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HoCoN , ERA/FoEN seek bill to revoke licences of IOCs over pollution

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The Host Communities Network (HoCoN) and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) have advocated a bill to revoke the licenses of International Oil Companies (IOCs) that pollute the environment without paying adequate compensation to communities.

HoCoN, which comprises advocates from ERA/FoEN, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo, Kogi, Plateau, and Rivers states made the call in Port Harcourt at the weekend during its National General Assembly.

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In a communiqué signed by its president, Prince Barbs Preye-Pawuru, and Acting Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Chima Williams, among others, the group noted that the host communities bore the brunt of environmental degradation from activities of the IOCs, but were not recognised in decision making and sharing of resource benefits.  

They stated that individuals, who are supposed to represent the communities in the sharing of resource benefits live in opulence, while the majority of the people wallow in abject poverty in the midst of plenty.   
 
“All sources of water in oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta are exposed to pollution, forcing fishing activities to drop and crops experience stunted growth.  Reported cases of acid rain further pollute other sources of water and cause skin poisoning among locals. The Land Use Act of 1978 continues to deprive host communities of the enjoyment of the resources in their domains,” the communiqué reads.      

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It pointed out that the IOCs do not respond to oil spills and pollutions early enough and blamed such incidences on host communities.

“Despite the commencement of the Ogoni cleanup, all emergency measures suggested by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) assessment report have not been implemented. There is no water in the communities and there are documented cases of cancer and low sperm count among natives.
 
“Most worrisome is the fact that excavated polluted soil from toxic sites in Ogoniland has become an additional source of pollution in most communities, especially during the rains.

“Multinationals and Biotech Industries are trying hard to get our children addicted to harmful food products, creating health challenges for children and further contaminates our local food systems 

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“Shell hides under a supposed divestment, which includes going offshore, to shy away from addressing decades of environmental degradation,” it added.

The groups further lamented that there was a huge discrepancy between the volume of gas flares reported by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Gas Flare tracker domiciled with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), adding: “This causes economic loss for the nation and continues to impoverish the host communities.”

While rejecting the drilling of new oil wells, it recommended a comprehensive environmental audit of the nation’s ecosystem with the collaboration of HoCoN and urged the Federal Government to pay the Ogoni an ecological debt for decades of pollution, neglect, displacement of its people, and denial of justice.

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