Lagos Establishes Committee to Forestall Unrest in Oil Producing Areas

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• Inaugurates high, magistrate courts in Badagry
Gboyega Akinsanmi
Determined to prevent the recurrence of the Niger Delta issues within its territory, the Lagos State Government on Thursday established the State Oil Producing Areas Community Relations Committee to forestall conflict between the host communities and oil companies.

 Aside, the state government inaugurated a six-courtroom complex in Badagry, noting that it demonstrated its commitment to the rule of law and social justice and a testimony of its determination to ensure that distance or geographical location was not a barrier to the access to justice in the state.

These are contained in separate addresses the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode delivered at the inauguration of the State Oil Producing Areas Community Relations Committee and the state High/Magistrate Court in Badagry.

 The state had officially joined the league of oil producing states in the country after the discovery of oil in the deep waters of Badagry Area and the subsequent operation of in the Aje Oil Field, OML 113, by Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited in 2016.

 After inaugurating the community relations committee yesterday, Ambode reflected on the significance of oil to Nigeria, though lamented that its exploration had brought many negative effects in the oil producing communities and subsequently affecting the whole country.

 He, thus, said the exploration activities “have been found to create serious environmental challenges affecting health, social and economic activities, sustainable development and ecological balance, due to land degradation, air pollution, water pollution, deforestation and ecosystem degradation.

“These activities have led to agitations from communities and youth groups. The activities have also led to disruption of exploration activities, pipeline vandalisation and in extreme cases kidnapping and violence. This has made it difficult to conduct the business of oil production smoothly and ensure that the relationships between the oil companies and their host communities remain cordial at all times.”

 Ambode, however, said Lagos, being the home of Nigeria’s most critical commercial activities and now an oil producing state, cannot afford to have any community unrests or disruption of the peace, thereby necessitating the establishment of the committee “to interface between the host communities and oil companies in Badagry.”

 He said it was imperative for the oil companies and their host communities “to enjoy a very warm and mutually beneficial relationship. We have constituted a Committee for the Lagos State Oil Producing Areas Relations, cutting across the oil producing communities in Badagry to prevent the re-occurrence of the Niger Delta issues in Lagos State.”

 Among others, he said the committee would interface between the host communities and the oil companies in Badagry and coordinate a seamless implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) interventions planned for the Badagry Oil Producing Areas by oil producing companies in Badagry.

 Besides, Ambode pointed out that the committee would also coordinate community and development issues between the host communities, government and oil producing companies operating in Badagry and ensure peace and harmony between host communities and oil producing companies in Badagry.

 He therefore assured that the state government “is committed to creating a conducive environment for all to thrive especially in our budding oil industry. We will always work to protect our people and ensure their improved welfare while at the same time providing an investor-friendly environment.
“On our part, we will take proactive measures to prevent oil spillage and where it happens, quickly move to clean it up according to globally accepted standards. We will also ensure the safety and security of our communities and operators at all times.

 “Badagry is on the way to becoming a major hub for oil activities in Nigeria. The upcoming Badagry Deep Sea Port will provide logistic support for the oil and gas industry and further support the expansion of the economy of this axis thereby making it more viable and livable,” he said.

 At the unveiling of a six-courtroom complex, Ambode revealed that the  entire town of Badagry including residents before the Benin Republic border all the way to Okokomaiko and its environs were served by only two court rooms; one for the High Court and the other, for the Magistrates.

 He said two courtrooms were grossly inadequate, noting that Badagry “is fast evolving as a major economic hub in the State with vast potential especially in tourism. Its ongoing transformation through infrastructure development “are meant to open up these parts to investors who will take advantage of the multi-million oil exploration activity and the Deep Sea port project among others.

“As the prospects of prosperity begin to manifest, Badagry will continue to experience influx of people who will engage in different types of economic activities as well as making it a place of residence. The resultant increase in social and economic activities will naturally lead to a corresponding increase in disputes which would require an efficient justice system to resolve, as quickly as possible.”
On this ground, the governor said state government demonstrated its commitment “to social development and improvement on the dispensation of justice and maintenance of law and order with the inauguration of a six-courtroom complex in this beautiful and serene town of Badagry.

 “It is our firm belief that a functional, responsive and dynamic judicial system constitutes an indispensable component of good governance. This newly constructed court has been equipped with modern facilities for the comfort of not only Judges and Magistrates but also everyone including lawyers and members of the public.”
He noted that the court was designed “to ensure the welfare and security of all personnel and members of the public who have cause to be in the Chambers of Justice with the installation of CCTV surveillance cameras and monitors within the various courtrooms and the entire vicinity of the complex.

 “There is a well-equipped library, exhibit room and conference room facilities for the continued training and re-training of justice personnel assigned to the complex. This facility is also equipped with administrative offices that would service the 6-courtrooms and also accommodate the Office of Public Defender (OPD) which will continue to provide legal services and advice to the vulnerable.