— Burning of the illegal oil vessels have greatly affected us – Residents
By Shina Badmus
The Deputy Governor of Delta State, Deacon Kingsley Burutu Otuaro has condemned in strong terms the alleged destruction of vessels carrying illegal oil in the state saying that its effect requires national discourse.
Otuaro, who chairs the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, made this known after a helicopter-driven aerial inspection on Wednesday, July 24, of sites impacted by spills from exploded vessels in Warri North and Warri South-West LGA.
Otuaro, while speaking to protesters who had heard of his coming and ambushed him at a stop-over at Okerenkoko in Warri South-West LGA, said, “The Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, set up by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has the mandate of ensuring that the oil production environment is safe.
“We heard complaints that the security agents have contributed to environmental despoliation resulting from spills via their destruction of illegal crude oil vessels. I was at Olero and Macaraba areas and what we saw is worrisome. It is an ill-wind that blows nobody good.”
The Deputy Governor added: “The statutory responsibility of the security agents is to protect the oil facilities and prevent illegal bunkering.
“Their alleged destruction/explosion of illegal crude oil vessels in the waterways with concomitant despoliation of the environment that supports livelihood of the people has worsened environmental hazards and the style does not conform to global best practices”.
“I think the security agents alleged to be exploding these illegal crude oil vessels think they have no choice or alternative to what they are said to be doing.
“But I think the solution would require a national discourse that would involve them. The practice is unacceptable. But I urge you to be patient as government prepares to find a resolution to this environmental problem.
“We need to think through this problem that has obviously endangered and pauperized the people.”
The protesters who carried placards with various inscriptions on them read, “Military, Stop the Burning (of illegal crude oil badges)”, “Our environment Is No Longer Safe for Healthy Living”, “Stop Pollution of Our Environment”, “Our Environment Is Our Pride”, “Federal Government Save Our Environment”, “We Need Freedom”, “Government, Intervene In Our Environment”.
However, a 65 year old Mrs. Ebiasuode Aramisi while speaking on the effect of spills from explosions of illegal oil vessels by security agents, said, “The burning of the illegal oil vessels have greatly affected us by way of polluting the rivers beyond normal. We can no longer fish. We are hungry as our source livelihood is destroyed/polluted. Federal Government save us”.
Chairman of Okerenkoko Federated community, Mr Kingsley Oturubo had noted that “Spills from Crude oil vessels exploded by Security agents, into waters had polluted same such that fishing activity was no longer productive. The situation has caused untold hardship that can make a people go into extinction”.