Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Government has dragged oil companies to court, over what it described as the reckless degradation of the environment in the state.
Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kemasuode Wodu, has filed multiple cases against oil companies operating in the state.
At the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, the state capital, yesterday, three of the suits were slated for hearing but the court presided over by Justice J. Inyang adjourned the matter to February 11; to enable the state government resolve some technical issues.
Wodu, who appeared for the state, accompanied by four other lawyers, said government is determined to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion.
According to him, Bayelsa is only fulfilling its responsibilities by dragging the oil firms to court; following multiple environmental problems arising from their activities in many parts of the state.
He also explained that oil communities report cases of oil spills, daily, which the companies ignore and refuse to accept responsibility by conducting remediation to restore the environment.
The commissioner, who expressed disappointment with the “irresponsible behaviour of oil multinationals” said their activities pose serious health challenges to residents.
He said: “As we know, these spills occur everyday and they don’t even carry out remediation of the environment. They pay no compensation to persons whose property have been damaged by the spills. We know there is rise in cancer and many other health challenges in the state. So, the state government cannot fold its arms.
“We have decided to approach the court, to test the position of the law, with respect to compelling these companies to be alive to their duties and responsibilities. We have to ensure they carry out remediation first. They don’t always do it.
“Most times, they spend one to two months before they visit spill sites. The spilled crude oil would have seeped into the environment, but, we must take action. These are the kind of actions that we have filed. We feel that the state government has the right to enforce observance of rules and regulations in the oil and gas exploitation business.”