Port Harcourt — Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region have urged the federal government to recognise oil and gas pollution as a crime against the environment, and ensure the prosecution of offenders, in order to serve as deterrence.
The Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, who described ecocide as destruction of the natural environment of the earth, urged incoming governments to include a comprehensive energy transition plan that will ensure ownership and control of clean energy systems.
Speaking at the second Niger Delta Alternatives Convergence in Port Harcourt, Bassey lamented that 90 percent of pollution in the Gulf of Guinea region were from oil and gas activities in the Niger Delta.
He called for urgent responses to climate change impacts, including by setting up mechanisms for emergency response to floods, shoreline protection, restoration of mangrove forests, halting of deforestation and proper urban and rural planning.
“Permit me to recommend that the Nigerian government should take steps to recognize ecocide as a crime and ensure the prosecution of offenders going forward. Ecocide in simple terms is the destruction of one’s home, the Earth.
“Any person or entity engaged in activities that lead to large scale and long terms or irreversible destruction of our home, the Earth, should be held to account as an incentive for others to be of good environmental behaviour.We must regain our dignity as a people. We must rebuild our devastated region. We can do it. And the time to do this is now,” he said.
Presenting the Niger Delta Manifesto, Executive Director of We The People, Comrade Ken Henshaw, called for a clear policy for divestment of international oil companies from the oil fields and communities they have exploited for over six decades.
The manifesto demanded for immediate comprehensive audit of the entire region Niger Delta covering health, livelihoods, social and economic impacts of crude oil and gas extraction as well as remediation and restoration impacted territories and reparations for the damage suffered.
Other demands n the manifesto include “Comprehensively address the issues related to artesanal refining of crude oil, stop all forms of oil theft, and hold accomplices to account.
“Legislators to ensure the review of the Petroleum Industry Act, to eliminate the criminalisation of communities and removing vestiges of colonial authorities given to oil companies to determine who the host communities are and to rig the arrangement for developmental supports of the communities.
“The earmarking of 30 per cent of profit of the NNPC for exploration of oil in so-called frontier fields should be deleted from the Act and a definite deadline to end routine gas flaring should be set.
‘Immediate review of the NDDC Act and the release of the forensic audit ordered by the outgoing government. The administration of the 13 percent derivation fund should also be designed to be transparent, inclusive, and fair to impacted communities.”
For his part, a representative of oil communities in Ondo State, Mr Kayode Israel, raised the alarm that ocean surge was about erasing Ayetoro communities from the earth and called for immediate commencement of shoreline protection in the area.
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