Niger Delta communities petition UN, accuse oil firms of abusing climate change programme

Residents of Okpai, Benaku, Obodugwa and Irri Communities in Delta State, Nigeria have cried out against alleged exploitation of their communities by oil firms, ENI Agip, and Xenegia.

In a petition to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, leaders of the communities said the oil producing companies had ironically taken advantage of the UN Clean Development Mechanism to further pollute their land.

The petition said ENI Agip has engaged in the illegal exploitation of their land and gas flaring since 1960. It also said Xenergia has been flaring gas illegally, within Obodugwa community in Kwale, Delta State, since it commenced production of oil in the region in 2008.

“We are particularly worried that the UN Clean Development Mechanism is being used as a tool by these companies to perpetuate pollution of our communities,” the communities said in a letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES.

The leaders of the communities said they were hopeful when the companies registered under the UN’s CDM programme, and had hoped that their registration would mean an end to the illegal flaring of gas in the region.

ENI Agip was registered on December 23, 2005 while Xenergia registered on November 28, 2012.

The communities said gas flaring was increasing rather than decreasing.

“We are even more appalled at the fact that the executive of the UN clean development mechanism failed woefully in its responsibility by not taking the requisite steps to ensure the safeguard of our lives, as stipulated in the accreditation procedure of the Un Clean Development Mechanism Ditto for the Designated Operational Entities, (DOEs),” they said.

The community leaders called for an immediate introduction of a fact-finding committee by the UN to investigate the alleged exploitation and violation of their right to live.

Social Action, a Port Harcourt-based nongovernmental organisation that has conducted studies on the implementation of CDM in Niger Delta communities, blamed “government conspiracy with powerful oil companies” for the communities’ fate.

“The Nigerian government has conveniently looked the other way while oil corporations operating in the country willfully flout its own laws, industry regulations as well as spurn even a court ruling on gas flaring,” said Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, head of Social Action’s Abuja office.

“While the government goes to the international fora (as the climate conferences {CoP}) and makes elaborate speeches on Nigeria and the climate change quandary, these speeches for us remain mere hypocrisies and pretentious lip-services so long as government refuses to deal with the fundamental causes of this in Nigeria, major amongst which is – gas flaring.”

The spokesperson for ENI/Agip, Tajudeen Adigun, did not comment when contacted. He neither picked nor return calls. He did not also respond to text messages.


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