The National Coordinator of Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), Sheriff Mulade, has said that the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is slow in responding to oil spillage.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja recently, Mulade said the agency has uncoordinated response to the plight of oil producing communities, adding that the Federal Government is more concerned with oil production than the plight of the communities.
He said this has allowed multinational oil companies to continue to destroy the environment without mechanisms for remediation.
“In Nigeria, we pay lip service to the environment. We should adopt capital punishment like we have in Angola for environmental offenders.
“Here, it takes NOSDRA more than two days to get to site of oil spillage. We also discovered that it is the multinational companies that provide logistics (accommodation, helicopter) for NOSDRA to assess the site,” he said.
He noted that such arrangement made it easy for the truth behind oil spills to be covered up.
While noting that pipelines in the oil-producing areas are overdue for replacement, leading to constant leakage, he said their investigation also revealed that pipeline vandalism has an undertone.
He said the vandalism is carried out by some of the companies to cover up equipment failure.
“When there is a leakage, the multinational will take the government agencies to other locations of vandalism, rather than the exact point of problem. They will now in collaboration with the government agencies say it is third party interference.
To address these issues, Mulade called for the relocation of the headquarters of NOSDRA to the oil-producing areas for quick response.
“The NOSDRA Act should be amended to relocate the headquarters to any oil-producing state and they will not need the multinational companies to sponsor them,” he said.
He further disclosed that community members contracted by the companies to clean up oil spill locations were issued permits by NOSDRA even when they were not qualified.
He urged the Presidency to ensure that environmental laws are adhered to by all, and that communities should be dogged, vigilant and bring to book any agency or officer trying to play pranks on them.
When Daily Trust contacted NOSDRA, the spokesman, Austin Udeh, said as regulator of the oil sector, what they are supposed to do is that when such issues are noticed, they should officially write to them for the director general to take appropriate action.
“We have never received such report, if we had, the director general would have dealt with the matter internally but we have never heard of such before. We are hearing it for the first time.” he said.
He, however, urged the centre to put the claim in writing.