11 February 2019, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has described the recent handover of 16 polluted sites in Ogoniland by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, to contractors for remediation, as a monumental fraud.
This comes as HYPREP, the Federal Government agency responsible for implementing the United Nation Environmental Program, UNEP Report in Ogoniland had one month ago handed over 16 polluted sites – tagged as less complex sites – in Ogoni to contractors to commence remediation.
But the Executive Director of ERA, Dr. Godwin Ojo, at the media stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt, argued that the exercise is a monumental fraud, as it will be impossible to carry out any form of remediation in Ogoniland without the setting up of an Integrated Contamination Soil Management Centre and a Centre of Excellence as recommended by UNEP.
Ojo who highlighted HYPREP deviation from UNEP recommendations for the cleanup of Ogoniland, regretted that up till date HYPREP has not really defined its role in the exercise, adding that HYPREP was yet to provide water which UNEP recommended as an emergency measure.
While unveiling 100 community independent monitors trained and equipped by ERA to provide qualitative and scientific progress reports on the cleanup process when it begins, Ojo urged the Federal Ministry of Environment and HYPREP to be transparent in the cleanup of Ogoniland.
“The multiple claims that contractors have mobilized to site and that cleanup has commenced is false as there is no visible sign of contractors going by reports from our independent field monitors who are closely monitoring the process and were there this week.
“The discovery is unfortunate, false and fraudulent, why is the Federal government and its agent, HYPREP, playing with the emotions of concern persons across the world, Nigerians, the affected communities and people of Ogoniland?
“HYPREP should stop the deceit and get serious with the people with the commencement of the implementation of the emergency measures which includes, the provision of potable water, building of the livelihood measures, the construction of the centre of excellence and the Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre, ICSMC, before the cleanup exercise proper, as recommended by the UNEP report.
“As we are here, the verdict on Ogoniland by the UNEP environmental assessment has not changed. Recent visits to the communities indicate that Ogoniland remains a wrecked environment and environmental disaster zone, in spite of the efforts made towards the cleanup, till date, contrary to popular belief, not a drop of oil has been cleaned.”
On the way forward, ERA boss said HYPREP and the Federal Government must comply completely with the concrete recommendations of UNEP, for the benefit of the common people of Ogoni.
He called on HYPREP to develop a five-year work plan to indicate short, medium and long term goals of the project’s life cycle and ensure transparency of the process while tasking the agency to urgently begin the development of the Centre for Excellence and ICSMC as no meaningful clean up will be done without the centre.
“The Federal Government should comply with UNEP recommendation on emergency measures to provide the Ogoni communities water for drinking and other uses. In the short term, the Port Harcourt water corporation should play its statutory role of ensuring every citizen of the state has equal access to safe, adequate and reliable water supply.
“HYPREP should stop so much talk show and begin to implement the serious issue of water provision for the people of the area who are till now consuming the same polluted water heavily contaminated with cancer-causing metal such as benzene which that kills slowly.
“Little wonder the incessant flooding of burial posters, most of which under 50 years, all around Ogoni villages, especially among the villages where the heavy dangerous and unhealthy chemical substance are detected in their underground and facial water bodies.
“HYPREP should set up a database for the information on the remediate process, as well as develop a robust economic empowerment package, programme for local community members involved in artisanal crude oil,” Dr. Ojo said.