6 February 2013

Nigeria: House Tasks UNEP On Oil Pollution in Ogoniland

The House of Representatives Tuesday tasked the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to monitor the implementation of its report on the massive oil spill in Ogoniland.

The Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Hon. Uche Ekwunife (APGA/Anambra), gave the charge when she met with the Special Envoy of UNEP, Mr Erik Solheim, who led a delegation to the National Assembly.

Ekwunife noted that there was need to monitor the implementation of the UNEP Report on Ogoniland to ensure that the clean up was done according to international best practices.

The meeting, which was at the instance of UNEP was to engage key stakeholders on the anticipated work in the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.

Ekwunife said proper monitoring of the programme was imperative as there had been instances whereby some oil multinationals had engaged incompetent contractors in the clean up of some major oil spills to cut cost and shortchange the people and the environment.

She promised that the House would do all it could to ensure the integrity of the clean up exercise in Ogoni as well as other parts of the Niger Delta.

"The people of Ogoni have suffered tremendously for no crime of their own. Their only crime is having oil under their land and allowing Shell and other multinational oil companies to exploit the resource.

"In return, Ogoni like the rest of Niger Delta, have been paid with tears and blood. Their lands have been contaminated, water polluted, economic life destroyed, environment abused and the people brutalised," Ekwunife said.

The lawmaker expressed misgivings with one of the recommendations of the UNEP Report asking the Federal Government to pay 20 per cent of the required funds to clean up the affected areas.

Ekwunife argued that Shell, the multinational oil company at the centre of the environmental crisis should have been held responsible for the cost of the clean up.

The UNEP delegation said since the report on the oil spill has been on the table since 2011, the international community was desirous to have the clean up done as quickly as possible.

Leader of the delegation, Solheim, said UNEP was prepared to assist in the process of clean up and would want to know which areas Nigeria would need assistance.

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