12 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The people of Aggah community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, have called on the Environmental Rights Action, ERA, to prevail on the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, on flooding in the area.
The community said the call was imperative due to the recurrent flood in the area usually orchestrated by operations of the Italian oil company.
Speaking at a meeting between representatives of the community and ERA, the community alleged that Agip had built its oil producing platforms on the right-of-way, a channel through which water from the community empties into Oloshi River.
President of Egbema Voice of Freedom, Pastor Everistus Nicholas, who led the community in the meeting with ERA, said the development has caused recurrent annual flooding in the community for over 40 years and pleaded for a quick intervention as he said the organisation was it’s last hope.
Nicholas explained that several appeals, engagements, and petitions to the government and Agip, have fallen on deaf ears. He warned that the community will no longer continue to suffer neglect.
“This is the meeting of Aggah people who are stakeholders in the struggle. We are here to chart a way forward on the annual flooding we experience. Agip is committing genocide against us.
“We are glad that the Rivers State House of Assembly has raised a bill on water right-of-way and when passed will help in returning sanity in Aggah. The meeting is reassuring. Agip is a stubborn institution but soon the issue will be resolved because ERA has accepted to help us.”
Also speaking, the Community Development Committee Chairman of Aggah, Mr. Etelbert Ihiedike narrated that every year between the month of June to November yearly, the community does not live in peace because of the flooding.
“Our community experiences flooding since Agip resumed exploration in the community. We have written several letters to them and they have seen that they are the cause but they decided not to do anything.
“We are here to see how ERA can help us talk to Agip to save our situation. ERA has accepted to go and meet Agip, it is reassuring but we don’t want to still raise our hope too much until a solution is provided for our plight,” Nicholas said.
Earlier, the Legal Head of ERA, Barr. Chima Williams, noted the meeting with representatives of Aggah community was to exchange ideas on the situation of the people in respect of the annual flooding.
William said for the community to have called on ERA means that they have the assurance that their effort would impact their struggle for justice.
“We are to help Aggah community put their voices out. Who knows the creator of the problem may hear their voice and come to save the situation or whether the government may hear their cry and come to their aid.
“The international community and the Italian Government which is a major stakeholder in Agip may need to come to the aid of the community. We want to ensure that their voices accentuates so that different stakeholders will come to their rescue.” he said.