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Communities in Niger Delta Demand Action Against Oil Spills and Gas Flares

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Following ongoing oil spills and gas flaring in the Niger Delta region, attributed to the activities of multinational oil companies, two communities, Eteo Community in Eleme Local Government area of Rivers State, and Okoro-Utip Community in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, have called on the multinational oil giants to end the pollution and remediate the impacted environment.

The call came as part of resolutions made at the end of the Farmers Community Town Hall meeting on “Land Right and Fight Against Land Grabbing,” organized by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) at Okoro-Utip Community Hall, Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State.

Chief Enyina Wilson, the secretary of Okoro-Utip village council, speaking on behalf of his community, highlighted the challenges faced due to activities of Exxon Mobil, including oil pollution of rivers and farmlands, and the health impact of gas flaring. He emphasized the need for environmental justice, saying, “All we want is environmental justice. They should repair and restore our land to its original state. We want these oil companies to stop the gas flares. Our people are dying, and they don’t care about us.”

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Similarly, Gabriel Olomi from Eteo Community, Rivers State, called for environmental restoration and financial compensation for those affected by pollution, particularly citing the June 2023 oil spill in his community. He stated, “We want them to bring our land to the original status so that we have back our source of living. My place is like a dead zone, no fishing activities, and no water to drink. We want a total removal of the dilapidated pipes so that such things will not occur again.”

Mrs. Ini Umo, Director of Climate Change and Environmental Awareness at the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Akwa Ibom State, represented the Commissioner, Uno Etim, and assured the communities that the state government has reviewed and strengthened some environmental policies to be more people-friendly.

Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of HOMEF, urged the oil communities to take action to solve their problems, emphasizing the need for environmental and social justice in all oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta. He also raised concerns about derelict and abandoned oil wells in the region, calling them potential time bombs, and urged governments to ensure proper decommissioning of these wells.

HOMEF had previously trained communities in both Rivers and Akwa Ibom on agroecology and mangrove restoration to help them begin the process of healing and revival in their communities affected by oil pollution.

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