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Senate urges Agip oil to remediate Ijaw community affected by spill

*As Lawan seeks economic ties between Nigeria, Turkey, S/Korea

Motolani Oseni, Lagos

The Senate has urged the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited to accelerate environmental action on remediating the Ogboinbiri community affected by the crude oil spill in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State within the next ninety days.

This is even as the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has advocated for closer collaboration between Nigeria, Turkey and South Korea particularly in parliamentary engagements and also in the areas of economy and technology.

On the crude oil spill in Ogboinbiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, the chamber commended Agip oil for providing some monetary compensation to the affected community as consolation for the hardship caused by the spill after considering a report by its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions over the alleged failure by the oil company to pay compensation to the community affected by crude oil spillage.

Chairman of the Committee, Patrick Akinyelure, in his presentation, on Wednesday, said the panel received a petition from Dunobene Perekeme on behalf of the Ogboinbiri community.

According to him, the Committee in its findings observed that the incident of oil spill occurred on June 5, 2020, during the nationwide lockdown, and was reported to the relevant government regulatory agencies.

He noted that the impact of the oil spill had grossly affected the means of livelihood of residents of the Ogboinbiri community who were predominantly fishermen, lumbers and farmers.

Akinyelure disclosed that the clean-up of the affected area was done without the participation of the host community to ascertain whether or not the claim of third party inference by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC) was the cause of the spill.

The petitioner, Dunobene Perekeme, in his petition to the Committee, requested NAOC to ensure proper clean-up and remediation of the environment without delay.

He also requested that relief materials be provided to the victims of the crude oil spill to cushion the effect of loss of livelihood by the polluter (NAOC).

Perekeme, while reeling out a list of demands, requested that a total of N3.5 billion be paid as specific and general damages for the claimants whose properties, means of livelihood and health were impacted by the spill.

Out of the total sum, he explained that N500 million naira for compensation to all claimants as damages to their properties.

In addition, he noted that N20 million would be paid to each claimant as damages for their health, bringing the total amount to N2.02 billion on health claims.

He said the sum of N1 billion on the other hand was intended for general damages to the claimants for loss of livelihood to ameliorate their suffering.

In a related development, the Senate President in separate audiences, on Wednesday, with the Ambassadors of Turkey, Hidayet Bayraktar and South Korea, Kim Young-Chae, who paid him visits in his office at the National Assembly, told his first guest, the Ambassador of Turkey, that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate “will be glad to have a parliamentary relationship with the Turkish Grand Parliament.

“Whatever we do at the executive level, I know so many agreements were signed the last time the President was here.

“The National Assembly can be of help here because some of the agreements need to be actually activated or supported by legislation so that we have a better and more enduring arrangement that withstand the test of time.

“So the relationship between the two parliaments of Nigeria and Turkey is very important.

“We have already established a Senate Nigeria/Turkey Parliament Friendship Group but we are yet to start any activities.

“So with this visit, I want to tell you clearly that we are ready as a parliament to engage with our colleagues in Turkey and convey our message to the Speaker of the Grand Parliament of Turkey that the Senate particularly is also willing to share the experience with them and we are prepared to exchange visits so that we benefit from each other.”

Earlier, the Turkish Ambassador told the Senate President that “during our President’s visit, the thing that we have noticed is that the parliamentary dimension of our relationship is not too strong.

“We are trying to intensify relationships in that field.”

Also speaking to the Ambassador of South Korea, the Senate President applauded the relationship between Nigeria and South Korea.

“The relationship between South Korea and Nigeria can only be better. The growing trade relationship is commendable but we need to improve on it so that we can benefit from your technological advancement in the agriculture sector particularly”, he said.

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Chuka Francis

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