By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Niger Delta stakeholders, including oil-producing communities, regulators and civil society groups, yesterday warned against the open destruction of illegal refineries by the security forces operating in the region.
In a communique released at the end of the quarterly meeting of the Multi-stakeholder Platform (MSP) on Oil Spill in the Niger Delta, the concerned groups said the action by soldiers was capable of further destroying the ecosystem of the region.
At the MSP forum, which is an initiative of the Nigeria Security and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) and supported by the Department of International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom Government, the groups unanimously agreed that oil spillage in whatever form or by whatever agency of government remains unacceptable.
“No matter whatever anyone has to say, there is no gain whatsoever in oil spill. If there is any gain at all, it is ad hoc, perfunctory, selfish and easily short-lived with longer term negative impact on the people, the economy and the environment,” the stakeholders said.
In the statement released in Yenagoa and signed by Dr. Austin Onuoha, the chief facilitator, participants called on security agencies to henceforth devise new means of destroying bush refineries discovered in the creeks.
“Security agencies should collaborate in stemming the tide of illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism and desist from destroying and burning seized oil drums and tankers. They pollute the environment and deny relevant agencies evidence for prosecuting pipeline vandals
“They are advised to train a special team to manage security operations during joint investigation visits to oil spill sites,” the stakeholders noted.
The meeting called on all and sundry to support the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to deliver on its mandate of responding and managing oil spills in a sustainable manner.
The stakeholders also called on the federal government to increase funding to NOSDRA to enable it to discharge its functions on oil spill response and management effectively and in a timely manner.
However, communities were warned to ensure that they do all in their powers to prevent oil spill, pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering within their communities