The fact is that, it is only
few people that will dispute that environmental degradation is rampant throughout the oil producing region of Nigeria. Whether due to oil spills gas flaring, dumping of wastes associated with drilling artesenal refining or other related activities, the impacts on the environment and human livelihoods and health are widespread and severe.
Environmentally, the Niger Delta is sick and the inhabitants are poor. Moreover, there seems to be a rising tide of criminality and militancy in the region and this has made most communities, particularly in the riverine areas unsafe.
It is an obvious fact that the greatest casualties are the environment and the people.
It would be recalled that, in the past, the people of the Niger Delta have embarked on series of legal actions to seek redress on the pollution of their lands.
A publication recently released by the Centre for Environmental Human Rights And Development (CEHRD) revealed that over 38 environmental related cases have been prosecuted in the region since 1970.
The publication titled; “After Bodo: Effective Remedy And Recourse options for victims of environmental degradation related to oil extraction in Nigeria” showed that in many of these cases, the affected communities and individuals received compensations both monetarily and otherwise.
According to the report, the cases all bothered on pollution which include, pollution of water ways, and destruction of farmlands.
The first of these cases include; Mon Igara V. Shell BP 1970, San Ikpede V.SPDC PDC 1973, Atubie V. Shell BP PDC 1974 and Chinda v Shell BP PDC 1974.
Also mentioned in the report are; Umudje V. SPDC 1975, Nweke and others V. Nigerian Agip Oil Company in 1976. The report also said that in 1986, a number of oil companies were held liable in a case of crude oil pollution which occurred in the Calabar River and spread to Port Harcourt River damaging marine life and raffia palms.
Other cases also examined by the report includes; Nwadiaro V. SPDC 1990, Otoko V. SPDC, a case of oil spillage along the Andoni River 1990, SPDC V Ambah 1991, SPDC V. Enoch 1992 and Elf V. Opere Sillo 1994.
The publication also mentioned the cases of SPDC V. Farah 1995, SPDC V. Tiebo 1996, SPDC V. Amaro 2001, SPDC V. A. Otelemaba Max, SPDC V. Isaiah 2001, Mobil V. Monokpo 2003, SPDC V. Edamkue 2003 and NNPC V. Sele 2004.
The rest are; Gbemre V. SPDC seeking a declaration to stop gas flaring in 2007, Phyne V. SPDC 2006, Firibed V. SPDC also in 2006.
Also are Agadia and Uruesheyi SPDC .V. SPDC 2006, Chief Omu and others V. SPDC V. Ohaka 2008, Agbara V. SPDC 2001 – 2010 SPDC V. John 2011, John Holt Krebale and others V. SPDC and Barizaa M. T. Dooh V SPDC in 2012.
The report further mentioned other cases such as Ogbodo V. SPDC 2011, Batan, Delta State V. SPDC, Bodo Community V. SPDC, SERAP V. Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Bonga Oil Field coast of the Niger Delta.
The report which dwelt extensively on the Bodo V. SPDC case described it as the most successful.
According to the report, the well studied and highly publicized Bodo V. Shell cases began with two large spills in August and December 2008 affecting thousands of fishermen and farmers in Bodo and neighbouring communities.
“The oil company’s response to the spill was slow and it infact admitted liability”.
It noted that the case which greatly benefitted from legal expertise and scientific evidence led to an out of court settlement in which a whooping sum of 83.3 million dollars was paid to the communities.
Commenting on the report in an interview with The Tide, a Director in the Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development (CCHRD) Mr Laurent Dube, said that getting Justice for the communities have always been problematic except the case of Bodo.
Mr Dube said that, the situation shows the level of resistance to environmental pollution in the Niger Delta, adding that the resistance will continue for a longer time to come until the oil companies change their strategies in their operations.
The overall impacts was that while some of these communities got compensations, others never received any compensations.
The report also revealed that, some loop holes in our Judicial System were exploited by the companies to deny the communities of their rights. A case or point was that of Gbemre V. SPDC in Delta State, in which a declaratory injunction was sought for the stoppage of gas flaring on the Niger Delta by April 30 2007.
The Tide learnt that in the same year, the Judge was transferred to another court and the court file went missing.
SPDC however obtained a court order, thereby further delaying compliance and currently ruling has not been enforced.
The effect is that the non enforcement of the ruling has made gas flaring a common phenomenon in the Niger delta.
In the other cases, although compensations have been paid to the communities, but that has not stopped the companies from further polluting the environment.
An environmentalist, in the Niger Delta, Mr Thomas Ikaraba told The Tide in an interview that, the impacts of these litigations are yet to be felt in the region as after monetary compensations, the environment are left un-cleaned.
Mr Ikaraba cited the case of Bodo, where individuals and families received monies, but the community is yet to be clean up.
He urged for legislations that will make it crime for companies not to clean up polluted sites after paying compensations.
He views were also shared by across section of environmental Right Activities in the region.
