THE Anambra Government has said it would enforce the order which stopped all petroleum mining activities in Oguikpele and Ogwuanocha communities both in Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state until the company involved formalised and regularised its activities.
Gov. Willie Obiano said this on Monday in Awka at a meeting between the Anambra Oil and Gas Development Committee (AOGDC), Ogwuikpele and Ogwuanocha Communities on Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Obiano, who was represented by Mrs Patricia Igwebuike, his Special Adviser on Petroleum Resources and Legal Matters, expressed displeasure that Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company (SEEPCO) engaged in illegal exploration without interfacing with government and getting approval.
Igwebuike, who declared any agreement between the communities and SEEPCO without the knowledge of government null and void, chided the company for doing its business without any form of EIA or CSR to the host communities but rather was devastating the livelihood of the people.
She said the government would ensure that the livelihood of the host communities was protected and that their basics needs and rights like hospitals, schools, jetties, scholarship and necessary compensation was paid.
She urged the communities to remain united and shun illegal parley with the company as the government was there to ensure that the state and communities get their full benefit from the oil exploration activities of SEEPCO.
On his part, Prof. Charles Ofuegbu, Chairman of AOGDC, a renowned Mining Geologist, said there was proven evidence that SEEPCO had been exploring the petroleum from the Ogbaru end of the Anambra Basin for years without due process.
Ofuegbu said rather than site their collection point in Anambra, the company laid pipes running into hundreds of kilometres to Oguta in Imo and Okpai in Delta states as collection point.
He said series of petition had attracted the Senate to visit the site after which a high powered Federal Government Committee comprising Defence Headquarters, NNPC, Anambra Government and SEEPCO and Federal Ministry of Environment was set up to address the situation.
The chairman said the communiqué from the meeting jointly signed by the representatives dated on Sept. 15, directed that SEEPCO should repair and restore the devastation caused the environment and ensure that there was EIA for the field.
That SEEPCO and NNPC should regularise its presence in Anambra and prioritise CSR to project affected communities with enlarged stakeholders’ engagement with all parties.
On his part, Mr Arinze Awogu, Transition Chairman of Ogbaru LGA, said the oil exploration activities in the council was already making some homesteads strangers in their lands because of massive environmental degradation.
Awogu said the absence of EIA was why petroleum mining and pipe laying activities had resulted to encroachment of the River Niger into people’s homes and farmland thereby making them strangers in their own lands.
He regretted that rather go into formal arrangement with relevant government authorities, SEEPCO was working hard to set the two communities against themselves by giving them paltry handouts.
He lauded the Anambra Government for its interest and urged the host communities not to yield to the divide and rule antics of the company.
Also, Igwe Oliver Nnaji, traditional ruler of Ogwuanocha, said he did not even enjoy the luxury of courtesy visit by the company until over two years when their presence was noticed.
Nnaji assured that Ogwuanocha and Ogwuikpele would cooperate with Anambra Government and relevant agencies in the bid to help them get their due share.
He regretted the extent of destruction that had happened to their environment as a result of the exploration activities.
Igwe Chukwuma Onyema, the traditional ruler of Ogwuikpele was represented by Emeodi Valentine a community leader. Other participants were the clergy, women leaders, youth leaders, civil society and security agencies, SEEPCO was not represented. (NAN)
– Oct. 5, 2020 @ 15:35 GMT |