Group urges visiting Dutch Minister to pressure Nigerian Government, Shell to clean up Ogoniland

Oil Polluted Field

The ERA/FoEN boss also demanded that Shell immediately commence decommissioning of its abandoned facilities in Ogoniland.

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The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has called on visiting Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Lilianne Ploumen, to pressure Shell to comply with and implement the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, report on Ogoniland.

The UNEP Assessment released on August 4, 2011, contains recommendations for clean up and remediation of the Niger Delta
community.

ERA/FoEN is re-echoing a call that has been made consistently in the last three years since the release of the report following the failure of the Nigerian government to compel Shell to begin clean-up of the heavily polluted community in Rivers State.

In a statement issued in Lagos, the group said Nigerians will no longer accept the watery argument that Shell is foot-dragging because the Nigerian government has refused to commit counterpart funds into the exercise, insisting that Shell caused the havoc in Ogoniland through its operational activities and must take responsibility.

“For us, the visit of Ms. Lilianne Ploumen is an opportunity to bring together the Nigerian government, Shell, and the governments of Netherlands and the United Kingdom which are home to Shell, to discuss and arrive at concrete steps for the implementation of the UNEP assessment,” said Godwin Ojo, ERA/FoEN Executive Director.

“We urge the visiting minister to use her good office to influence the Nigerian government and Shell to invite UNEP to set up a group comprising of government officials, Shell, Nigerian CSOs, Ogoni communities representatives and representatives of all institutions and governments that will contribute funds to the Environmental Restoration Funds for Ogoniland and ensure that the structures set up by the Nigerian government are in tandem with the UNEP recommendations.

“The money must be put down by Shell for the clean-up exercise. Shell being the operator should provide the $1 billion initial capital for the setting up of an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland to show commitment to the implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP,” Mr. Ojo added.

He added that, the Royal Dutch Shell Plc, RDS, which is the parent company of the Nigerian subsidiary and superintends the sharing of the petro-euro profits made from its operations in Nigeria, should not stand back but at this point support the company with both funds and technical expertise to conduct an acceptable clean-up exercise in Ogoniland.

Other demands by the group are:

The Nigerian government should as a matter of urgent national importance set up the Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP Assessment.

The establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration in Ogoniland to promote learning in other areas impacted by oil contamination in the Niger Delta and elsewhere in the world to run training courses in environmental monitoring and restoration and ultimately become a model for environmental restoration, attracting international attention.

The Nigerian government should review all the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, enabling laws to make it the sole agency for handling all oil spill-related issues management including taking steps to ensure that oil spill does not occur, and when it does, proper remediation and environmental recovery is carried out and impacted communities and individuals adequately restituted.

The funding structures of NOSDRA should be reviewed for effective discharge of its functions.

The ERA/FoEN boss also demanded that Shell immediately commence decommissioning of its abandoned facilities in Ogoniland, conduct integrity checks on its functional facilities, and bring existing facilities up to date while ensuring regular maintenance of such facilities to avoid further spillages.

“Shell should also commence immediately the cleaning up of all surface land impacted sites in Ogoniland to ensure that they are cleaned up and regained within the five years which the UNEP recommended bearing in mind that three years is already wasted on lame excuses on why the cleanup has not started. Anything short of this is unacceptable,” Mr. Ojo said.


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