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Oil Pollution Displaces Nigerian Fishermen to Guinea

By Ugochukwu Chimeziri


Massive oil spillages across the Niger Delta by transnational oil companies has displaced fishermen and other small fishing companies to Cameroon and Guinea territorial waters where they could find safe
water for their fishing businesses.


This was contained in the opening speech delivered by Mr Nnimmo Bassey, executive director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) recently at a training organized by ERA/FoEN in Abuja for environment
journalists.


Bassey said that aquatic lives in the rivers in the Niger Delta have all been polluted by oil spillages while a population of other aquatic lives has been exterminated by same oil pollution in the region.


“This has forced fishermen to relocate to water bodies outside Nigeria but the problem is that these people are consistently being harassed, arrested and
extorted by coast guards of Cameroon
and Guinea Bissau. Some times they pay as high as N100, 000 (US$680.00) equivalents to
secure their release from the force men of the affected nations,” he said.


In the meantime, AFP has reported that the UN Environment Programme has said that a survey of "devastating" damage caused by a decade of oil spillage in Nigeria
will not apportion blame, despite evidence it was partly caused by organised
trafficking of crude.


A UNEP project leader caused an outcry this month when he said an estimated 90 per cent of oil spills in the Niger Delta's Ogoniland region were the result of criminal activity rather than leakage from operations
by a joint venture including oil giant Shell.


Mike Cowing, leading a UNEP project surveying the damage, suggested on August 10 that higher levels of Nigerian society must be involved, describing the illicit hoarding of oil as one of the root causes of the spills.


Another UNEP spokesman, Nick Nuttall told AFP that the survey, which is still ongoing, aimed only to map the location, nature, extent and implications of oil contamination in impoverished and volatile Ogoniland.


Cowing also told journalists in Geneva that the spillage from pipelines and installations in the southeastern region of Nigeria was potentially
more harmful than some of the world's biggest disasters, like April's oil rig
disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.


Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), a global federation of environmental rights advocacy groups, has accused the United Nations (UN) of unfair dealing in their probe of devastating oil spills
in the Niger Delta, Nigeria's
main oil and gas basin.


The group which has Bassey of Nigeria as its Chair in Nigeria, is outraged by reports that a major UN investigation into Nigeria oil spills particularly in Ogoni, the home of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, was
allegedly funded by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell.


Friends of the Earth Netherlands - who is also representing three Nigerian farmers who are thrown out of business by Shell’s oil spillages in Nigeria has submitted to The Hague court an
additional written request to obtain access to 30 of Shell’s internal
documents.


This, Bassey, is necessary because the Anglo-Dutch super oil and gas major has so far refused to allow inspection of the documents.


A Report by Akanimo gathered that the request which
was made recently is part of a court case involving four Nigerian farmers and
fishermen and Milieudefensie versus the oil company, due to severe oil
pollution in the Niger Delta in Nigeria.

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