Host communities to sue IOCs, FG for $1trn over damage from oil activities

*Bayelsa villagers lose livelihood to oil pollution

Mkpoikana Udoma

Port Harcourt — Oil and gas host communities in the Niger Delta have vowed to file a litigation against oil companies and the federal government to the tune of $1 trillion for the damages which oil and gas exploration activities have done to the health, environment and livelihoods of the people.

The President, Host Communities Network of Nigeria, Prince Barbs Pawuru, who affirmed the call for environmental, health and livelihoods audit of the Niger Delta, regretted that the oil and gas sector was about cost and benefits, and that while host communities bear the cost, the oil operators and the government take the benefits.

Pawuru, speaking at the second Niger Delta Alternatives Convergence 2023 in Port Harcourt, disclosed that offshore oil explorations was more attractive to multinationals due to absence of monitoring, unlike in the onshore, adding that crude oil theft and undocumented oil export was more prevalent offshore that onshore.

According to him, the federal government, in connivance with the oil companies, has destroyed the Niger Delta communities, hence they are are enemies of over 3,000 oil and gas host communities in the country.

“At Host Communities Network of Nigeria, we are not even talking about benefits, but since you (oil companies and government) have destroyed our environment for over 60 years, you must carryout an audit, let us know the impact of your operations on our health, livelihoods, environment, then will demand cost.

“We are going to sue both the federal government and the oil companies up to the tune of $1 trillion which is the worth of the destruction they have done to us over the years, over 65 years.

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“We are suing them either here in Nigeria or anywhere in the world to get the money so we can repair our communities. We are over 3,000 host communities in the Niger Delta and they have destroyed our lands and our people, many of us have died due effects of oil and gas explorations,” he said.

Asked why the host communities were just waking up after 65 years, Pawuru said: “The agitations have been there before now. They are what we called benefit captures, few people who benefit from the destruction and thus sabotage the efforts. The companies and government divide us, some get peanuts from the government.

“We are not benefit captures, we are not after peanuts, we are saying ‘do the environmental, health and livelihoods audit and tell us the amount and we will also do our own to compare’. We are not asking them to give us the benefits of oil and gas, but they should just pay us for the destruction they have done. How much is the cost of a life? Can it be quantified?”

Also speaking, a representative of oil producing communities in Abia State, Mr Dike Nwankwo, lamented that the state government takes the 13 percent oil derivative fund while ignoring and neglecting the local government area, LGA, producing the oil.

“It is only one LGA that has oil in Abia State, and the state government just take the 13 percent that comes to the state and ignore the local government.

“Ukwa West Local Government has nothing at all to boast of, even when we are the ones giving Abia State 13 percent,” Nwankwo said.

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