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Do more to stop oil spillage, human rights violation in Niger Delta — CSOs

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
28 August 2022   |   2:39 am
Connected Development (CODE), a civil society group, and international development organisation, Oxfam, have urged the Federal Government to do more than just place sanctions on oil companies

Oil spillage

Connected Development (CODE), a civil society group, and international development organisation, Oxfam, have urged the Federal Government to do more than just place sanctions on oil companies that are involved in human rights violations in the Niger Delta.

  
The groups made the call during an advocacy visit to the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in Abuja.
  
The visit to the agencies by the CSOs was to collaborate with the government on issues pertaining to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), which gives a framework on how government and businesses are to protect and respect human rights, including mechanisms that are to be put in place to reduce, mitigate and redress business-related violations. 
  
The Chief Executive Officer of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, expressed concerns that oil spills and gas flares in communities where oil and gas operations are carried out have continued unabated despite the government’s promises to end the menace.  
  
He said: “We are leading a campaign in collaboration with Oxfam that looks at how we’re going to implement the national action plan on business and human rights.
  
“We know that in exploration across Nigeria, there have been incidents of human rights violations, and for us, we’re meeting with government regulators to call their attention to this. Most importantly, to explore how we can collaborate with them to rebuild trust, particularly engaging communities where these resources are domiciled, and then work with players in the private sector who have been given licence to explore.”

Speaking during the parley, Director General of NORSDA, Idris Musa, noted that most of the oil spills recorded in the Niger Delta were a result of sabotage in the system. 
  
He stressed the need for companies to abide by NESREA guidelines to curb environmental hazards and for communities to benefit from extractive resources.
  
According to him, out of the 1, 086 oil spills recorded in Bayelsa from 2015 till February 2022, 917 were as a result of sabotage, third-party breakage of pipelines with a hacksaw, or outright blowing up of pipelines.

 
He said the nation loses about 200 to 300 barrels of oil per day to the menace. 
    
The DG of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro said the large-scale theft of crude and related pipeline sabotage in the Niger Delta was a result of poverty and inequality in the region. 
  
According to him, to combat the menace, transparency and accountability should be adhered to, adding that there must be a holistic approach to eradicating inequalities and poverty in the region 
  
He said: “There is no way we can solve the environmental problems without addressing inequalities. When the level of poverty is high, inequality will be high, and most of these inequalities emanated from the destruction of the environment. When people do not have jobs to do, they engage in oil bunkering. If that is not addressed then we have a lot to do.