Indigenes of Benikrukru community in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri-South West Local Government Area of Delta State have demanded “adequate” compensation from an oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited over an oil spill they alleged has endangered their source of livelihood.
The oil spill, which occurred in February 2021, according to the community, is from CNL’s 16 Makaraba-Utonana-Abiteye Right of Way, in Chevron’s western area of operations, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
They explained that the crude oil discharged into the rivers and environs has since resulted in large scale devastation and degradation of the environment, disrupted fishing and farming activities and visited the people of the area with untold hardship.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday and jointly signed by Mr. Solomon Eris, Chairman; Mr. Kingsley Ukuli, Secretary and Pastor Blessing Tortor, Public Relations Officer, demanding adequate compensation in both financial and material terms for all the affected individuals and communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom.
According to the statement titled “Our Position On Oil Spill That Occured At 16′ Makaraba-Utonana -Abiteye Trunkline Operated By Chevron Nigeria Limited In Gbaramatu Kingdom,” the indigenes noted that in the past year, Chevron which prides itself as one of the best organisations in the country as regards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), has not bothered to provide the communities with relief materials.
The community, however, described the development as callously wicked, out of tune with international best practices and in flagrant disobedience to all known national and international labour laws.
“The entire indigenes of Benikrukru community in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri-South West Local Government Area of Delta State, have observed with dissatisfaction, that after over one year, an oil spillage occurred at the 16” Makaraba-Utonana-Abiteye trunkline owned and operated by an American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, located within the kingdom, the company, has against all known logic continued to demonstrate lackadaisical attitude to the affected individuals and the entire Benikruku communities.
“Making this development a reality to worry about is that despite the excruciating pains resulting from the ugly development which the victims and the communities have stoically endured, Chevron has neither provided relief materials to the affected individuals nor shown remorse for their failings and failures or deemed it necessary to take an active step to clean up the affected areas through environmental remediation/upgrade.
“Adding context to the discourse, it is important to underline that this dangerous oil spillage was first discovered in the early morning of February 16, 2021, by the people of the community who were predominantly into fishing. The crude oil discharged into the rivers and environs has since resulted in large scale devastation and degradation of the environment, disrupted fishing and farming activities and visited the people of the areas with untold hardship.
“Ordinarily, we expected Chevron to come up with a clearly and adequately conceptualized remediation plan and proposal on how to compensate the affected individuals and communities. But to our greatest chagrin, Chevron via a series of statements/releases absolved itself of any wrongdoing, noting that the said spillage neither emanated from nor has anything to do with their facilities.
“This high level of crass corporate irresponsibility on the part of the American oil giant continued until a Joint Investigation was carried out and established beyond reasonable doubt that suspected Chevron facility which was installed in the year 1974, has recorded what the report described as ‘Two Pin Holes’, a development that did not only end Chevron’s season of lies but established its culpability.
“Those that made up the JIV team include, but are not limited to Chevron Nigeria Limited team, representatives from the National Oil Detective And Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Delta State Ministry of Environment, the honourable Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Delta State, and representatives of affected communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom.
The community accused the international community and the Nigerian government of “looking on while we suffer this form of environmental degradation, killing, torture in the hand of Chevron Nigeria Limited”.
“This development we can no longer accept as it is callously wicked, out of tune with international best practices and in flagrant disobedience to all known national and international labour laws.
“It is against this backdrop that we make the following demands as prerequisites for peace.
“Chevron must, in the interim, prove itself both responsible and responsive by providing adequate relief materials for the affected individuals and communities.
“We call on the Chevron Nigerian Limited management to sign the JIV document with all the relevant parties, communities and government agencies.
“While that is being done, we demand an adequate compensation in both financial and material terms to all the affected individuals and communities in Gbaramatu kingdom.
“We demand that Chevron, with all the relevant agencies at both state and Federal Levels, commence a process of clean and total remediation of the affected areas.
“Finally, as a sustainable way of forestalling future occurrence, we demand that Chevron Nigeria Limited and other oil prospecting, exploration and production companies operating in Gbaramatu Kingdom activate process(es) of replacing such weak pipes that can no longer withstand the daily pressure emanating from crude oil evacuation,” it added.