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A Leading Civil Society Organization Makes a Case for Environmental Tribunal

A leading Civil Society Organization with International partners known as Kebetkache Women Development & Resource has made a very serious case concerning huge negative environmental impact mastermind particularly by the Oil Multinational Companies operating in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria and some countries in Africa. The group made this known recently during two days stakeholders and host communities interactive conference held in Uyo, state capital of Akwa Ibom State.

In her opening speech, the Convener of the meeting, Ms Emem Okon appreciates effort and contributions of the development partners both national and international for always supporting hosting of several interactive conferences in order to assess, enlighten, create awareness and seek adequate compensation by the operating oil multinationals for the host communities, particularly in the Niger Delta region where oil exploration and exploitation has seriously destroyed national ecosystem.

Okon explained that since the inception of oil exploration and exploitation in Niger Delta, consequently the host communities have been suffering severe negative environmental, social and economic effect which has over the decades consistently caused untimely death among the people in the affected areas and completely destroyed their daily source of livelihood.

She pointed out that the most painful aspect of the ugly scenario is the constant callous response by the operating oil multinationals, especially by deliberately refused to pay adequate compensation to the affected communities whenever oil spill occurred.

Again, the Convener of the meeting revealed that over the decades, multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta had deliberately and tactically refused to pay adequate compensation to the host communities and also failed to discharge their cooperate social responsibility inline with the international best practices; hence all hands must be on desk to remedy the ugly development.

She emphasized that in order to compel oil multinationals operating in the oil bearing communities to live up to their primary cooperate social responsibility, however all civil society organizations, state and federal government, citizens of the affected areas, responsive international organizations, example United Nations Organization and other relevant actors must rise and put serious pressure on the oil multinationals to do the needful to the host communities.

Accordingly, the environmental advocate stated that “Environmental Tribunal” is a very strategic interactive platform put in place by her organization to compel oil multinationals operating in the Niger Delta, Nigeria and other African countries to operate in compliance with the set down international operational standards to safe our environment, remedy already damaged ecosystem and pay adequate compensation to the host communities whenever the need arises.

In his remarks, Prof. Sofiri Peterside who was the Chairman of the Environmental Tribunal, however took time to educate participants on the importance of working collectively in order to present cogent demands to compel oil multinationals operating in the oil bearing communities to do the needful.

However, during the course of the tribunal sitting, thirteen cases were presented by the representatives of respective affected communities, all citing similar maltreatment meted out on them by different multinational Oil companies operating in their domains.

One of the representatives of the affected host communities from Ubenekang, oil bearing community in Ibeno local government area, Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godwin Effanga in his presentation to the tribunal stated that Exxon Mobil oil multinational operating in their area alone has over 400 gas flaring points which has over decades emitting toxic gases into the atmosphere; thereby consistently destroying their natural ecosystem and caused serious health hazards to the people.

Effanga opined that collosal damages which Exxon Mobil operations caused has led to several untimely death among their people, completely destroyed their daily source of livelihood, rendering the soil infertile, destroyed buildings and environment.

Representatives from different oil bearing communities who also presented their similar cases before the tribunal include Mrs. Beatrice Parmanas, Eastern Obolo, Mr. Princewill O. River State, Mrs. Grace R., from Goi community in River State, Dr. Nathaniel Adiakpan, Uruan LGA, Mrs. Blessing R., River State, Chief Moses Inyang, Ibeno LGA, Mr. Henry Efrebo, Obele community, River State, Mr. Harrison Akan, Ibeno LGA and others.

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