13 February 2007

Nigeria: Oil Spill Displaces 10 Ijaw Communities

Warri — CHEVRON'S Abiteye flow station oil spill of over 1,500 barrels of crude has rendered over 10 Ijaw communities and 500 hundred persons homeless in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West local government area of Delta State.

The incident has led to anger and fresh threats to the peace and security in the areas, as the communities accused CNL of employing 'divide-and-rule' tactics in dealing with the problems arising from the spill.

The councilor representing Benikrukru Ward in the council area, Mr. Gbabor Okrika, told Vanguard that the spill devastated over 10 communities and affected sources of drinking water and rendered homes of victims inhabitable.

Okrika listed the communities affected in the Ijaw areas to include Benikrukru, Ekiagbene and Abiteye, among others, lamenting that it had brought unprecedented calamities to his kinsmen.

He accused the company of scheming out the Ministry of Environment and the communities' representatives in the negotiating compensation for the victims of the spill, saying it was a calculated attempt by CNL and its officials to shortchange the victims.

Okrika accused Chevron of insensibility to the plight and health hazard caused by the spill.

He said; "Chevron is not bothered about the health of the people they are only concerned about their operations and they have now started a process that can only divide the people and create further division among them."

Vanguard gatherd that the spill occurred at Abiteye in August last year, while a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) on the spill had already been concluded.

However, the council lawmaker revealed that CNL through its representative in the Warri Office, Mr. Tony Emegere is allegedly engaging in acts capable of inciting the people to civil disturbance.

Okrika particularly accused Emegere of shutting out prominent members of the affected communities in the negotiations, even though he said such persons, including himself, were parts of the JIV team that visited the spill site and forced CNL to accept responsibility for the incident.

Efforts to speak with authorities of CNL was unsucessful as they decline to pick up telephone calls.

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