Port Harcourt — Six years after the 2015 oil spill incident, which occurred as a result of equipment failure on the 14″ Ogboinbiri/Tebidaba pipeline operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, victims of the spills are demanding for justice.
The spill which occured on 23rd July 2015, spewed over 60 barrels of crude oil, impacted farmlands, fish ponds, crops, economic trees, logs of wood, fishing canals, etc.
The victims, led by the Head of Akpokowari family, Chief Berepigi Ebiladei, of Olugboboro community, Olodiama Clan of Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State, said the spill occurred on their family land and destroyed their sources of livelihood.
Akpokowari family urged the Environmental Rights Action, to prevail on NAOC to compensate them for their losses, as the impacted environment was no longer useful for their various daily livelihood activities.
“We are the major victims of that spill. And no dime was paid to us, our plea is that Agip should assist the family that owns the land and those whose property were damaged.
“The spill had a devastating impact on our livelihood. Some of us, including myself who had logs of wood in the bush/swamp couldn’t make use of the woods again as the crude oil impacted and rendered them useless.
“Many fish ponds were also affected and; up till this moment, Olugboboro has not received any form of relief materials or compensation for victims whose property and means of livelihood were negatively affected.
“We suffered a lot of denial; as the impacted environment was no longer useful for our various daily economic and livelihood activities. And the area seriously impacted belongs to the Akpokowari family which is also the family I belong to in Olugboboro community.
“That is the more reason we are here. Fish ponds, farms, farmlands and other property belonging to us were affected. Though it has taken some time now, but when you are oppressed in that way even if we can’t go and fight them; we feel this is the best approach to get at them to realize our aims.”
Also, the Chairman of Olugboboro Community Development Committee, Otobo Ikiebimo, attested to the fact that the 23rd July, 2015 oil spill from Agip pipeline occurred on Akpokowari family land and, called on NAOC to do the needful.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria, has maintained that the polluter should pay for damages or losses incurred by individuals or community during oil spills incidents.
Head of ERA, Bayelsa Office, Mr Alagoa Morris, regretted that so much crude oil has been left to spread into the environment, absorbed by plants and other materials or leached into the soil, while urging the Akpokowari family to follow legitimate routes in seeking for justice.
“There is need for NAOC and Akpokowari family to meet and amicably resolve the lingering Environmental Justice issue. Oil spill incidents should take care of general and individual damages or losses incurred. The polluter has to pay.
“Agip should indicate how many barrels of crude oil was recovered from the environment, out of the 60 barrels so spewed; if recovery and cleanup were carried out.
“Besides the JIV report, the regulators should provide another form in the oil industry to show how oil spill impacted environment are attended to in terms of cleanup and, how much of spilled crude oil was recovered at the end of the day. So much crude oil has been left to spread in our environment, absorbed by plants and other materials or leached into the soil. This should be a post impact document to sign off on the incident.”