By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—The people of the ancient Nembe Kingdom, in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, are demanding $1 billion compensation from Shell Petroleum Development Company and Nigerian Agip Oil Company, both operating in their domain, over what they described as the many years of despoliation of their environment.
In a petition to the United Nations, by Chief Nengi James and Francis Furo, chairman and secretary respectively, of Nembe Oil and Gas Committee, the people of the kingdom lamented that many years of gas flaring, oil spillages and dumping of industrial wastes in their environment had impacted negatively on their life span.
Calling for fairness, equity and justice in the management of the resources on their land, they noted with sadness that Nembe Kingdom alone, which produces 200,000 barrels of oil per day, is not linked to any part of the country by road.
The kingdom, according to them, is also not connected to the national grid, forcing them to make do with hurricane lamps and generators for those that could afford same while their only source of drinking water had long been polluted.
They said that the companies not only denied them employment but also compensation for the environmental despoliation being unleashed on them.
The petition, also copied the National Assembly, read: “We, the people of Nembe Kingdom, have a cause to cry out loud to you, because, we are seriously aggrieved over the shoddy treatment meted to us by the oil companies operating on our land. If we fail to call your attention to our plight now, there is the likelihood that we may not be able to tell our story after some years as we may have been slowly exterminated by the effects of oil spills, gas flaring and improper disposal of toxic wastes and materials in our kingdom.
“Therefore, it becomes imperative for us to alert the world body of our predicament before it becomes too late. As a result of gas flaring, frequent oil spillages and dumping of industrial toxic wastes, the life span of the average Nembe man and woman has been drastically reduced to 40 years. This is just too low and calls for serious investigation.
“In the light of the above, we want the United Nation to come to our kingdom for investigation and analysis of the environment and subject their findings to high level expert interpretations and opinions. These tests and analysis must include our land, rivers, creeks, streams, oil spill sites, toxic waste dumping sites and even the air we breathe so that, the truth of our claims would be made manifest for the indictment of the oil companies involved.”
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