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September 26, 2022

Aiteo oil spill: Dickson demands compensation for affected Bayelsa communities

…calls for urgent measures to remedy endangered environment

Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, has expressed deep concern over the massive oil spillage from OML 29 Well 1 Platform operated by AITEO Exploration and Production Company.

Since the spill, which occurred on November 5, 2021, over two million barrels of crude oil have been reportedly spilled into the Santa Barbara River in Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.

Senator Dickson said in a statement on Monday that the operators of the oil firm, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Ministry of Environment, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency and others should take immediate steps to rescue the seriously threatened environment from total destruction.

The former governor called on the National Emergency Management Agency, the Ministry of Environment, NOSDRA, and oil firms to provide relief materials to communities in the state affected by the spill.

He called on the operators of the oil firm to engage the services of experts with the requisite technical competence to ensure that the destroyed wellhead is professionally repaired.

The lawmaker said that with the scope of the pollution caused by the oil spillage, there’s the need for the Federal Government to make a comprehensive provision to ensure the commencement of immediate measures of remediation in the affected areas.

The former governor sympathised with the people of the affected areas, whose sources of livelihood and health have been endangered by the massive oil spill, which has not abated.

He called for adequate compensation for the people for the damage to the environment and their source of livelihood.

Dickson, however, condemned the needless controversy over the pollution and the mischievous attempt to politicise the spill, which he described as a straight forward case of pollution from the oil company.

He stressed that what was needed at this point was remediation efforts by all stakeholders and not an attack on the communities or the state government.

The lawmaker lamented that the Niger Delta environment had been so badly polluted, adding that this was why he had always described Bayelsa as the headquarters of environmental pollution.

Senator Dickson said that it was because of the rampant pollution that he constituted an international commission on environment chaired by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Bishop John Sentamu (now retired.) The Sentamu-led commission consists of international experts on environment.

He added that his foundation, the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation, will continue to propagate and highlight issues of environmental abuse in the Niger Delta, insisting that the Nembe spill is a classic example of what has been going on in the Niger Delta in the past 60 years

The lawmaker lamented that even the indigenous firms were not faring better in the area of community relations and the protection of the environment than their international counterparts.

He stressed that the oil firms operate like Mafias, constituting grave security threats to the peace and security of the states in the Niger Delta, particularly in Bayelsa through their pipeline surveillance contracts.

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