..40 communities ravaged
By Godwin Oghre
Sapele—At least one person has died, and 49 others hospitalised following their intake of polluted water and consumption of meals prepared with the contaminated water, after an oil spill from the facility of Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, ravaged no fewer than 40 communities in Warri North and Warri South West Local Government Areas of Delta State.
Vanguard gathered that the pollution occurred on February 24, 2014, from oil pipelines that were laid over 40 years ago, believed to be too old and rusty to transport crude oil, belonging to the oil firm.
The pollution allegedly affected all the creeks along Benin River inhabited by over 40 Itsekiri communities in Warri North and Warri South West councils.
Some of the communities affected by the spillage include Jakpa, Jakpatie, Gbokoda, Tebu, Udo, Ajamitan, Bateren, Baterentie, Bobi, Ugbeyen, Ogbodugbudu, Arunton Daire, Adegba Daire and Orere. Others are Obbe Ogheye-Eghoroke, Ogheye Dimigbun, Tonrila, Oboro, Ogogin, Arunton-Tebu Egheyo, Ajoboyo, Obaghoro, Eborighim, Aja-Olulan, Abe-Abalagbewa and Daloketa, among others.
Leaders of the affected 40 Itsekiri communities, Mr. Jeffrey Wilke, Mr. Esimaje Omaghomi Besidone, Mr. Appearance Tomwe, and Mr. Justice Akpala, who addressed newsmen, yesterday, said the spillage has also caused great economic loss to their people as domestic and aquatic lives have died, leaving the affected communities on the verge of famine.
Fishing, which is the major occupation of the people of the areas, according to the community leaders, has been halted. At press time, the condition of one of the victims simply identifies as Mrs. Magbami, was getting worse and a doctor at the private clinic in Sapele, where is currently lying critically ill, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had suggested that she should be flown abroad for urgent medical attention.
In a joint petition by the communities to President Goodluck Jonathan, a copy of which was sent to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammad Abubakar, the people accused NPDC of frustrating all peaceful moves to check the spillage, adding that some of the company officials had threatened to use security men to beat them up members of the communities, who attempt to pressurize the company to check the spillage.