Lawyers of Nembe extraction in Bayelsa State are threatening legal action against the Federal Government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited over the ongoing spill of crude offshore the community.
The Lawyers, under the auspices of Nemb-Se Lawyers Forum, in a statement said it “considers the apparent indifference, negligence and lack of effective capacity to stop the spill and contain its spread as flagrant and continuing violation of the economic, environmental and survival right of the people.”
In the statement signed by their Chairman, Dr. Ayebaesin Beredugo and Secretary, Ayebaekipreye Frank, the forum is demanding the Federal Government and the joint operating firm, NNPC and Aiteo to mobilise necessary and adequate manpower, skill and technology to immediately kill the wellhead and stop the ongoing spill.
They also want the Federal Government’s regulatory agencies to immediately activate a joint investigation to ascertain the cause of the spill and the level of impact, saying the disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources is disturbing.
“We are further disturbed that apart from the initial comfort statement, President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum, has done nothing further to compel the Joint Venture Partners, that is, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and Aiteo to stop the spill and mitigate the massive damage being done to the environment,” the statement partly read.
While noting the prompt effort by Aiteo to contain the spill and provide relief materials to the locals, the Nembe-Se Lawyer Forum said the joint venture partners should also take immediate steps to assess, negotiate and pay adequate compensation to every person and community that have suffered damages from this spill and previous spills and clean up the environment.
It is asked the Federal Government to apply penal laws against “any person or party, including regulators, who by commission and omission played a role in causing the spill”, while they continue to monitor the situation with an intention to take legal actions when necessary to protect the right of the victims.
Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited, which operates the OML 29 Wellhead at Santa Barbara South field in Nembe in Bayelsa State, jointly with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has assured of its commitment to ending the spill.
Explaining why it is taking long to stop the spill, the firm’s Global Group Director/Coordinator, Andrew Oru, said the spill is of a special type which involves 80 per cent gas and 20 per cent crude.