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May 20, 2024
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Bayelsa Governor Threatens Lawsuit Against Oil Firms Over Pollution

Douye Diri, Bayelsa state governor, says the state is considering taking legal actions against international oil companies (lOCs) in Bayelsa state over failure to engage in a constructive discourse.

Diri spoke at the annual convention and fundraising of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) of the Americas, held in Houston, Texas, United States, on Sunday.

The convention was themed ‘Ijaw-Nation: Nurturing Partnership through Symbiotic Relationships Towards Homeland, Social, and Economic Development’.

According to NAN, Diri said Shell is complicit in environmental degradation in Bayelsa. On January 16, Shell announced plans to sell its Nigerian onshore oil assets to a local consortium for over $1.3 billion.

Diri said after waiting for several years for dialogue without Shell or any other IOC coming forward, “we will be compelled to institute legal action against the Dutch super oil major and other IOCs”.

‘‘Today, Shell is divesting and I call on the minister of petroleum (Oil) that we have a duty to ensure that Shell’s divestment must take care of ameliorating our environment,” he said.

“Today, our flora and fauna are gone. Our beautiful environment is also gone.” Diri said the state will need the “support of our brothers and sisters in the diaspora because there is so much we will achieve if we work together”.

In his remarks, Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state for petroleum resources (oil), asked the ljaw residents to stand with President Bola Tinubu in the advocacy against oil theft and environmental pollution.

“If you go to our area in Bayelsa State, it is likely to be the most polluted state but people may not know,” Lokpobiri said.

“What is responsible for this pollution, it could be mainly the people or companies. The people in that state are involved in getting illegal crude oil for illegal refining.

“After the refining, they throw the rest into the river. You will agree with me that by the law, federal government owns the water and land resources. So, it behoves everyone to join hands together to fight this menace.”

Lokpobiri urged Nigerians in the diaspora to support the efforts of the government in preserving the environment, asking them to encourage Nigerians in the Niger Delta region to refrain from vandalising pipelines.

“It will cause more harm to the communities than the little money they will make. No matter the proceed gotten from the illegal refining, it cannot feed the people of the communities. So, we appeal to those perpetuating such acts to desist,” he said 

“President Tinubu will continue to support all Nigerians in diaspora, including the ljaw people, because we occupy strategic position in the country and oil still remains the main strength of our economy.

“It accounts for at least 90 percent of forex. We occupy the entire areas of coastline.” 

Lokpobiri said for the country to benefit from the resource, stakeholders must collaborate with the government at all levels.

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