By Ebi Perekeme
A group, Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), Lagos State Chapter, has urged the Federal Government to stop the reckless destruction, auctioning and exploitation of resources of Niger Delta region and its environment.
In a statement jointly signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Barrister Efiye Bribena and Engr Ben Okoro, IEF said the ecosystem and resources of the region had been unjustly destroyed and exploited for over 60 years.
“The oil producing companies wantonly destroy the environment and ecosystem, thereby spreading hardship, underdevelopment, poverty, sickness and disease in the region.
“Also, there is the recent phenomenon of dead fishes washing up along the coastline from Odimodi area in Delta State, stretching through Bayelsa State to Bonny and Andoni in Rivers State and coastal communities in Akwa Ibom State, suspected to be due to discharge of contaminants by oil producers in the Forcados and Escravos axis.
“In Idu in Rivers State and Gbarain in Bayelsa, just like countless communities in the region, massive gas flares continue to smoke the communities and devalue their quality of life for decades.
“The case of Poloububo in Delta State is pathetic as their ecology and natural water courses and occupations have been altered permanently by the oil companies in creating artificial canals to access oil wells, causing annual floods and the unnatural mixing of salt and fresh waters, in addition to the repeated oil pollution.”
The statement added: “The people have suffered this great injustice over the years and all efforts to get the oil companies and the Federal Government to rise up to their responsibilities and address this mindless destruction of the environment have failed.
“It is for these reasons that we call on the Federal Government to suspend or cancel the current bid rounds for marginal fields until steps are taken to address the following issues; ownership of the natural resources of Niger Delta, remediation of the environment of oil bearing communities, compensation for damages already done to the people and communities and ensure safety in oil exploitation activities and protection of oil bearing communities.”