…advocates creation of Ecocide to address environmental pollution issues
By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
AN environmental activist and director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Mr Nnimmo Bassey has said prominent people with international connections, security cover, and political power are behind oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
Bassey spoke yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen during a one-day Oil fields community dialogue/training organised for residents of Ikot Ada Udo village in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State on issues of environmental pollution.
He said it is a big insult where people of the communities are accused of being the ones stealing the oil as well as causing an oil spill in their communities, stressing that all the local refineries combined won’t be able to finish refining 400,000 barrels of oil that were revealed to be stolen every day in the region.
He explained that his organisation is currently asking the International Community to create a crime called “Ecocide” so that oil companies would be held accountable for oil spills.
His words, “In many parts of the Niger Delta Oil spill occurs. If you go to Bayelsa State, every day there is an oil spill. When they point hand at the communities, it is a very big insult because they are not the ones breaking the pipelines.
“One of our ministers of Finance once said that up to 400,000 barrels of oil are stolen every day in the Niger Delta. And they will always point finger at the community people, that they are the ones stealing the oil. But if you combine all the refineries in Nigeria they cannot finish refining that 400,000 barrels of oil.
“So the stealing of oil in the Niger Delta is done by people with International connections, people with security cover, and political power. You cannot carry 400, 000 barrels on a bicycle, or in a small Canoe and you cannot take it to your village. And the companies, the government know it.
Bassey who disclosed that in 2018 and 2019 there was about 1, 300 oil spills in the Niger Delta, sympathized with the communities for the pollution of their environment and source of livelihood as a result of oil exploration.
He, however, advised that oil communities in the region must not keep quiet when their environment is being destroyed and polluted, stressing that whoever damages the environments must also be made to repair it.
“We (Environmentalist) are actually asking the International Community to come together to create ‘Ecocide’ which is when people commit a major crime against the environment they would be held accountable just like people are held accountable at International Court of Justice for war crimes, Genocides, and crimes against humanity.
. “Whenever the oil spill occurs the oil companies will stay in their head offices and say it is caused by the community people. Imagine if nobody is saying anything, the situation would really have been horrible. The Companies have been getting away with it all this time
‘But when that Law comes into play and companies know they will be held accountable, they won’t continue to dodge responsibility.
“So when I see people speak up for themselves, stand up for themselves, when I see communities ready to take on the Oil Giants, the government when their environment is destroyed, I believe that that will bring progress”, Bassey said