By Emma Amaize, Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—MEMBERS of the House of Representatives, will today commence debate on the alleged dumping of substances suspected to be toxic in nature in Koko, Delta State.
This was sequel to a motion brought on the floor of the House by Mr. Daniel Reyenieju (PDP, Warri federal constituency, Delta) under matters of national importance.
Presenting the motion, Reyenieju recalled: “In June 1988, a national phenomenon of toxic waste with massive sludge, slurry and carcinogenic waste dump occurred in Koko community, Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State, which led to illnesses, including stomach upset, headache, failing sight and deaths, apart from the environmental damage to the aquatic life of the people then.
“Over two decades after the above infamous dumping of toxic waste in Koko, another toxic and carcinogenic waste dump has occurred in the same community this year.”
He prayed that the House Committees on Environment, Petroleum Resources and Gas Resources to investigate the alleged dumping of the toxic waste and the extent of its environmental impact on the community and report to the House within four legislative weeks.
Seconding the motion, Mr. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, pleaded with his colleagues to see the urgency in Reyenieju’s motion, “considering the fact that the dumped substances are carcinogenous in nature.”
The House unanimously voted in favour of its being taken as a matter of national importance.
But in his ruling, the presiding officer, Mr Yakubu Dogara, following House laid down procedures, ruled that it should be taken today.
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Environment in Delta State, Mr. Victor Nani and Area Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service, Edo/Delta states, Mr. Oyin Obukema, have directed that further laboratory analysis be conducted to ascertain the toxicity or otherwise of the materials dumped at Koko community.
The officials, who inspected facilities at Ebenco Global Link Limited, Koko, the oil waste management company accused of dumping toxic materials in the area, however, dismissed the allegation that toxic materials were imported into the country.
They were accompanied on the inspection exercise by the chairman of Warri North, Chief Francis Maku, who had earlier described the reported dumping of toxic waste in Koko as false.
Nani said: “Our visit is coming on the heels of alleged importation of industrial toxic waste to Koko to be managed by the company. This has caused apprehension in the minds of stakeholders and thus, there is urgent need to effectively manage the situation for the benefit of Deltans.
“I am pleased that the Nigeria Customs Service, led by the Comptroller of the Edo/Delta zone is here with us for the on-the-spot assessments of the waste and the facility.
“We are collecting samples of the waste for further laboratory analysis. The outcome of the analysis will be made public in the interest of all,” he said.
The customs boss said that products that enter the country are normally checked by the organisation, noting that the waste was not imported.
The duo assured the people that there was no cause for panic.