Bayelsa state government set for legal battle against Aiteo, others over oil spill

Sen. Douye Diri, Governor of Bayelsa State, during his visit to the spill site

The Bayelsa State Government is gearing up for a legal battle against Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, and other relevant agencies over the outcome of the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV), of the Oil Mining Lease(OML)29 Santa Barbara south field Well 01 blowout in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The JIV report signed by Akindele Olubunmi,  Ohaji Nwabueze and Ismail Baba- Ahmed for the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency(NOSDRA), Adetoyinbo Adeyemi, Ingo E.A of Nigerian Upstream  Petroleum Regulatory Commission(NUPRC) and Bilong Agustina Amaka, Andrew Oni and Ebi Bomo- Eric for Aiteo  had claimed that the blowout was caused by third party interference.

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The regulators, in separate interviews after the JIV, had insisted that the wellhead leak was impossible without third party interference.

According to investigations aside its rejection of the JIV report which its representatives refused to sign, the Bayelsa State Government is putting machinery in motion to commence a legal battle to defend its people and its environment.

Mr Biriyal Dambo, SAN, Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, who also heads the Technical Committee, set up by the state government has been saddled with the responsibility and he is consulting with experts within and outside Nigeria including international non-governmental organisations to build a formidable case to defend the people of Bayelsa State.

Governor Douye Diri is said to be miffed at the attitude displayed by AITEO , NOSDRA and NUPRC in the attempt to short-change Bayelsans and has given his nod for the technical team to do all what it can within legitimate and legal confines to get justice for the state.

Sources said the state government has ‘convincing evidence’ to show that NOSDRA and NUPRC are biased over the JIV report they released.

Meanwhile, a cross-section of Niger Deltans have accused NOSDRA and NUPRC of playing a script of Aiteo to produce a biased report not based on scientific evidence.

The first class King of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bubaraye Dakolo, in an interview said if NOSDRA and NUPRC insist the leak was sabotage then they should be able to produce the saboteur.

Dakolo, a chemical engineer and  author of the book, Riddle of The Oil Thief, who was part of a team that was refused passage to assess the wellhead after it was plugged, questioned how a saboteur could be able to gain access to the facility to sabotage it with the naval houseboat within 200 metres radius of the facility.

Foremost environmentalist, Revd Nnimmo Bassey in his reactions, dismissed the JIV as inappropriate noting that NOSDRA and NUPRC relied on hear-say because the damaged well head was already replaced before the visit.

He called on the Bayelsa State Government and the people to insist on an independent forensic investigation.

In her reaction, Niger Delta activist, Annkio Briggs said the outcome of the JIV shows that Niger Delta people do not matter to the government of Nigeria.

 According to her, the Ijaw people have been subjected to rankling injustice and it is time for the Ijaw people to commence the process to leave Nigeria for good.

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