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We can only allow Shell to explore oil after successful completion of cleanup—Ogonis

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As claims and counter claims on the whether there is really oil spills cleanup going on in Ogoniland between locals, Rivers State government and international observers on one side and the federal government on the other rages, concerned Ogoniland indigenes have made it clear that Shell or any other company can only resume oil activities in the land pending when the cleanup is logically completed.

In an interview with an indigene in Lagos, he said “The so called ongoing cleanup of decades of spills in Ogoniland must be completed and fresh exploration environmental standards handed down to Shell or any interested party, it will not easy for return of oil activities”.

The citizen who pleaded anonymity averred that “We have lost a lot to oil exploration in Ogoniland without any good story to show for it. We cannot allow the return of era of exploration impunity again, no matter whatever manner Shell wishes to convince the government or a segment of our community to allow them in before the logical conclusion of the cleanup even if it takes 100 years.

“Come to our community and see things yourself; we don’t have fishing rivers again, no good water to drink, no meaningful amenity and nothing just to show we are watching the government and keeping vigil on Shell this time around.

Only recently, Amnesty International (AI) in its report indicted Shell and Eni of always watering down their spills reports with the aim of clouding off chances of matching amount of compensation to victims in the areas of their operations.

The stance of the indigene tallies with the official position of the Movement for Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) on the return of oil exploration in the land.

MOSOP President, Chief Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, has insisted that crude oil production will not be allowed in Ogoni land until the Federal Government and the oil companies carry out the necessary clean up in the communities polluted by massive oil spills.

Former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, said that any resumption of oil production activities without credible cleanup of the polluted environment would be tantamount to profound insensitivity to the plight of Ogoni people.

Mitee stated that while Ogoni people are still battling with the non-implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, they are now being confronted with plots by the Federal Government to resume oil exploitation in Ogoni through some firms of doubtful pedigree and credibility without the needed painstaking engagement with the long-suffering Ogoni people.

However, the SPDC’s image maker, Mr. Igo Weli had chided the AI report saying, Shell had been making public via its online timely reportage of every spill in contrast to the report of the AI.

The SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, Weli, said that the company regularly tests emergency spill response procedures and capability to ensure staff and contractors can respond rapidly to an incident.

However, he noted that response to spills; cleanup and remediation depend on access to the spill site and ultimately on the security of personnel and equipment while work is ongoing.

Continuing, he argued that “The transparency in the online reporting of spill incidents by SPDC in its areas of since 2011, which Amnesty International itself acknowledged, demonstrates its commitment to creating awareness and enhancing collaboration with key stakeholders on oil spill response and cleanup processes and deepening understanding of the complex and challenging operating environment. “SPDC reiterates its commitment to carrying out operations in line with best practice in a responsible and environment-friendly manner”.

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