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Reps panel urges probe of alleged pollution in Akoka by Total

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Total [/caption4CAPA asks firm to own up, pay up for damages

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions is unhappy over the damages allegedly inflicted on the Akoka community in Lagos State by Total Nigeria Plc.

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The Jerry Alagbaoso-led committee thereby ordered an on-the-spot assessment to be led by Chidozie Nwankwo and three others members of the committee to ascertain the claim by the community.

Alagbaoso likened the ordeal of the Akoka community to that of the Ogoni people who were at the receiving end of environmental pollution due to the activities of the multinational oil giant, Shell Nigeria Plc.

Akintunde Ogunfemi, while testifying before the committee, demanded that punitive measures be meted to the oil firm for causing incalculable damage to the lives and property of residents of the community.

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He particularly alleged that residents no longer enjoy potable water due to the oil spillage from the firm’s facility in Akoka.

He contended that residents, who could no longer enjoy water supply from their boreholes, had suffered severe economic losses as their property are no longer valued appropriately in the open market.

He urged the House to ensure, among others, the provision of potable water, medical surveillance and environmental audit of the soil and water to ascertain the extent of the damage.

HOWEVER, Mr. Jeff Nnamani of Total Nigeria Plc, who acknowledged the occurrence of oil spillage of their facility in Akoka, said a clean-up and remediation exercise had been conducted under the supervision of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEMA).

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MEANWHILE, Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPA), Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, has applauded the House for wading into the matter.

He said: “We believe this hearing today by the House Committee on Public Petitions is a good start for justice.

“It is unfortunate that the community people have been put through the needless trauma of coming all the way from Lagos to Abuja to again show what Total did to their drinking water and environment.

“One thing is certain: Total may delay or rigmarole but it cannot hide or dodge responsibility for the environmental harm inflicted on the innocent community people. The onus is now on the lawmakers. Total must own up and pay up.”

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