The Bayelsa State Government on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, constituted a technical committee on the recent oil spill at the OML 29 which polluted the Santa Barbara River wellhead in Nembe Local Government Area of the state.
The facility, operated by Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited, had a blowout of gas and crude oil that lasted about 38 days before it was capped.
Gov. Douye Diri inaugurated the 11-man committee on Wednesday inside the Executive Chamber of Government House, Yenagoa.
The committee is headed by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo (SAN), while his Special Assistant, Tariotu Lugard, will serve as secretary.
The committee has the mandate to work with relevant agencies of the Federal Government and to embark on a joint investigation visit to the affected site towards ascertaining the extent of the damage caused by the incident.
It was also mandated to take action for the commencement of remediation and clean-up of the environment as well as meet with affected communities with a view to providing adequate compensation.
Diri charged the committee to work according to its terms of reference in the interest of people of the state.
He said members were selected based on their pedigree in various fields and should not compromise in their duty to ensure justice for the people and their environment.
The governor restated his call on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other organs of the Federal Government to come to the aid of the victims.
He said it was unfair that lesser disasters in other parts of the country were given prompt attention, but no such concern was shown for victims of the Nembe spillage in spite of the magnitude of the damage.
According to the governor, the only succour for the affected communities were the relief materials sent by the state government and the Nembe council.
“I have carefully selected you and I know the pedigree of each and everyone of you in this committee. There is no room for compromise and the only interest is that of the people and the government of Bayelsa.
“I am sure you will do everything according to your terms of reference; to bring justice to our people and to ensure that our environment and our ecology will not be tampered with at the whims of anybody no matter how highly place.
“This is the first time in the history of oil and gas exploration in Bayelsa, specifically in Nembe, that oil spilled from the Christmas tree directly and cannot be controlled for more than one month.
“The spill thereby caused untold hardship to our people. It damaged the ecology, the environment, the flora and fauna of our state as well as aquatic life and the livelihood of our people.
“Let me again call on NEMA to do the needful. We have seen situations that were lesser than what we saw in Nembe that it was promptly responded to,” Diri said.
Responding, chairman of the committee thanked the governor for bringing together a crop of technical experts to look into the issue of the spillage.
He promised that members would justify the confidence reposed in them and work to achieve the aim based on the terms of reference.
Other members of the committee are: the Commissioner for Environment, Iselema Gbaranbiri; Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Ebieri Jones; and former Commissioner for Environment, Iniruo Wills.
Also included are the Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Africa, Toru- Orua, Prof. Iwokuma Agbozu; former Director, Centre for Niger Delta Studies, Prof. Solomon Ebobra; Mr Woyingikuro Agada; Mr Enai Reuben; and the Deputy Director, Ministry of Justice, Emmanuel Yibawei.
By Nathan Nwakamma