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Illegal oil theft, artisanal refining endangering Ogoni cleanup, says MOSOP


• Claims indigenes still drink contaminated water

Illegal crude oil theft and artisanal refining are posing serious threat to the ongoing remediation effort in Ogoni. The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) President, Legborsi Pyagbara, said available information indicate that several oil spills had resulted from oil theft and illegal refining and impacted negatively on the community and the people.

At a symposium with the theme, “United Nations Environment Programme Report on Ogoniland: Assessing stakeholders’ compliance in Ogoni cleanup organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel in Port Harcourt, Pyagbara noted: “Artisanal refining, which we call ‘kpofire’ or illegal bunkering, is the greatest challenge facing the ongoing Ogoni cleanup. It will be impossible for the exercise to be successful when kpofire business is going on.”He explained that due to the nefarious activities of crude oil thieves, the number of impacted sites in Ogoni had increased astronomically in the last three years.

“The communities are in full support of their children engaging in such acts. Before now, we thought it was only women that were supporting the artisanal refining, but we have realised that men are in full support. Few months ago, I held a meeting with people of the communities where these illegal activities are high. To my greatest surprise, they told me that if their children stop the artisanal refining, where will they get money to feed them?” he added.Pyagbara stated that the people accepted the cleanup because it was all about the restoration of their environment and their livelihood.

And amid the criticism that has trailed the remediation effort, he explained that MOSOP had set up a team to monitor the entire process.“On post-assessment stage of the cleanup, MOSOP has played the roles given to it by the UNEP report. We had a challenge convincing the people that money will not be shared because UNEP report did not recommend payment of compensation to impacted communities,” he clarified.

However, the group yesterday maintained that the people still drink contaminated water.In a statement, it expressed disappointment over the way the managers of the cleanup “never bothered about how they were going to treat the contaminated soil to solve the problem.”MOSOP alleged that the Federal Government had “tacitly unleashed terror on Ogoni, while we are looking at peaceful settlement of the conflicts to usher in mutual benefits.”


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