SHELL’s POLLUTION; ERA ON WARPATH, TASKS NIGERIAN GOVT.
FOREMOST environmental rights advocacy group in Nigeria, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), has started to mobilize the global conscience against the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, on the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ogoni.
Hundreds of thousands of the Ogoni people in the Rivers State axis of Southern Nigeria, do no longer have safe drinking water due to decades of oil pollution from Shell facilities in the area.
On the occasion of the second year anniversary of the release of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Assessment of Ogoniland, ERA Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, told AkanimoReports in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city and venue of the event that they are demanding that the Nigerian government demonstrate its commitment to implementing the recommendations of the UNEP report by compelling Shell to clean up its mess in Ogoniland.
According to the ERA boss, ”it is shocking and simply absurd that two years after the UNEP assessment was submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan and a committee set up to make critical recommendations on its implementation, there is still virtually nothing meaningful on ground to show that the Nigerian government is ready to compel Shell to take responsibility for its environmental crimes of ecological disaster in Ogoniland.”
Continuing, Ojo said the UNEP findings released on August 4, 2011 confirmed earlier claims of ecological disaster by local communities and civil society groups. ”It showed hydrocarbon pollution in surface water throughout the creeks of Ogoniland and up to 8cm in groundwater that feed drinking wells. Soils were found to have been polluted with hydrocarbons up to a depth of five metres in 49 observed sites, while benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical was found in drinking water at a level 900 times above World Health Organisation (WHO) acceptable standards”, he said.
Earlier, the group said arising from the report, they wish to draw attention to what they described as ”the underlying issues of the total neglect of the protection of human life and the survival of the Ogonis from a wrecked environment. From our empirical study conducted to gauge the level of implementation of the UNEP report: 2 years after, the Ogonis are still languishing from the pains of environmental injustice, impoverishment and misery”.
”They post a scorecard of failure on the federal government’s and Shell’s effort based on less than 10% implementation that is no more than erection of signposts on polluted deadly acid lakes that dot the landscape.
”Sadly, the Nigerian government and Shell are still promoting cosmetic approaches to the remediation measures recommended by the United Nations. Beyond foot-dragging by the federal government and the so-called lack of political will, these approaches smack of complicity and a deliberate action that is punitive of the Ogoni struggle and guarantees that Shell does not take responsibility for its mess in Ogoniland. We demand that Shell immediately commence the clean up of all impacted sites to ensure remediation, restoration and compensation”, ERA said.
The group which is also Nigeria’s wing of Friends of the Earth, is accordingly galvanising civil society groups and community representatives to stand with the Ogonis to reject the hasty setting up of a Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration
Project (HYPREP) to muscle the local people and give a semblance of action. HYPREP is the federal government’s diversionary ploy from statutory institutional mechanism needed to address decades of environmental injustices in Ogoniland and the entire Niger Delta.
”We are unequivocal that the HYPREP and the ongoing illegal activities by Shell in Ogoniland do not in any way represent the United Nations recommendations. HYPREP should either be scrapped to redress its usurpation of National Oil Spills Detection and Remediation Agency (NOSDRA) or should be made a unit under NOSDRA. NOSDRA should be statutorily responsible for the clean-up of Ogoniland rather than the administrative status of HYPREP under the whims and control of the Minister for Petroleum.
”To bring issues of transparency and accountability to bear on the oil and gas sector, and to account for the decades of social and environmental impacts and plunder of Ogoniland and the entire Niger Delta by the oil companies, the Niger Delta is hereby adopted as a crime scene of ecocide. We urge the State to recognize the Niger Delta as an ecologically-devastated area and to as a matter of urgency declare a state of environmental emergency for the restoration of the environment and compensation to victims of environmental injustices.
”Indeed, the lack of effective legal mechanism for seeking redress is forcing the so-called restive youths to take to violence and criminality. Throughout the Niger Delta, there are probably about one million cases arising from environmental human rights violations and destruction of sources of local livelihoods. Sadly, only less than 1% of these cases ever made it to court and even less than 10% of the 1% ever get justice because the mechanism of seeking redress is cumbersome, time consuming, expensive, and the burden of proof is far too heavy a burden to be discharged by victims. Therefore, we propose the immediate establishment of an independent National Environmental Tribunal to try and resolve all pending
environmental justice cases as justice delayed is justice denied. We urge the lawmakers to put in place a policy framework to kick-start this National Environmental Tribunal process that will allow for corporate and individual liability for the monumental atrocities committed in the Niger Delta.
”To effectively address the recommendations of the UNEP report, we demand the following:
• The immediate release of the US$1 billion Ogoni Environmental Restoration Fund by the Federal Government and Shell within the ambit of NOSDRA’s enabling law with the United Nations Environment Program continuing to provide technical support.
• Shell should immediately commence the decommissioning of its abandoned facilities in Ogoniland, take responsibility for the clean-up of all impacted sites in Ogoniland and ensure remediation, restoration and
• The immediate set up of US$100 billion Niger Delta Restoration Fund for the clean-up of the entire Niger Delta impacted by oil activities.
”We call on all well meaning Nigerians and the global community to join hands and stand in solidarity with the Ogoni people in demanding that the Nigerian government and Shell begin the immediate and full implementation of the UNEP Environmental Assessment Report on Ogoniland”, ERA said. ENDS