Regent of Ekpeye Kingdom in Rivers State, Eze Felix Otuwarikpo,(2nd left) among a cross section of Speakers at opening ceremony of Correspondents’ Chapel,of NUJ Week in Port Harcourt
… Challenges Journalists to come on facility tours to investigate illegal bunkering
… Environmental Rights activist urges media to hold govt, oil companies accountable for pollution
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
A monarch and also Regent of Ekpeye Kingdom in Rivers State, Eze Felix Otuwarikpo, has openly accused the security agencies of aiding and abetting the pollution of the environment in his kingdom.
Ekpeye kingdom which is made up of Ahoada-East and Ahoada-West local government suffers serious environmental hazards from pollution caused by the illegal oil bunkering and flooding.
The Monarch spoke on Monday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, during the opening ceremony of 2019 Correspondents’ Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State, with theme: “Role of the Media in Protecting the Rivers Environment”.
The Monarch who also spoke on exclusively to our correspondent on the sidelines of the programme alleged that the security agencies who are supposed chase out criminals involved in illegal oil bunkering are regrettably aiding abetting the criminals for monetary gains.
According to Otuwarikpo, journalists need to investigate the role of security operatives in illegal oil bunkering activities in the state that have contributed immensely to the destruction of the environment.
The monarch said: “May I use this opportunity to request members of the Correspondents’ Chapel to visit Ahoada-East and Ahoada-West local government areas.
“I am inviting you because sometime in June this year, we held a traditional amnesty programme where 334 cultists and militants surrendered and we received their weapons from them. These weapons were handed over to government.
“Today, as a traditional ruler, I feel very sad because security agents that have the responsibility to help us to check these criminals are the ones encouraging criminality in our area. I want it to be on record.
“When we disarmed these boys, Ekpeyeland became the most peaceful ethnic nationality in the state and in fact in Nigeria. Today, security agents are the ones encouraging these boys to carry out bunkering in our area.
“You will agree with me that anywhere you allow bunkering to go on for at least 24 hours, there will be proliferation of small arms in the area.”
The Monarch who also a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, threatened that he may be forced to mobilize his subjects against the illegal oil thieves, their sponsors and some compromised security personnel if identified illegal oil bunkering sites in his kingdom are not closed after the security meeting that he scheduled to summon soonest in his kingdom.
Also ,an Ogoni Environmental Rights Activist, Celestine Akpobari, in his keynote address challenged journalists practising in the Niger Delta region, to devote quality time to reporting on the issues affecting the environment in the region because the fallout of polluted environment affect all, including the journalists.
In his keynote speech, an environmental right activist, Celestine Akpobari, urged the media to mount pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill his promise of ending gas flaring in the country by the year 2020.
Akpobari said: “According to the Environmental Icon Rev Nnimmo Bassey, ..judging by what we saw in Bauchi few weeks ago where gas flaring started even before oil production, gas must have been first flared in 1956 at Oloibiri when oil was discovered in commercial quantity.
“About 8 billion cubic meters of gas is flared annually in Nigeria which is 75% of gas production and when calculated in monetary terms, the country looses about 2.5 billion United states Dollars.
“In 2005, a Federal High Court sitting in Benin declared gas flaring illegal in a case between Mr Jonah Gbemre of Iwherekan community, Delta State and Shell, till date, that judgment has not been reversed.
“Between 7th to 18th of November 2016 during the COP 22 at Marrakech, Norocco, President Mohammad Buhari promised that Nigeria will strive to end gas flaring in the country by 2020. That magic year is just by the corner and I will like the media to lead in this campaign to end continous cooking of the atmosphere and thereby destroying the environment God gave man to dress.”
The environmental right activist stated that the environment in Rivers State has been under serious threat since the 1950s when oil and gas exploration activities commenced in commercial quantity in the state.