National Coordinator, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, has charged the Delta State government on the need to follow written and acceptable environmental best practices in preserving the environment and ecosystem from further degradation resulting from crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and oil exploration in the state.
The renowned environmentalist, who is also the Ibe-Sorimowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area, while speaking with newsmen on Friday, March 4, 2022, in Warri emphasized the importance of environmental best practices following the second reading of a bill by the Delta State House of Assembly for the forfeiture of properties confiscated from crude oil theft in the state.
Mulade noted that while it is appropriate and acceptable to confiscate and destroy materials used by crude oil theft vendors and the defiling laws are carried out to offenders, the methods employed by those in authority in the process of identifying and implementing such actions should follow laid down principles and directives of environmental best practices to avoid further degradation of the environment.
Speaking of procedures, he said proper environmental impact assessment by environmental experts with prerequisite knowledge and qualifications need to be carried out to ascertain the best procedures to employ in location identification, method of operations, the specific type of items or materials used for operations, and other principles used by offenders.
Mulade emphasized the importance of following such practical guidelines adding that such procedures are essential in avoiding further degradation of the environment.
Speaking on the use of explosives, spilling of crude oil and burning of confiscated materials by offenders, the environmental expert said it will be totally unfair to the environment and the ecosystem on the part of any individual to explore such methods in this generation when there are more comprehensive and biochemical methods to address such, adding that spilling of seized crude oil on the water, as well as burning of related materials used by offenders within the locations will only further degrade the environment and ecosystem.
He also said that such acts are mundane and are environmental unfriendly as they tend to further degrade the environment which over time has resulted in untold health challenges, destruction of properties, cause poverty and death to individuals, primates, aquatic organisms and others living within the identified locations.
While commending the Delta State government for initiating the bill for a quick passage, he, however, charged the state executive and lawmakers not to use the bill as a witch-hunt to individuals engaging in legal businesses within the identified areas but to be prudent and encompassing in implementation of proceedings as it relates to improving the environment and to preserve the economic stay of the state and federal government.
On complementary laws on oil theft, pipeline vandalism and oil spillage in Nigeria, Mulade said that the Delta State bill will further strengthen earlier Acts enacted by the federal government against oil pipeline vandalism, noting that penalties for those who go against the law are clearly spelt out by the federal government and the intended bill by Delta State, hence Deltans should embrace the initiative.
Mulade pointed out that if a law is passed on the aforementioned and the procedures are followed, oil bunkering will be made unattractive in the state, and owners of properties used for illegal storage of crude oil will have a rethink, which will lead to the restoration and preservation of our environment.
He further charged all stakeholders to follow proceedings as he commended the state assembly and Delta State governor for a well-thought-out bill to improve and restore the environment of the state.
Recall that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had in December 2021, forwarded for legislative backing the bill titled “A Bill for a Law for the Delta State Forfeiture Law and other Matters Connected Therewith’.
The executive bill scaled second reading after a robust debate on its merits by lawmakers at plenary presided over by the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, on Thursday, February 24, 2022.
After an extensive debate on the merits of the bill, which described crude oil theft as one of the many ills of contemporary times in the Niger Delta, members considered it imperative as it will help in addressing the evils inherent in oil pipeline sabotage including insecurity, environmental pollution, loss of lives and properties as well as the decline in the state and national revenues among others.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Oil and Gas for further scrutiny.