By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio
YENAGOA—A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State yesterday, began hearing in multiple cases filed against oil companies by the Bayelsa State Government.
The government through the office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kemasuode Wodu, instituted a number of suits challenging the reckless degradation of the state’s environment by oil companies operating in Bayelsa.
Three of the suits were slated for hearing but the court presided over by Justice Inyang adjourned the matters to February 11 to enable the government resolve some technical issues.
Kemasuode, accompanied by four other lawyers, said “The state government filed a number of suits against the oil companies because of the environmental problems that they have been causing in the state as a result of their activities.
“As we know, these spills occur every day and they don’t even carry out remediation of the environment. They pay no compensation to even persons whose property had been damaged by the spills. We know that there is a rise in the occurrence of cancer and so many other health challenges in the state.
“So, the state government cannot fold its arms. We have decided to approach the courts to test the position of the law with respect to compelling these companies to be alive to their duties and responsibilities. We have to ensure that they carry out remediation first. They don’t always do it.
“Most times, they spend one to two months before they visit spill sites. The spilled crude oil would have seeped into the environment. But we must take actions. These are the kind of court actions that we had filed.”