Bayelsa govt accuses exploration companies of environmental terrorism

07 March 2016, Yenagoa – The Governor of Bayelsa state, Henry Seriake Dickson, on Sunday accused oil exploration companies operating in the Niger-Delta region of perpetrating environmental terrorism.

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Governor Henry Seriake-Dickson of Bayelsa State

Dickson also alleged that Agip Petroleum Nigeria Ltd had a record of 1000 incidents of environment ‎pollution cases within a year.

The Governor said that oil exploration companies had over the years refused to sanitize the environment polluted through the exploration processes, thereby leaving past, present and future generations of Niger Delta people as as victims.

He stated in Yenegoa while receiving the Minister of Environment, Ms. Amina Muhammed and the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril on a stakeholders engagement visit ahead of the implementation of the UNEP report on environmental clean-up in the Niger-Delta region.

The Governor who observed that environment polluted by oil exploration companies started in the present day Bayelsa state, said cleaning -up the environment requires political will marched with actions.

“To clean-up the Niger Delta goes beyond promises, courtesy visits and press statements, we pray that this signals a genuine commitment to solve the accumulated problems. Bayelsa is the heart of the Niger Delta, with all its blessings, prospects and challenges, this is where it all started,” he said.

Although, Dickson welcome the 2011 report of the United Nations Environmental Programme ( UNEP) which stipulated that the clean-up should begin from Ogoni land, he noted that the pollution started from the Ijaw land in Bayelsa state.

“Let the truth be told, Bayelsa is the headquarters of pollution, environmental degradation and environmental terrorism, Bayelsa is central to the story of Nigeria’s oil production,” he said.

Dickson added that the Ijaw nations has over the years borne the brunt of providing revenue for the whole nations.

“From 1958 till now, we have borne the brunt of providing revenue to the whole nation, we are happy to do so, but the side effect is injurious. It is imperative for the clean-up to begin in Ogoni land, in all of these, this is where the oil production started, gas flaring started here, we witness pol‎lution activities everyday, even today as we speak.”

He however expressed commitment to partner with the federal government on the clean-up project.

“You are going to find a partner in us, we are committed to working with you all the way,” he stated.

Meanwhile, ‎ traditional leaders of the Ogoni communities in Rivers State have appealed to the federal government to ensure a mop-up of arms and arms bearing criminals from the area, ahead of the government’s planned implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme ( UNEP) 2011 report on environmental clean-up.

The royal fathers also urged the government to increase military presence in Ogoni land, but charged the security operatives on maximum caution and professionalism.

The President, Supreme Council of Ogoni traditional rulers, and the traditional ruler of Tai kingdom, Gbene Mene of Tai, HRM. Godwin Giniwa, made this appeal at the weekend , while receiving the Minister of Environment, Ms. Amina Muhammed and the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril in his palace.

Giniwa, who spoke on behalf of other ‎Ogoni traditional rulers and chiefs present at the palace noted that the security situation in the area had degenerated to a dangerous situation.

He added that governments genuine intention to protect Ogoni people from arms bearing criminals in the resent military operation in the area was politicised.

According to him, Ogoni is found in a dangerous situation where arms and arms bearing criminals are present in every community.

The traditional leaders hereby pledged their support to the deployment of military operatives into Ogoni land until all arms in the communities are mopped-up.

“The genuine intention of the government to sanitise Ogoni land from arms and ammunition in the recent military operation was politicized. We hereby support the deployment of military operatives to Ogoni land until the the last arm is mopped-up, while they maintain professionalism. This is most important as the clean-up is coming.” he said.

Speaking on the planned implementation of the UNEP report, Giniwa said the move was a realisation of a it a long standing struggle of the Ogoni people, adding that the feat was never realised during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who hailed from the Niger Delta area.

“We are happy that President Buhari kept faith with us,‎ we are happy with the President, this is a threshold never realised when our son was president. We’ll advice the government on the implementation,” he said.

The traditional ruler however warned that a splinter group among the Ogoni people were ready to distract the implementation as planned by the government.

“Splinter groups have sprang up everywhere, laying misleading claims capable of distracting the government., but as the father body of all organisations in Ogoni land, I assure you of the commitment of all important and notable stakeholders in Ogoni land. Ogoni people are eternally grateful to Mr. President fufiling his campaign promises to the Ogoni people, this marks the actualisation of the collective dream of the Ogoni people,” he said.

The minister, who solicited support and cooperation of stakeholders towards the implementation, said addressing polluted issues in the Niger-Delta is a step in the right direction.

She urged all groups within the Ogoni communities to embrace peace.

Muhammed noted that without an atmosphere of peace, there will not be a meaningful development and respect for human rights.

“We underscore and plead that peace should be the watchword for everybody, peace is going to be key, the environment needs to unite is. The environment does not belong to any one group than the other, without peace, there cannot be development and respect for human rights. We plead for cooperation in the clean-up of soil, water and air of Ogoni,” she said.

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