A scene of militants (doctored photograph)

..Threatens shutdown with culprits

Bight News correspondents gathered that amidst threats by residents of coastal communities in Bayelsa state to shutdown oil facilities in their areas following recent massive death of fishes along the coastlines of Bayelsa, Delta and parts of Rivers states, ex-militant leaders in the region have urged the National Assembly to investigate the immediate and remote cause of the ugly development, which portends serious danger for livelihoods of coastal communities in the region who depends on the sea for survival.

Bight News sourced from a chat with journalists in Yenagoa on Wednesday, Bayelsa state Chairman of the first phase ex-militants, General Monday Excel and leader of third phase militants, General Ebi John urged the leadership of the National Assembly to mandate its relevant committees to investigate the matter and make their findings public to avoid violent protests from the youth in the region.

According to General Monday, the present development has brought untold hardship to the coastal communities across the south south states, warning that if the federal government fails to do the needful to provide succuor to residents of the affected coastal communities, the youth may have no other option than to carry placards along major federal roads to register their grievances as usual.

General John reiterated that most of the ex-militants in the region come from these coastal communities, whose source of livelihood is the sea, adding that they will hold the multinational oil corporations operating in the area responsible if nothing is done in the coming days.

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The ex-militants used the medium to call on the governors and speakers of the south south State Houses’ of Assembly to rise to the occasion by speaking out call for palliatives to ameliorate the sufferings of the affected coastal communities before it gets out of hands.

Meanwhile, residents of some affect coastal communities namely; Koluama, Ekeni, Ezetu, Foropa, in Southern Ijaw local government and those of Egwe-ama, Okpoama, Fishtown, Odioama, Akassa and Sangana in Brass local government, including communities in Delta and Rivers state like Bonny, have called on the National Oil Spills Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) to wrap up its probe on the cause of the reported massive death of fishes and make their findings public to avoid crisis.

They also urged the oil industry regulators to trace the source of the pollution while calling on the federal government to immediately constitute a Joint Investigation Team to ascertain the cause of the toxic pollution that has endangered their lives and source of livelihood.

Chairman, Forum of Community Development Committees (CDC), of host communities to Chevron oilfields in Bayelsa, Chief Captain Patrick Ekubo and Secretary Mr. Biraladei Brisibe Wuka, who expressed serious concerns over the ugly development, explained that the call became imperative as the oil firms operating in the area had shown no concern.

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Wuka said “the strange increased toxicity of the Atlantic Ocean is causing concerns for their health, just as he appealed to the federal and state governments of the affected states to check the impact of suspected toxic pollution across their coastlines.

They said that the pollution was a threat to the predominantly fishing settlement and caused hardship to the host communities.

On his part, renowned environmentalist, Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, also urged on the federal government and oil industry regulators to investigate the cause of the massive death of fishes which reportedly litter the coastlines of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers.

He observed that the littering of the coastline for more than three weeks may be an indication of increased toxicity of the coastline, adding that consuming the dead fishes may pose a public health danger to residents of fishing settlements.

“Some stories we hear are that some toxic wastes may have been dumped into the sea by oil company operators.

“If that is found to be true, such a company should be held responsible for endangering the health of the people and for ecological damage and destruction of the people’s livelihood.

“This matter should not be swept under the carpet or locked away because we are focusing attention on the coronavirus pandemic”, Rev. Bassey reiterated.

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However, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) which operates oilfield near the communities in a response to requests for reaction said that there were no leaks from its facilities in the area.

Also reacting to the incident, General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr. Esimaje Brikinn, denied any links with the alleged pollution with the operations of his oil firm.

“CNL and Star Deep confirm that there has not been any chemical release from any of our facilities,” Chevron stated.

Director-General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr. Idris Musa, said the spill agency will commence an investigation as soon as the lockdown for the COVID-19 was lifted.

It will be recalled that residents of Odioama, Okpoama, Brass, Egweama, Sangana and Fishtown in Brass local government and Foropa, Kuluama, Ekeni Ezetu,Ikebiri Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw local government area in Bayelsa state have complained about sighting massive dead fishes littering their shoreline and in the creeks, since the middle of March.

Some of the residents said the occurrence was noticed since March 15 and has noted abated, fueling fears of pollution of the country’s territorial waters by toxic substances.


Bight News

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