The National Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) on Wednesday in Abuja sealed the corporate headquarters of Julius Berger Nigerian Plc and Arab Contractors for violation of environmental laws.
NESREA’s Deputy Director of Land and Water Resources, Godwin Atsegwasi, said the two construction companies were sealed for violating provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act of 1992.
The EIA Act was enacted to assess both the health and the economic effects of establishing industries or undertaking any type of industrial activity on the environment.
NESREA has the constitutional mandate to enforce all environmental laws in Nigeria and to ensure that the provision of a healthy environment for all Nigerians.
Mr. Atsegwasi said that the enforcement team would perform its legal mandate by sealing any organisation that fails to comply with the EIA guidelines adding that the two companies had grossly violated the EIA standards by building construction yards in various locations that were capable of causing environmental degradation.
He said that NESREA had served several notices on the two companies to comply with the EIA guidelines.
“We have written to these companies several times, but they have failed to respond and that has made us to carry out our legal mandate to seal-off their offices.
“NESREA will not fold its arms and watch the degradation of Nigerian environment and I assure you that this dispensation will not accept the violation of environmental laws any longer.
“These are not the only companies that have erred, so, we have equally issued notice to all others, even some quarry sites. We have penalties for any violation of environmental laws and their refusal to comply will further attract fines,” he said.
According to him, Julius Berger had violated the environmental law in their location of construction sites in Lugbe, Idu, and Games Village, among others.
In his reaction, the Head of Public Affairs Department of Julius Berger Construction Company, Clement Iloba, said that the company did not receive any notice.
“Julius Berger is one of the private organisations that is known for compliance with all laws in this country and this action by NESREA is very embarrassing.
“I am insisting that we never received any notice to this regard, but, we have allowed them to do their job.
“We are going to meet their management to discuss with them and I am sure that we will resolve the matter amicably,” he said.
Mr. Iloba advised the Federal Ministry of Environment to clearly define responsibilities of agencies within its ministry to avoid inter-agency duplication of duties.
“Several agencies have come to us handling similar issues, we have been attending to Abuja Environmental Protection Board, concerning environment matters and today, it’s NESREA with the same issue.
“I think it’s high time we knew who is responsible for what.
“What NESREA is saying about our refusal to comply with the EIA is not known to us, it is speculative because we have not violated any environmental law. But I believe we will resolve it at the end of the day,” he said.
There was a mild drama at the gates of the Julius Berger headquarters when NESREA officials were about to lock the main gate of its corporate headquarters located at Utako.
The security guards and police officers attached to the company resisted vehemently against the sealing of the main entrance.
It took the intervention of some members of management, led by Mr. Iloba to calm the situation as he allowed NESREA officials to seal-off the gate.
“Go ahead and do your job, we will discuss with you in your office,” he said.
The enforcement at the office of Arab Contractors was peaceful as NESREA officials locked the two gates of the company without resistance.
The security man on guard said that most of the senior members of staff were yet to resume duty.