Group Raises Concerns Over Ogoni Clean-Up

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Cross section of participants at the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company and Judges seminar on electricity theft in Enugu, recently.

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre has raised concerns over the clean-up of oil pollution in Ogoniland.
The Programme Manager, Environment and Conservation of Nature, CISLAC, Mr Kolawole Banwo, at a workshop in Lagos recently, highlighted issues affecting the exercise such as the status of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project.
He said HYPREP was perceived to be sluggish due to bureaucracy, politicisation and low level of responsiveness.
He said, “Emergency measures (health audit, alternative livelihoods and potable water) are perceived to be delayed, inadequate or poorly implemented. The risks and effects remain, re-pollution continues through artisanal mining and oil spills.”
Banwo also decried the absence of the integrated contaminated soil management centre.
He said: “The 25-year journey and struggle for the clean-up of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta region is a challenge to our shared humanity. It is about the lives of real people whose only offence is that petroleum resources, which drive our economy, are found in their land.”
According to him, the findings of UNEP Environmental Assessment Report on Ogoniland underline that there are, in a significant number of locations, serious threats to human health from contaminated drinking water to concentrate over the viability and productivity of ecosystems.
He said, “Oil pollution in many intertidal creeks has left mangroves denuded of leaves and stems. When an oil spill occurs on land, fires often break out, killing vegetation and creating a crust over the land.
“The Ogoni community is exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons in outdoor air and drinking water, sometimes at elevated concentrations.”
Banwo noted that the UNEP report, which was released in August 2011, took three years to be completed, saying it concluded that the clean-up would take 25 to 30 years to accomplish with an estimated take off cost of $1bn.
He noted that former president, Goodluck Jonathan, set up a government committee to review the report and make recommendations on immediate and long remedial actions in Ogoni.
HYPREP, which was established in July 2012, was re-established under the Federal Ministry of Environment as published in the Federal Government gazette No. 176, Vol. 103 of December 2016, he said.
Banwo noted that the Ogoni clean-up exercise was launched by the current government in June 2016.
He added that the Ogoni Trust Fund and Escrow Account was opened in Standard Chartered Bank of London for the board of trustees of HYPREP and credited with $177m between April and August 2018, out of the $200m for the year one.