May 27, 2024
AITEO EASTERN EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION COMPANY LIMITED REAWAKEN THE OLD WOUNDS OF OIL SPILLAGE IN NIGER-DELTA AS OIL SPILL DEVASTATES OPU NEMBE COMMUNITY IN BAYELSA STATE
– By Alison_Godswill

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An oil spill has occurred in Opu Nembe Community at the southern field of Sant Barbara in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State allegedly caused by oil leakages from crude pipelines owned by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AITEO) (See Video). The spill resulted in an inferno that started on 5 November 2021, destroying traditional livelihoods, crops and economic trees; contaminating water and food sources; and killing all sorts of aquatic creatures. Reports reaching SPACES FOR CHANGE|S4C show that the fire has not yet been put out and is still ravaging the community for more than 20 days. Beyond the massive economic losses, the people of Opu Nembe community have suffered incalculable damage to their physical, social and cultural environments. SPACES FOR CHANGE strongly condemns this resurgence of environmental irresponsibility by oil corporations operating in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.

Eyewitnesses told SPACES FOR CHANGE that the spillage started on 5 November 2021, without AITEO Limited taking concrete steps to stop the inferno. Whatever steps, if any, taken remain ineffective as the inferno and the massive oil spills gushing out of AITEO’s facilities remain unrestrained till date. Residents lament that water from the local streams heavily coated with crude oil are neither usable nor drinkable. Fishing nets, boats and other hunting wares worth several millions of Naira have been damaged beyond repair.

The incident is an unfortunate replay of the laisser-faire attitude of oil corporations where petro-powered profits come first before the life and wellbeing of local communities. Oil corporations like AITEO can brazenly leave oil spills and the accompanying inferno uncontrolled for several days because of the weak and extremely lax regulatory environment in the country where accountability for environmental injustices lag behind. AITEO’s handling of the spill in Opu Nembe community not only constitutes a dereliction of corporate responsibility but also violates the Opu Nembe’s peoples’ right to development, dignity and clean environment as guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and a host of international human rights instruments which Nigeria has ratified.

SPACES FOR CHANGE|S4C demands that AITEO immediately begins the process of remediation of the environment in Opu Nembe community. Regulatory agencies should ensure that AITEO applies international best practice in the land remediation exercises. In addition to a swift clean-up, AITEO should take immediate steps to compensate people whose properties and livelihoods have been gravely affected by the inferno. Last but not least, the investigation into the cause of the spill must be made open to members of the public without distortion or interference as has always been the practice of oil multinationals.

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