OVER 10,000 citizens, including women and children, in the Edo State axis of the Niger Delta, have been cut-off from the source of their drinking water following an oil spill which occurred at a facility belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The development is currently causing serious concern in the environmental rights community in the volatile oil region.

Already, the country's foremost environmental rights advocacy platform, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) is pressing the Federal Government to compel the NNPC to clean up the Akhiaba River in Edo State, polluted by the corporation’s facility and compensate two communities impacted by the spill.

The river, shared by Urhuokuosa-Nowa and Okeaghianwan communities in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area has remained in a polluted state since July 9, 2010 when the spill was first noticed and has placed both communities in dire need of water.

ERA's field monitors say until a few days back, children that drank the water were admitted in various hospitals in the state capital, Benin City.

In an e-mail wired to AkanimoReports on Thursday, from Benin City, ERA/FoEN bemoaned what they described as NNPC’s “nonchalance” to the demands of the people for a cleanup, insisting that the long silence of the corporation is an act of insensitivity which the Federal Government must investigate.

"While we have never failed to condemn acts of impunity on our environment by oil multinationals, it is simply unacceptable for our own NNPC to turn a deaf ear to calls by the community people for a cleanup of their river. This injustice must stop", said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey.

Bassey, who is also the Chair of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) revealed that ERA monitors that visited the impacted communities found the surface of the river covered with oily substances and a putrid smell that pervades the air.

"Time and again we have said that the NNPC has been negligent in the maintenance of its facilities. From Mowe in Ogun State to Abesan and Ijegun in Lagos, the situation is the same: ill maintained facilities that affect water and disrupt the lives of the people", the front line environmental rights activist said.

Bassey claimed that the demand of the impacted communities reinforces ERA/FoEN’s conviction on the need for a total overhaul and replacement of NNPC obsolete pipelines across the federation and an investigation to ascertain the cause of this situation

Green Hotlines
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