Bishops demand urgent implementation of UNEP report

2011-08-25
THE PUNCH Newspaper

Catholic Bishops of Niger Delta have demanded urgent implementation of the remedial measures recommended by the United Nations Environmental programme (UNEP)’s report on Ogoni/land.

In a communiqué issued at the end of a two days forum in Port Harcourt, the bishops said they were surprised that two weeks after the report was released, nothing has been done by government to address the issues raised.

“We are dismayed at the fact that our government was well aware of these facts and did not proactively initiate remedial action to assuage the sufferings of our people, arguing that two weeks after the release of the report, we are not aware of anything that has been done to address the issues that were raised in the report”, they said.

They said after a thorough explanation of the content of the report, they were horrified by details of environmental abuse occasioned by the successive oil spills and sheer neglect of responsibility by the operators concerned.

They condemned Shell for not living up to its operational and corporate Principles, which they said resulted in life threatening consequences that emerged from the report.

The Communiqué which was read by the Secretary of the body, Rev. Fr. Edward Obi, asked for a sustainable remedial measure to the problem, warning against any attempt to sweep the report under the carpet.

The bishops called on government to immediately put in place a mechanism for sustainable supply of potable water to affected communities, to commission and publish a comprehensive and systematic survey of environmental degradation across the Niger Delta region; to initiate a complete restructuring of regulatory agencies such as NOSDRA, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as well as the Ministry of Environment for effective and accountable service delivery.

They urged Shell to apply internationally accepted standards in their operations in the Niger Delta adding that stakeholders in Shell should hold the company accountable for its practices.

They also called on the civil society and the media to closely monitor and publish the activities of government and multi-national oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.

The spiritual fathers recongized the pains and sufferings that Niger Delta Communities had endured over the years, as well as the degradation of the ecosystem, but noted that in pursuing their legitimate rights, they should refrain from acts of violence and vandalism of oil installations.

 

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