In summary, the report showed the level of resistance by the people to pollution in the Niger Delta and the probable impacts.
Stakeholders Want Implementation Of Waste Management Policy
As Rivers State and Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2021 World Environment Day last Saturday, some civil society organisations have called for the implementation of the nation’s waste management policy.
They said this at a tree planting programme organised by African Clean-up Initiative, Rivers State Network, in collaboration with School of Environmental Health Technology, Rivers State College of Health Science and Management Technology and Junior Chamber International (JCI) in Port Harcourt Metro at the college premises in Port Harcourt.
Declaring the event open, the Dean, School of Environmental Health, Rivers State College of Health Science and Management Technology, Port Harcourt, Mr Cyprian Mbato said the event was to create awareness and insight of what the World Environment Day is all about.
“The World Environment Day is a day in which we spread awareness about the environment and the need to conserve it.
“Moreover, it is essential to advocate for a greener environment and conservation of nature”
According to him, the continuous sensitisation will enable future generations to lead a healthier life.
“It is essential for all to realise that every little deed matters when it comes to saving the environment.
“No matter how small, a step you are taking to lead a greener lifestyle, it does make a difference”, he said.
Also speaking, the Rivers State Chairman of Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON), Mr Benson Abu called for the restoration of the national ecosystem.
Abu also called for support for the national policy on solid waste management and the plastic waste management policy initiative and support for restoration or conservation initiative including cleaning up of a lake, beach, park and other national areas.
He also called for greening of homes, business, school or public space as professional members with indigenous trees or plants as well as halting products and services that are not environmentally friendly.
Also speaking, President Junior Chamber international, Port Harcourt Metro, Mr Martin Luther William said the celebration is important as it will help to create awareness on the importance of tree planting to protect the environment.
He stressed the need for members of the public to cultivate habits that are environmentally friendly.
Later in an interview, Rivers State team leader of African Clean-up Initiative, Rivers State Network, Miss Grace Belema Leonard said the organisation is working with a vision of planting one million trees in Africa to promote environmental sustainability across the continent.
She said over one 100 trees will be planted in Rivers State before 2025.
By: John Bibor
Disquiet In Rivers Communities Over 2021 Flood Outlook
There is disquiet in some Rivers State Communities over the 2021 flood outlook.
The Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NHISA) had predicted that some states in the country including Rivers State will experience coastal flooding this year.
Some of the communities particularly those along the Orashi River said the situation will spell doom for them as they are yet to overcome the damages caused by last year’s flooding.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, the Eze Igbu Ubie of Ubie Kingdom Ahoada West Local Government area, Eze Augustine Maxwell Okpokiri said another flooding this year will spell doom for his people.
Okpokiri said his people are passing through hard times following the level of devastation caused by last year’s flood.
According to him, NHISA’s prediction has made his people to be agitated over the hardship that lies ahead if the prediction comes to pass.
He said a part from losing farmlands, buildings and other properties to flood, lives were also lost in his Kingdom.
Okpokiri said victims of the disaster have not received any help from any quarters.
He also blamed the Federal Government and its agencies for refusing to come to the aid of his people.
The Ubie monarch also urged the Federal Government to evolve measures that will put to rest the incessant flooding in the area.
Who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the experiences of last year must never repeat itself.
He urged the government to dredge the Orashi River to allow the free flow of waters.
By: John Bibor
Environmental Pollution: 707 Plant Species Endangered In Nigeria – Expert
Out of the 4,600 plant species, about 707 have been said to be endangered with hundreds of species since gone into extinction in Nigeria.
This is due largely to the loss of habitat occasioned by environmental degradation and climate change.
Professor of Plant Physiology at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Prof Stephen Umunna Offor revealed this at the 25th Inaugural Lecture of the university held at the main campus, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, recently.
Delivery the lecture with the theme, “The Grandeur of Plants; Our Life and our Environment”, Offor revealed that the international Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has categorized our plants and animals in Nigeria as being endangered.
Offor who explained that an endangered species or plant is an organism or a population of organizing that faces a high risk of becoming extinct due to loss of its habitat, high death rate and changes in the environment and prey said that the death rate of the plants due to exploitation and deforestation outweigh their birth rate over a period of time now.
Offor stated that every species and factors serve an important purpose in the community maintaining that plants, which serve as the primary producers play the major role in any ecological system by providing the primary source of food and oxygen as well as purifying the environment for the entire system.
The plant professor regretted however that the activities of ATPhase which functions to transport variety of different compounds like ions and phospholipids for energy in the environment have been adversely affected by environmental stress arising from toxicity of petroleum hydrocarbon.
He said “in Nigeria, the destruction rate of the environment has so far exceeded the breeding and recovering rate that the situation can only be come proper environmental education and training of the masses.”
While noting that the human life was dependent on plant, offor stressed the need for every stakeholder including the government and industrial organizations to owe it as a duty to protect any plant in the Nigeria environment and ensure their survival under stress and abnormal condition.
By: Lady Godknows Ogbulu
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