Kolo Creek Oil Leak Victims Seek Assistance For Legal Redress | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Metro, Niger Delta, Region

Kolo Creek Oil Leak Victims Seek Assistance For Legal Redress

Posted: May 25, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Farmers impacted by the April 15 oil leak from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Kolo Creek Oil Fields in Otuasega, Bayelsa State, have appealed to environmental right groups for legal assistance.

Diezani Alison-Maduekwe, Minister of Petroleum

Diezani Alison-Maduekwe, Minister of Petroleum

The farmers told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Otuasega that they have decided to seek legal redress over damages they suffered from the incident.

They said the appeal has become necessary because they wanted to recover the losses they suffered from the incident which now made them indigent.

Mrs Harriet Igbuasi, whose three banana farms were affected by the spill, said that they were unable to pay for the legal services required to pursue the matter.

“We are counting on the support of humanitarian organisations to help us to assemble a team of lawyers to take up our case on humanitarian grounds.

“We are unable to afford the cost of legal services to seek justice in the court. We would even want to also file a case on the issue in The Netherlands,” she said.

Igbuasi said that a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to probe the spill excluded their farms and fish ponds despite their efforts to draw the attention of the team.

Mrs Kowele Saffic, whose fish ponds were also affected, said that they felt betrayed and were aggrieved as their economic interests were not protected by the investigation team.

According to her, the affected farmers have resolved to seek legal redress because SPDC has remained adamant on the issue. “The most annoying thing is the arrogance exhibited by the oil firm. They are claiming that the spill was caused by sabotage and abandoned the polluted environment.

“We are aware that the regulations which they rely on to absolve themselves of the responsibility also states that the operator of the field where pollution occurs should clean up the site.

“That responsibility is theirs no matter the cause, but SPDC officials declined to capture our farms as impacted areas.

“It was obvious that the spill happened because their surveillance staff were absent from duty,” Saffic said.

Saffic said the abandoned spill sites were further being degraded, and appealed to the state government to intervene and compel the company to clean up the impacted sites.

The farmers also appealed to the state government to assist them in prevailing on the oil firm to also compensate them.

Bayelsa Commissioner for Environment, Mr Iniruo Wills, had told NAN that the state government would verify the reported exclusion of some impacted sites from the exercise.

“We have to look at the information and verify it, and if it is true that the impacted area was larger than what was originally captured, we shall find a way of addressing these concerns,” Wills said.

However, Mr Precious Okoloba, Head of Media Relations in SPDC, told NAN that the oil firm stood by the report of the JIV.

“Under Nigerian Oil and Gas Regulations, the JIV determines the cause and impact of spill incidents.

“The investigation team which visited the site of the Kolo Creek spill on April 16 concluded that the spill was caused by sabotage, Okolobo said.