New Telegraph

Host Communities: Reps Summon NNPCL, Others Over Environmental Degradation

A joint committee of the House of Representatives Wednesday invited the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mr Mele Kyari over a probe on environmental degradation caused by the activities of oil companies in oil-producing communities in the country.

The summon was handed down by the Chairman of the House Committee on Environment, Hon Pondi Julius Gbabojor, at an investigative hearing on the need to investigate the service and unprecedented environmental damage within the communities on Wednesday.

Kyari is expected to appear on May 8.

Also to appear before the joint committee are the chief executives of some oil companies and relevant government agencies.

The House committees include Environment, Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Downstream) and Climate Change.

Gbabojor said the matter to be addressed was critical as he threatened appropriate sanctions if those invited failed to turn up.

Besides the NNPCL, oil companies summoned include Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Total Energies, Oando Oil Limited, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited Seplat Energy among others.

Also, government agencies summoned include the Nigeria Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency, National Environmental Standards Regulations and Enforcement Agency.

When the probe commenced on Wednesday, only four out of 35 oil companies and agencies invited for the probe showed up.

The National Environmental Standards Regulations and Enforcement Agency, however, sent an excuse through a representative, but the rest did not give any reason for their absence.

The committee members however complained that even the four that turned up submitted the relevant documents just the previous day, not giving the lawmakers enough time to study it for the probe.

“They have to be here on the 8th of May. If anybody fails to show up on, then we will not decide as a committee what to do. I want to believe that there was enough time, two letters were sent, and there was ample time for them to see the letters and duly honour them. But for putting on a human face, we would still give another time to do so,” he said.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, in his opening remarks earlier said it was important to protect the environment.

Represented by the Deputy Minority Whip, George Ozodinobi, he said, “I fully recognise the immense responsibility, which befalls us as public servants to protect and safeguard our environment and meet the challenges posed by the ravages of environmental damages, and the need to balance economic prosperity and social responsibility to ultimately achieve equitable development.

“Also as representatives of the people, we must ensure that the voices of those most affected by environmental damage are heard and respected. We have to listen to the fears that are faced by frontline communities, indigenous people, and marginalized groups who usually bear the brunt of environmental injustice.

“It is therefore, for this reason, that the House mandated the Committees on Environment, Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Downstream), and Climate Change, to investigate the environmental damage in oil-producing communities caused by non-compliance to extant laws by oil producing companies.”

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