Nigeria: Local community in Ogoni area concerned that clean-up after oil spill yet to take off 3 years on

Author: Benjamin Umuteme, Blueprint (Nigeria), Published on: 22 April 2019

‘Is the Ogoni clean-up jinxed’

Many environmental analysts and the people of the Niger-Delta region heaved a sigh of relief when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the Ogoni clean-up, but three years down the line, it looks like the project has become one of those that might never really take off. Since its discovery in Nigeria in 1956 petroleum has been a mixed blessing to the country. It is believed to have generated enormous wealth, but it has also claimed a great number of lives. Over the years the story of oil spill in the Niger-delta region has continued to draw consternation and anger from a cross section of the people of the region who continue to see the devastation of its environment by multinational oil companies that operate in the region. Most especially Shell and Eni has been fingered in the various cases of oil spill that ravaged and continue to ravage the region which provides the country with the resources that is used to run the economy.

However, with the death of Ogoni Environmental Rights Activist, Ken Saro Wiwa, the agitation for the clean-up of the region by various rights groups gained traction causing many to take to armed agitation to drive their demand. Pipeline vandalism refers to the wilful or deliberate act of damaging petroleum pipelines with the sole aim of stealing crude oil and association petroleum products. These pipelines are, however, poorly secured thereby making them targets of repetitive attacks by vandals. The result of these attacks by oil thieves on the pipelines most times are done by those who don’t have knowledge of how the pipelines are managed. The implication is that the damaged pipelines are not fixed causing crude to be spilled into the environment. With armed agitation by militants who constantly blew up pipelines in the region, cases of oil spill grew from bad to worse, thereby further devastating the environment.

There have been several calls by rights activists and groups for the federal government to prosecute Eni and Shell for unprofessional conduct in the way they have, over time, managed cases of oil spill in Nigeria. According to Amnesty International both oil companies have deliberately refused to address pervading cases of oil spills in the region as they have been slow in responding at the right time. Since 2014. It further said that among these 1,830 reports it found 89 “about which there are reasonable doubts surrounding the cause provided by the oil companies.”

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Related companies: Shell