Port Harcourt — The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, has said that representation of the Shell Petroleum Development, SPDC on the Board of Trustees and the Governing Council of HYPREP, was inimical to the smooth implementation of the UNEP Report in Ogoniland.
The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP is an agency set up by the Federal Government with the responsibility of implementing the report by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, after five years of assessment and evaluation of hydrocarbon pollution in Ogoniland.
UNEP recommended amongst other things, the remediation of polluted sites in Ogoniland, restoration of livelihoods, setting up of a centre of excellence for the study of oil pollution in Nigeria, provision of potable water as an emergency measure, following the gross contamination of underground water.
But ERA has alleged that apart from being members of the BoT and the Governing Council, SPDC also has its staff seconded to HYPREP ostensibly to provide expertise in the cleanup process.
Programme Manager of ERA, Port Harcourt Office, Mike Karikpo, speaking to our correspondent, said it was ERA’s position that the polluters should only be made to pay for the clean-up and not to run the process.
Karikpo pointed out that it was as a result of the failure of Shell to carry out proper cleanup in the first place that necessitated the invitation of UNEP to conduct the environmental assessment of Ogoniland.
The ERA’s Port Harcourt Manager wondered why the same company who failed to clean-up Ogoniland until UNEP Report, would be allowed to run the process, emphasising that such would amount to conflict of interest.
He also disclosed that research done by ERA shows that local community leaders and civil society groups were uncomfortable with the continuous presence of Shell in HYPREP and the influence the company asserts in the day to day operations of the cleanup process.
“Oil companies like Shell should have no role in the oversight bodies, management and implementation of the process such as the Governing Board and the Board of Trustees, and should not second staff to HYPREP.
“In order to address its devastating legacy of pollution in Nigeria, Shell should also pay for clean-up of the rest of the Niger Delta and compensate communities affected by its activities.
“We call for a global binding treaty to hold corporations accountable for their human rights violations and environmental harm which the polluted Ogoniland amply demonstrates.
“Government should commit to transparency and investigate any allegations of conflicts of interest and failures to clean-up, as well as introduce legislation to make HYPREP truly independent, transparent and accountable.
“The environment is our life, it is not for sale,” ERA stated.