By Amgbare Ekaunkumo,Yenagoa
The Elders and Youths of Brass Kingdom in Bayelsa State have written to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NOAC) over an alleged delay in the remediation and compensation for the over 2.6billion barrel of toxic waste dumped into the Brass canal due to the operational activities of the company in the area for over 48 years.
According to the Brass Elders, repeated promises and failures have been made by Agip management to the Bayelsa State Government and its host communities in Brass local government, the continued annual discharge of the over 150,000 barrels of toxic waste by oil company into the Brass river through the canal has contaminated the soil, ground waters and air quality of the area and degraded the health and livelihood of the people of brass kingdom.
The Elders stated this through their legal counsels, Hon. Iniruo Wills and Dr. Dickson E.Omukoro of the Ntephe, Smith and Wills Law Chambers, in a letter to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company(NAOC), pointed out that the letter is a reminder to the company for the desperate need for proper remediation of ecological damage caused by the continual discharge of toxic waste at the Brass terminal every day for 48 years, adding “the community need adequate compensation based on impartial impact assessment and a restoration and pollution prevention plan per best practice.”
The letter stated that the people of Brass Kingdom insisted that though they have remained patient and law abiding over the issue, saying “we put you on notice to stop desperate attempts by your officers to compromise or induce key interests, aimed at evading regulatory compliance, frustrating the Ministerial directive for an independent comprehensive inpact assessment and to corruptly waive NOAC’s environmental obligations to the people of the Brass Kingdom. The backdoor attempts referenced are examples of the practice of some oil industry operators that has caused protracted conflict and insecurity in the Niger Delta. Which NOAC should be wary of.”
On the series of engagement among the various stakeholders, regulatory agencies and the people of Brass Kingdom, the Counsels to the Brass Kingdom accused Agip of persistently trying to frustrate the conduct of the CIA directed by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and allegedly hood winked the people of Brass Kingdom into signing away their constitutionally guaranteed rights to a clean, healthy environment and adequate compensation for damage suffered.”
The letter reads in part, “NOAC’s latest scheme to avoid liability has been to smuggle an environmental liability waiver clause into hastily proposed CRS Memorandum of Understanding, despite refusing to sign any MoU on SCR projects since 2014 and to put massive pressure on selected community leaders to sign it, thereby creating a potential blackmail tool against the kingdom and its people. The draft ouster clause, unprecedented even in a military rule setting.
“There are also indications that, the defective tender notice having failed, NOAC may now be trying to surreptitiously stampede influential community figures to commit in advance to supporting NOAC’s arbitrarily preferred contractor for a phantom remediation project without submitting itself to the conduct of the CIA that will determine appropriate remediation measures, scope and design, without transparently following due contracting processes applicable to the Federal Government Joint Venture (JV) operations in the oil industry.
“NOAC continue to insist expressly and by conduct that it would use its own unilateral study as a basis for remediation emboldened by the presumption that it has succeeded in delaying or preventing the regulatory MDAs from conducting CIA thus far. As you know, a person’s cannot be judge in his own case and a defaulter. In this case a chronic violator, cannot write his own investigation. NOAC conduct is reckless and in serial violation of national and international environmental laws and treaties-civil and criminal, disregard all known norms of corporate responsibilities and ethics.
“In its cumulative gravity borders on crime against humanity that may render NAOC and its parent company. ENI, liable to investigation and prosecution by the international criminal court(ICC).NAOC conduct also provides grounds for relevant communal and institutional stakeholders as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria to apply or press too for stiff legal sanctions touching on your licenses, operatorship and installations”, it stated.