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Why Criminal flight of Multinational Oil Companies must not be allowed – We the People Speaks

Why Criminal flight of Multinational Oil Companies must not be allowed – We the People Speaks

Executive Director of We the People, Ken Henshaw speaking at the press conference.

By Ekemini Simon

A Non-Governmental Organisation that works for ecological justice in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, We the People, has offered explanation into the motive behind the recent wave of divestment by international oil companies (IOCs) in Nigeria.

It could be recalled that ExxonMobil, Shell, Total Energies and Chevron have recently announced their plans to sell off several of its onshore and shallow water oilfield assets and move into deep water exploration.

The Executive Director of We the People, Ken Henshaw during a press conference on Thursday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital insisted that the oil companies are not divesting in Nigeria, rather they are fleeing accountability and justice in a ploy to operate in the deep waters where their activities will be far off the sight.

Presenting a new report of the organisation titled “Dirty Exit”, Henshaw explained that since several investigations have indicted international oil companies in cases of environmental pollution that have eroded livelihoods, poisoned communities, and created conditions for human rights abuses that have resulted in displacements, incarceration and deaths, victims recently have started getting judgment against the IOCs in their home countries.

He noted that since the Niger Delta having finally gotten the opportunity to hold oil companies accountable for decades of destruction, the IOCs are enveloped in serious anxiety.

Henshaw pointed out that the mounting demand for justice by communities that have suffered years of impact of oil exploration is what is actually driving international oil companies to divest. 

The Executive Director added “In the thinking of these oil companies, selling off their assets will technically pass the buck of responsibility for fixing their mess to Nigerian firms who are ignorantly buying them.

“For occupied communities who have lost everything to oil extraction in the last six decades, what oil companies are doing is not divestment, but criminal flight, attempting to abdicate responsibility for several years of poisoning the environment and people of the Niger Delta.They must never be allowed to simply run off.”

The organisation called  on the federal government to immediately compel the multinational oil  companies to put on hold their divestment plans pending the ascertaining of issues of community concern.

Henshaw asked the federal government to immediately produce a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from the areas where they have operated. 

He recommended that the guide should be developed by a multi-stakeholder group including communities and civil society organisations.

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 The organisation demanded that the divestment framework must contain the following requirement for oil companies;

“A scientifically developed post-hydrocarbon impact assessment report that establishes the exact ecological and livelihood impacts of oil extraction.

“A health audit of people located in close proximity to extraction sites, and others exposed to oil contamination and gas flaring. This audit will aim at unravelling the negative health impacts of exposure to hydrocarbons.

“A detailed plan and costing for remediating the ecological,livelihood and health impacts of extraction.

“The establishment of independent frameworks for remediating all identified impacts.”

Henshaw also revealed the plan of the We the People to institute legal action against the oil companies and the Federal Government in a situation where the demands were not addressed.

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