The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) on Friday urged the Federal Government to probe the reported pollution of the Niger Delta coastline leading to massive death of fishes and sanction the polluter whoever they may be.
Mr Kenedy Olorogun, Chairman of IYC Transition Implementation Committee said in Yenagoa that the leadership of the group was worried that the increased toxicity of the waters is causing massive death of fishes.
He said that the Atlantic coastline across Edo, Delta Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom was littered by dead fishes, a development that posed danger to the predominantly fishing settlements near the coastline.
“The coastal communities and surrounding communities are presently facing severe cases of oil pollution and other toxic substances in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
“At the moment, marine life and the lives of the people of these coastal areas are under severe threat.
“The entire water body surrounding these communities have been severely despoiled by oil spillage and other toxic substances.
“There are unconfirmed reports that some of the major oil companies operating in these areas may have discharged very dangerous toxic substances into the rivers and creeks; coupled with oil spills which have resulted in the death of marine and aquatic life.
“These multinationals operating in the region care less about the environmental and economic impact of their oil explorative and extractive activities. Their major goal is profit and not safety.
“The leadership of IYC would not sit idly and watch any community in Ijaw land or Niger Delta being destroyed by the avarice and greed of people who have not and are not contributing to the economic wellbeing of the Country.
“The Council is calling on relevant government institutions and agencies to swiftly come to the aid of these Ijaw Communities to mitigate the effect of the oil pollution and the discharge of toxic substances that are presently destroying aquatic and marine life.
“Government institutions; such as the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA). Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Environmental rights Organizations, both local and International should rise to the occasion and put an end to the senseless and meaningless destruction of marine life.
“The dangers posed also include to the lives of humans and the ecosystem by these Oil Majors,” Olorogun said.
They demanded that a high powered investigative panel be set up by the federal government where appropriate sanctions would be meted out to anyone or organization found culpable.
The youth leader said that in line with the ‘Polluter pays principle, the culprit would be prevailed upon to pay compensation to the people of the area, in order to serve as a deterrent to other companies and organizations.
“We have a government that has deliberately refused to send palliatives in this period of national and global lockdown to Communities in the Niger Delta. And they say we are ‘One Nigeria’.
“A time will come and very soon when resources found in our area would be used to develop our communities alone.
“Oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta are suffering severely under the yoke of mindless and barbaric exploitation of the resources in the region.
“Before the federal government declared lockdown in some States including the FCT, Communities in the Niger Delta were already in economic and environmental lockdown.
“ The people living in these communities no longer see themselves as citizens of Nigeria. Something needs to be done urgently.
“The extent of environmental pollution in the area is alarming. The death rate from oil and gas explorative activities of these multinationals exceeds what the world now knows as the novel Coronavirus,” Olorogun lamented..
However, Mr Idris Musa, the Director-General of NOSDRA had said the spill agency would deploy manpower and resources to the sites to commence an investigation as soon as the lockdown for the COVID-19 is lifted.