picket the IOCs is a result of the inadequacy of relief materials provided for the affected communities by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
“We are appreciative of the efforts of NEMA that has given us some relief materials but they are grossly inadequate because the challenges facing these people can only be imagined.
“The affected Communities with an average population of about 6,000 benefited a bag of rice, beans, salt, sugar, garri, a carton of soap, milo so also as other materials supplied was shared, while some Communities did not benefit from the supplied relief materials.”
*Emman Ovuakporie – Vanguard