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ERA/FoEN tasks FG on revamp of HYPREP

By Michael Egbejule (Benin City) and Obinna Nwaoku (Port Harcourt)
11 August 2022   |   2:36 am
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the Federal Government to sustain the Ogoni clean-up, saying its environmental legacy project

Buhari. Photo/facebook/Asorock

Rivers community seeks stoppage of pollution by oil firm

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the Federal Government to sustain the Ogoni clean-up, saying its environmental legacy project and electioneering promises since 2014, particularly cleaning of the Rivers community, are too important to fail.

It commended the government for the recent re-organisation of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), which brought in a new project coordinator, who was part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) team for the Ogoni environmental assessment.

Speaking in Benin City, Edo State, during a UNEP Assessment Report and HYPREP’s performance workshop organised by ERA/FoEN, in collaboration with Lift Humanity Foundation (LHF), the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Ojo, expressed hope that the move would turn around the situation and ensure a proper clean up of Ogoniland.

At the workshop with the theme, ‘Ogoni Clean-up Scorecard’, Ojo said HYPREP was failing despite the efforts of concerned stakeholders, who struggled to effectively deliver on any of the recommendations in the UNEP report.

The ED, who said the agency would need the assistance of all Ogoni people and civil society groups to overcome the challenges and pull HYPREP from the brink, noted that the agency lacked the manpower, strategies, expertise and experience required to pull off a multi-faceted clean-up, remediation and restoration project of such magnitude.

MEANWHILE, people of Umu-EzeAkpor in Mgbede Community, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Council of Rivers, have condemned the dumping of chemical wastes in the community by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), saying it is threatening their health and agriculture.

NAOC is a subsidiary of ENI.

“We are calling on the world to ask NAOC/ENI to stop this environmental genocide they are committing against our people,” they said.

But the oil giant has remained silent over the development despite moves from the community and the Rivers State Ministry of Environment.

The Guardian gathered that Agip had reportedly converted a portion of land belonging to the Umu-EzeAkpor family to its waste dump, leaving heaps of stones and contaminated sands evacuated from oil spill sites in the area.

The state’s environment ministry, following a petition from the family, conducted a joint inspection of the area on August 13, 2013, to the area and discovered that the firm polluted the farmland, and called for remediation.

Speaking for the family, Everestus Nicholas, said the development started over 30 years ago and that the wastes covered over 28 plots of land belonging to the Umu-EzeAkpor family.

Nicholas, who is the leader of Egbema Voice of Freedom (EVF), said efforts had been made to reach Agip but regretted that it remained futile.

His words: “The state regulator, Rivers State Ministry of Environment, has gone to that site over than 15 years ago, alongside Agip and community members, to see things and have written a report saying that they saw toxic chemicals on that site.

“The state regulator went further to invite NAOC/ENI to a meeting with the community members and asked the firm to pay the community N5 million then. But NAOC/ENI refused to either pay or clean up; rather, each passing day there is an oil spill on another site, they transfer the sand to this land, thereby degrading the farmland the more.”

However, when contacted, the Head of the Team interfacing with the family, Chris Eke, declined to comment on the development.

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