Agitated by environmental neglect which the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta have to grapple with, a coalition of Ijaw groups have urged the Federal Government to suspend the current bid rounds for marginal oil fields in the region or face legal action.
The coalition, comprising the Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA) and Ijaw Nations Forum (INF) strongly expressed its opposition to the auctioning and exploitation of the resources of the Niger Delta and the continued reckless destruction of the environment and ecosystem without consideration for the people.
The Federal Government, through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), had on June 2 launched the first licensing round for marginal oilfields since 2002/2003.
However, in a statement jointly signed by leaders of the organisations, the coalition said the exercise should be cancelled until the issue of ownership of the natural resources of the region is addressed.
They also said the remediation of the environment of oil-bearing communities, compensation for damages already done to the people and communities and ensuring safety in oil exploitation activities and protection of oil-bearing communities were conditions that must be fulfilled for the process to continue.
The statement reads in part:
‘We hereby give notice that legal actions will commence against the federal government without further notifications if the current bid rounds for marginal fields is not suspended or cancelled forthwith and the issues raised are addressed.
‘We call on all men of goodwill and the international community to prevail on the federal government to address all issues raised herein before proceeding with any process of auctioning the resources of the Niger Delta. This injustice must stop.
‘The people have suffered this great injustice over the years and all efforts to get the oil companies and the Federal Government to rise up to their responsibilities and address this mindless destruction of the environment have failed. It is for these reasons that we call on the Federal Government to suspend or cancel the current bid rounds for marginal fields until steps are taken.’