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ERA tasks FG on UNEP’s emergency measures in Ogoni

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Seeks overhaul of HYPREP
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the Federal Government to implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) emergency measures on the clean up of Ogoniland.

Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Ojo, said it was disheartening that nine years after the UNEP recommendations, Ogoni communities still did not have access to potable water, even in the face of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) when the citizens needed more water for hygienic purposes.

To flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection, government had directed all citizens to adhere to regular hand washing and other hygienic measures.

The UNEP emergency measures include provision of alternative sources of drinking and bathing water, ecological restoration and healthcare.

Ojo stated this during the launch of ERA’s report on ‘No Clean, No Justice’ campaign in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday.

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Represented by the Programme Manager, ERA, Mike Karikpo, the ERA boss said it was regrettable that there were no capable hands in the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to deliver the exercise in Ogoniland.

He disclosed that 11 of the 16 companies contracted for the exercise had no registered expertise in oil pollution remediation or related areas.

These structural failures are clearly visible for all to see. Communities still do not have access to clean drinking water, nine years after UNEP warned of profound health risks caused by contaminated ground which in some places like Nsisioken, it was reported to be 800 times above the limits set by the World Health organisation (WHO).

“Communities with no other alternative have been forced by these failures to continue drinking and washing with water contaminated with benzene known as carcinogen.

“There has been no serious attempt to put together a credible public health registry or an environmental monitoring framework. The Ogoni clean-up and rehabilitation centre have not been built to provide capacity to empower the Ogoni to drive the clean-up process”

“The 21 sites currently being cleaned up by HYPREP covers only a fraction and about 11 per cent of the total area identified by UNEP. No site has been entirely cleaned up,”
Ojo said.

ERA/FoEN also held a similar briefing in Benin City, Edo State,which the executive director personally addressed. He expressed dissatisfaction over the clean-up, which is Federal Government’s environmental legacy project for polluting the Niger Delta region through oil exploration.

Calling on the government to reorganise and completely overhaul HYPREP for it to deliver a truly significant clean-up in Ogoniland, Ojo canvassed legislation to make the agency truly independent, transparent and accountable, stressing the need to remove all obstacles stalling the exercise.

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