Communities impacted by the 2011 Shell’s Bonga offshore oil spill in Bayelsa and Delta States have commenced verification of claims by people impacted by the incident.
George Ibobra, the immediate past Chairman of the Community Development Committee Chairman of Koluama 2 in Southern Ijaw Local Government of Bayelsa, told journalists on Monday in Yenagoa that the verification had reached the final stages.
Mr. Ibobra who represents Koluama 2 on the Spill Impact Verification Committee, said the December 2011 oil spill incident impacted six local governments in Delta and Bayelsa.
Some 40,000 barrels of crude were discharged into the Atlantic during an operational mishap at the oil field operated by Shell Nigeria Production and Exploration Company.
The House of Representatives and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency had in December 2014 recommended a compensation of $3.96 billion for victims of the incident.
Mr. Ibobra explained that the impacted communities in Delta and Bayelsa had inaugurated a 30 man committee in 2014 drawn from the six LGAs in the two states to conduct the verification of claims by victims in Delta and Bayelsa.
According to him, Southern Ijaw, Brass and Ekeremor LGA all on the Atlantic shoreline were the worst affected in Bayelsa while Burutu, Warri North and Warri South LGAs in Delta being the worst hit in Delta.
He said that some groups had taken undue advantage of the ongoing verification to circulate compensation forms to unsuspecting members of the public across the two states.
Mr. Ibobra advised members of the public to disregard the syndicates who were working outside the affected areas and advised those who suffered impact to approach their community leaders to get verified.
“It has gotten to our notice that people are currently circulating oil spill compensation forms in most Bayelsa Communities.
“We wish to say that for the purposes of the Bonga oil Spill incident impacted people in Brass, Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor Local Governments in Bayelsa are being verified through their community leaders.
“Any other group apart from the Community Development Committee Chairmen is unknown to us and whoever purchases forms from other sources does so at his or her own risk,” Mr. Ibobra said.
The Community leader said that the committee was collecting demographic and personal data of impacted fishermen with a view to assisting them to file their claims after a sworn affidavit with Commissioner of Oaths at any high court.
He said that the committee had allocated quotas to each of the impacted communities and issued forms accordingly and observed that those circulating forms outside the committee would not be captured.
“We are very meticulous in what we are doing and anyone selling forms to the public will be fished out eventually because we have set limits and are working within agreed quota so any extra form cannot be accounted for.
“The purpose is to authenticate the claims before they are submitted the SNEPCO for payment because we do not want people to make bogus claims that will spoil the case of those who genuinely suffered impact,” r. Ibobra said.