By Godwin Utuedoye,
An environmental activists, Comrade Freeman Aghoshe on Friday, April 6 threatened to sue the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC for its negligence and lack of regards to the environment and the health of the citizens where it operates.
Comrade Freeman Aghoshe
While stressing the need for the oil company to declare a state of emergency after the oil spills that has contaminated the Okpare-Olomu river in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, which he said has destroyed totally all acquactic and natural vegetations, noted that the continous burning of illegally refined diesel by men of the Nigerian Army has choked the air with thick black smokes which has dangerous effects on the lives of the people who on daily basis inhales the dangerous fumes and may likely caused an outbreak.
Comrade Freeman Aghoshe who threatened to sue the oil company if no urgent steps is taken, stated that since the oil spills occured from the NPDC OML 34 in Okpare-Olomu river as result of illegal oil/refining activities at Otor-Edo community, the people of Okpare-Olomu community has gone through series of untold hardship as the company has failed to respond even when the are aware that the alleged burst pipeline was not located in Okpare community.
He argued that no matter what, even if the oil spills occured as a result of crude oil theft, vandalization or sabotage of facilities as well as illegal refining, the oil company need to intervene because it is not everybody in the community that is involved in oil theft.
In his words, “The alleged pipeline that is vandalized or the illegal refinery does not happen in Okpare Community, but all the harm, environmental damages and the hardship is been faced by us”. Pointing to the river, Comrade Freeman said, you can see the thick smoke and fire burning over there, when this stop?.
Recalling when the problem started, Comrade Freeman disclosed that since November 2017 the oil spills has been on the river, yet operators of the oil facilities in the area has not made any efforts to remediates the areas affected by the spills which he said originated from its facilities but not the making of the people.
He accused the security agents whom he described as heartless, incompetent and money conscious of deliberately setting the river on fire. Comrade Freeman said he is very optimistic that in the next 30 years, no acquactic organisms can survive in this water. I guest you knows what that means, he said.
Speaking further he said, the constant burning of the river has also destroyed the natural vegetation which he said is a source of livelihood for some persons. No palm wine trees anymore, even woods and other raw materials in the swamp are all destroyed. He said some persons in the community only rely on fishing, but today no river to fish.
Thick cloud of smoke burning as a result of oil spills on Okpare River
The youth leader noted that there is a looming disaster and warned the oil company to speed up any remediation process else he will sue them before the international community.
When Advocate visited the river, the volume of crude on the water was as thick that one cannot see the water while a thick smoke covered the cloud as the fire continued to burn as far to the sand.
A source who craved anonymity however accused the community leaders of negligence and wickedness. In his words, “How can you tell me that a place where notable and enlightened personalities such as the former NDDC boss, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Hon. Taleb Tebite, Olorogun Moses Taiga, Barr. Egbedi and others hails from, that such a crime is being perpetuated with huge effects on the people and nothing is done”. Reacting further, the source noted that the effects of this environmental damage is not only on the water or the vegetation but also on the popular Olomu bridge. One day he said, the bridge will collapse and the Kingdom may go back to square one.
Vehicles seized with illegally
refined diesel and burnt by the Nigeria
Army close to Olomu bridge.
Advocate Online had earlier reported the impending danger and for seen outbreak of diseases which the activities of bunkerers could cause the people if urgent steps where not taken but it is as if nothing was done as no pressure seems not to have come from the community.