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$10m fund for Ogoni clean-up inadequate, says Amnesty

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

THE Amnesty International has said the $10 million approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for the commencement of the clean-up of Ogoni was far below the $1 billion the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recommended.

UNEP, which had stated that the fund be used to cover the first five years of the clean-up which could take up to 30 years, recommended that the contributions should be made by both the oil industry and the government.

Amnesty International’s Researcher on Business and Human Rights, Mark Dummett, had observed that President Buhari’s initiative will fail, and the Ogoni people will continue to suffer as long as Shell fails to make significant changes to the way it approaches oil spill clean-up.

The rights group said Shell must match the Nigerian government’s new commitment to tackle oil pollution in the Niger Delta by dramatically improving how it clean spills.

According to the group, President Buhari’s announcement on Wednesday of a trust fund to pay for the Clean-up of the Ogoniland region in the Niger Delta is welcome, but if Shell’s ineffective clean-up methods are not fully overhauled, its impact will be limited.

In another development, the Rivers State House of Assembly has warned oil companies in the state to always inspect their facilities and ensure steady maintenance to avoid continuous oil spill across the state, which has claimed several lives.

The lawmakers gave the warning during a debate on a motion presented by the Deputy Speaker and member representing Abua/Odua l Constituency, Stanley Marshall Uwom, on the recent oil spill on Agip facility in Emeguo-Kugbo community of Abua Odua Local Council of the state.

The lawmakers frowned that despite Agip’s delay in tackling the spill and addressing the sufferings of the people, the company was using its security operatives to intimidate the people of the area, which has led to the death of two persons and several others injured.

Sequel to the development, the Speaker, Ikunyi Ibani, set up a five-man ad-hoc committee to investigate the spill on Agip facility.

The Speaker said the House could not fold its arms and watch oil multinationals continue to degrade the environment.

Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has said Nigeria lost a total of $6 billon to crude oil theft in 2014.

Speaking at a press conference on the state of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria, Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, said: “The immediate past government estimated that Nigeria lost N1.29 trillion to industrial scale theft of crude oil and production shutdown last year in 2014.

According to him, the Petroleum Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) put the estimate at $25 million daily, stressing that the inability of stakeholders to agree on the volumes is in itself a problem resulting from the absence of metering facilities which needs to be addressed.

Musa explained that numerous committees set up by the previous administration had escalated, adding that beneficiaries of oil theft had usually included top politicians, high-ranking military officers and militants, and a range of local and international facilitators benefited from the proceeds.

Amnesty International said the fund would be overseen by representatives of the Ogoni people, UN, oil firms operating in Nigeria and the government itself.

According to the government, “stakeholders” will pay an initial $10 million into the fund, but it is not clear who these stakeholders will be.

Ibani insisted that the House would invite management of NAOC before the House to explain why there is so much spillages and damages on their facilities.

The Deputy Speaker, Uwom, regretted that NAOC was yet to take any palliative measure to ameliorate the suffering of the people since the spill occurred in July.

“My community has been inflicted with a monumental spill from NAOC’s Brass-Ogoda pipeline facility. The spill, which has halted economic and social life of the people, has led to the loss of one life while several others are still being searched for”, he said.

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