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Fear of exposing expatriates to pollution hazards behind non-relocation of IOCs— Reports

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A report released by the Business Hilights Economic Research Team (BHERT) on Monday in Port Harcourt after one week of intelligence gathering on why International Oil Companies (IOCs) in oil communities have shown that the reason behind the rejection of the presidential order is to avoid exposing its expatriates to the hazards of environmental pollution.

BH had few days after observing that the Oder handed down to IOCs by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo was not followed dispatched BHERT to gather intelligence on why the order was flouted.

The report said “Apart from the fact that the presidential order lacked legal backing, the core reason behind the rejection by IOCs was being afraid of exposing its expatriates to the hazards of environmental pollution”.

“Unfortunately, these hazards expatriates feared are what host communities had been suffering for years without requisite antidote from either the government or the IOCs who are perpetuating the problem.

The BH report was on Monday, corroborated by a Communiqué issued by Core Communities’ Paramount Rulers’ Forum in Niger Delta (CCPRF), saying “ExxonMobil just like many of them has always cited insecurity in the region as excuse for not complying with Presidential directive to relocate its headquarters to the state’.

The communiqué issued in Abuja read in parts: “After the meeting of the above-named groups, where deep retrospection was given to the litany of excuses given by ExxonMobil for its barefaced refusal to relocate its operational headquarters from Lagos to Akwa Ibom State, we are compelled to state as follows:

“That the company has always claimed that it was not feasible to relocate at various times in the past because of a number of reasons, including insecurity but the community feels that the American oil giant is simply scared of its shadow;

“That we have it on good authority ExxonMobil is deeply worried about exposing its expatriate and other senior workers to the hazards of the environmental pollution and devastation they have caused through long years of negligent operation;

“That they have refused to move because they know the level of destruction their operations have brought to the land and people of Akwa Ibom State and so they believe the environment is unsafe, health-wise for their senior staff considering the frequency of early deaths and reduced life span of the inhabitants of the area,” the communiqué stated.

Additional details from the BH report noted that “to effectively create an enabling law that will compel IOCs to relocate, the remaining segments of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) must contain a clause that will compel them to site or move their head offices to oil communities and places of key operations”.