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Bonga spill: Oil communities slam minister

By Emma Amaize

WARRI—NO fewer than 100 oil communities in Bayelsa and Delta states, yesterday, slammed the Minister for Environment, Hadjia Hadiza Mailafia, for allegedly playing down the impact of the December 2011 crude oil spill from Bonga Oil Field on their environment for upward of seven months.

Reacting to the recent $5 billion fine by National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, on Shell Petroleum Development Company, which facility spilt the crude, they said the minister amateurishly undercut the impact of the spill on the communities after a guided tour by the polluter company, last year.

Solicitor  to Azamabiri, Bakri, Kokomokeme-Gbene and other affected communities, fishing camps and villages, Osteen Igbapike, in a statement,  said: “That NOSDRA penalized  SPDC/SNEPCO to the sum of  $5 billion  for  the grave environmental  damage occasioned by  Bonga Oil Field spill of December 2011, puts to rest the fact that the  Minister for Environment,  Hadjia Mailafia,  is a square peg in a round whole.

“She is not a fit and proper person to hold the office of the Minister for Environment. Let it be on record that the Minister together with Mr. Peter Idabor, Director General of NOSDRA and Deputy Director Safety of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Capt. Warredi Enisuoh, addressed newsmen in Lagos shortly after they visited the Bonga Oil Field spilling facility on a Shell chartered chopper on or about the 26/12/2011.

“In the said briefing that was reported by the media, which some of us took as the official position of Ministry of Environment, NIMASA and NOSDRA, the Minister undermined the cause, extent and impact of the Bonga spill  and even said that the spill did not hit the coastline,  which was put by this polluting IOC at  40,000 barrels.”

“The Minister gave Shell thumbs up for the containment measures and management of the spill that stood our  environmental statues  on the head. However, about a week after the Minister’s press conference, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobuloukemi, in the Vanguard of Wednesday January 4, 2011, openly disagreed with the Minister and overruled her.  Akpobuloukemi labeled Shell as irresponsible and a lying International Oil Company.”

“Akpobuloukemi even contested the date of the spill and its volume as reported by Shell. Shell  cashing in on the environmental illiteracy of the Minister,  a person in the pinnacle of environmental authority in Nigeria, and had since been fraudulently maintaining that its 40,000 barrels of spilt crude into the Bight of Benin,  never hit the coastline communities and thus no community was polluted,  all to blindly evade its liability.

“In addition, that if any crude hit the coastline; it was from a nameless third party. Some of us are used to the environmental abracadabra of this polluting behemoth.

“So it is very interesting that Idabor, Director General of NOSDRA after seven painful months of the Bonga oil spill on December 20, 2011 has finally summed up the courage to slam a penalty worth N800billion on Shell and can overrule his Minister for Environment.”

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