04 November 2015, Abuja – The House of Representatives on Tuesday commenced investigation into activities of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta.
NAN reports that the house is investigating alleged burning and destruction of equipment seized from illegal refinery operators in the area by the task force.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja on the investigation, Mr Sule Garo (Kano-APC), Chairman, Ad hoc Committee on Illegal Refineries, said that the house was worried about the environment in the area. Garo explained that the intentions of the house was to bring an end to the despoliation of the Niger Delta environment through burning of equipment confiscated from illegal operators of refineries.
He said that the JTF, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), and affected communities had been invited to testify.
“Others invited to give insight before the committee include Federal Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment on steps they are taking to forestall further despoliation of the Niger Delta environment,” he said. He said that while setting up the committee, the house had noted that communities in the region routinely suffered from the effects of indiscriminate burning and destruction of equipment seized from illegal refineries.
According to Garo, these acts of the task force are usually done without recourse to international best practices. “The action of the JTF has greatly polluted the environment and waters in the area and in the process destroyed farm lands and killed fishes, thereby jeopardizing farming and fishing, which are the mainstay of Niger Delta people,” he said.
He said that the committee was also mandated to investigate the fire outbreak in Azuama Community in Bayelsa on July 9, 2015. He said that the fire, which consumed 14 lives, was allegedly caused by the use of dilapidated infrastructure and equipment by Nigeria Agip Oil Company. The committee, Garo said, would ascertain the circumstances that led to the death of the 14 persons.