By Ekemini Simon
Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has raised alarm over the failure of oil companies and relevant authorities to clean up oil spills that months ago ravaged Aleto and Eteo communities in Eleme Local Government of Rivers State.
In June 2023, two oil spills ravaged Aleto and Eteo communities crippling farming and fishing activities in the area.
Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) together with other members of Oilwatch Nigeria paid visits to the two scenes on Wednesday 23 August 2023 for an on-the-spot assessment to ascertain the level of response and possible cleanup of the affected environment but said they met the environment still in a sorry situation.
In a press release made available to newsmen, HOMEF said while some amount of work was ongoing at Aleto, no response was in sight for the Eteo community.
The organisation noted that the Eteo community complained that no Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) has been done by the polluting company, NPDC, to ascertain the cause and extent of damage done to the environment.
HOMEF reports that at Aleto where a JIV was carried out, community people are worried that the report is yet to be released.
The Executive Director of HOMEF Nnimmo Bassey, when speaking on-site,
expressed displeasure that the oil companies are neither decommissioning
their aged infrastructure nor ensuring that their facilities are in good
working conditions. He regretted that rather than remediating the harm
caused by their activities, more investments are being made by the oil
companies to expand the areas of threat.
Bassey further stated that it is regrettable that two months after the
spill occurred, the companies have yet to respond and interface with the
communities in any meaningful way. “It was heartbreaking listening to
the lamentation of the community women who now have no source of potable
water and cannot process their cassava, a major staple due to the
pollution of their stream. The insensitivity of the polluters and
regulatory agencies is appalling. These atrocious incidents are also
compounding the work of HYPREP. While the agency is working to clean
in some areas, these polluting incidents are threatening to erase their
During the site visits, coordinator, Peoples Advancement Centre (PAC),
and member Oilwatch Nigeria Celestine Akpobari, called on NOSDRA and
other relevant agencies of government to do the needful and send relief
materials to the starving people immediately. “It is sad and very
embarrassing that a spill of the magnitude at Eteo would happen in very
close proximity to human habitation and NPDC and the government of
Nigeria carry on as if nothing has happened to the people. It is worse
that the spill has affected the community’s only source of drinking
water. It is not enough to just sneak in at night to cap clamp the
pipe, the right thing must be done.”
While receiving the team of CSOs who visited his palace, His Royal
Highness Emere Emmanuel T. Akobe the Paramount ruler of Eteo community
expressed shock over the attitude of the NPDC saying, “Our beautiful
stream is dead, My people don’t deserve this type of treatment and after
we have brought the notice of the National Assembly, there is still no
response from them, and my people continue to suffer the impact of the
Community youth, Gift Nwagbalor, who was directly affected, lamented
that the community had made several attempts to get the attention of
NOSDRA to the spill site with a series of letters written demanding for
the JIV to be done. Sadly, no response from the regulatory agency. “Our
women can no longer get the periwinkles that they used to pick for their
businesses again and the youths cannot fish in the contaminated stream
A visit to the spill site confirmed his dark summation. While wading through the polluted stream and examining highly contaminated ponds in
the vicinity, community leaders, mentioned that NPDC clamped the leaking
pipe at night soon after the spill was reported but has not returned to
clean up the environment.
HOMEF reiterated that Aleto and Eteo communities and the entire Niger Delta must not be treated like disposable or sacrifice zones for
profit-seeking endeavors. NOSDRA should be more proactive in meeting the
challenging situations of oil spills in the region, while the polluting
companies should urgently halt their polluting activities, clean up
their spills, and pay compensation to affected individuals and
communities. The CSOs also demanded that oil companies decommission all
aged pipelines and facilities in the region in line with UNEP
recommendations in the assessment of the Ogoni environment.