House of Representatives yesterday said it would setup an ad-hoc committee to probe activities of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta over the destruction of equipment seized from illegal refineries.
The House also mandated the committee (when constituted) to investigate the activities of Nigerian Agip Oil Company with a view to ensuring improvement of its facilities and forestall further incident.
The committee will also determine the circumstance which led to the death of 14 people in Azuzuama community of Bayelsa State.
In a motion entitled “Urgent Need to Bring an End to the Despoliation of the Niger Delta Environment through the Burning of Equipment Confiscated from Illegal Operators of Refineries” was sponsored by Hon. Douye Diri, Hon, Leo Ogor and 12 other lawmakers.
In their submissions, they argued that the JTF was setup in 2004 to protect pipelines, prevent the operation of illegal refineries and generally maintain law and order in the Niger Delta.
The lawmakers said that the communities in the area had suffered from effects of burning and destruction of oil tools and equipment seized from operators of illegal oil refineries.
They lamented that it had greatly polluted the environment, stressing that it was a sharp violation of internationally accepted best practises.
The lawmakers further observed that the fire outbreak in Azuzuama community in Bayelsa State on July 9, 2015 was as a result of the use of dilapidated infrastructure and equipment by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, an incident which led to the death of 14 persons.
After the motion had been unanimously adopted by the House, the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dohara, tasked the committee to determine steps taken by the JTF in conjunction with other relevant agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency, NOSDRA, to forestall further degradation of the region.
Reps commend Buhari on Ogoni clean-up
Also yesterday, the Lower House commended President Muhammadu Buhari for fast-tracking the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP report of Ogoniland in Rivers state.
The report is aimed at sanitising the much-polluted environment in Ogoni land.
The resolution followed a point of order raised on the floor of the House by Hon. Kingsley Chinda and 58 other lawmakers.
In his lead debate, Chinda noted that the environmental degradation of Ogoni land due to the mining of crude oil had brought untold hardship to the people.
He said that the implementation of the UNEP report should be done on the grounds that the constitution of Nigeria in Section 20 stipulates that “the state shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria of which the Niger Delta is inclusive.”
The lawmaker also expressed worry that the Hydro Carbons Pollution Restoration Project, HYPREP was placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, describing it as the major polluter of the area.
According to him, “The Ogoni people and indeed the entire Niger Delta has continued to drink contaminated water and sea food is being scourged from the polluted water and the people still process their foods in crude coated creeks.
“This House should support the motion, so that Nigeria will join the comity of nations pro-active to environment hazards”.
Chinda also urged the House to fully cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari who had approved $2 billion in the implementation of the UNEP report.
The lawmaker said there was need to protect the environment not just in Nigeria, but also the entire world.
The House also resolved to commission an environmental audit of the entire Niger Delta Region as well as Order Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC to urgently carry out a joint environmental pollution audit of their areas of operation and come forward with an interim report within 30 days.

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