The Niger Delta Initiative Austria has asked Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, to go after illegal refinery operators like his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike.
Founder of the group, Nyherovwo Ochuko Eriema, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.
According to him, most riverine communities in Delta State had turned into a haven for oil bunkering activities.
The statement reads, “Bunkery, a method of illegally extracting crude oil from oil pipelines and refining the same in a very uncivilised way, has led to health hazards in Rivers State and elsewhere in the Niger Delta region and has also claimed the lives of an unknown number of people. This unlawful and also barbaric method of refining oil has brought about heavy soot hovering all over the atmosphere and the veneer of almost the entire region of the Niger Delta.
“Soot is a black, carbonaceous essence created during incomplete combustion of coal, wood, oil, etc., rising in fine particles and clinging to the sides of the chimney or pipe conveying the smoke. It is also carried in the atmosphere to other locations and enters the human body by inhalation and ingestion and penetrates the skin and eyes.
“This unwholesome and very poisonous particle cause breathing issues, which form bronchitis, coronary heart disease, cancer, and babes, the aged, and those who already have breathing issues are the most affected. NDIA is also attributing this act of saboteur to the negligence of the federal government of Nigeria towards oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta region, who live in a squalor state despite the abundance of mineral resources in that region.
“Governor Nyesom Wike has shown remarkable courage in tackling this evil menace perpetrated by some unscrupulous elements of society. The damage that soot inflicts on the environment cannot be over- emphasized. Soot is responsible for several environmental problems, such as haze and the acidification of lakes and rivers. Haze also hurt tourism by discouraging potential visitors, which causes economic damage.
“The Niger Delta Initiative Austria on the other hand, is aggravated by the attitude of the Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, that allows perpetrators in the riverine communities in Delta State to operate with utmost impunity.
Riverine communities in Delta State have turned into a haven for bunkery activities and, this can no longer continue unabated. One of the primary responsibilities of every government is to protect the right to clean air and a clean environment, as this is a fundamental human right that is not negotiable.
“The Niger Delta Initiative Austria, thereby call on the Delta State governor to replicate the same motion employed by the Rivers State governor and move swiftly into action by fishing out those involved in the harmful and illegal act of bunkery and subsequent pollution of the environment. NDIA wants to sincerely appeal to the Rivers State number one man to do everything within his powers to bring the perpetrators of these inhumane and vicious acts to justice to serve as an impediment to others who may be contemplating the illicit business.”