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 Clean up Niger Delta before quitting, women group tells Shell

Clean up Niger Delta before quitting, women group tells Shell

The Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre and their allied community-based women’s organisations have expressed dismay at the announcement by Shell to sell off their on-shore assets to investors.

They noted that Shell did not conduct the necessary consultations with communities that have endured decades of environmental destruction from their operations.

In a press statement by Emem Okon of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre and five other partners and made available to PUNCH Online on Sunday in Benin, she said that Shell was attempting to evade responsibility, adding that affected women in the Niger Delta were deeply concerned about the swift nature of these divestment plans.

The statement read, “It has come to our attention that plans are ongoing by Shell Plc to sell their shares in Shell Petroleum Development Company to a consortium of investors, Renaissance Africa Energy. OML 34 had already been divested to ND Western; OML 17 and OML 29 have been divested without proper guidelines.

“Additionally, Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Exxon Mobil Nigeria Limited, and Total Energy Nigeria Limited, are poised to divest all their onshore assets without engaging host communities and rectifying the damages done to the environment and the well-being of peoples. They are attempting to evade responsibility.

“As affected women in the Niger Delta, we are deeply concerned about the swift nature of these divestment plans, as the government has not provided guidelines to ensure the resolution of pollution issues before SPDC, AGIP, and Total Energies depart.

“The corporations involved have failed to establish women development funds to support those who have borne the consequences of their oil extraction activities.

“In the Niger Delta, women bear the brunt of oil exploitation, facing deprivations due to environmental degradation. They play vital roles in securing the family’s subsistence income through agricultural activities, processing farm produce, and engaging in trade.

“The ecological degradation caused by oil extraction forces women to navigate polluted swamps for their economic activities, leading to a decline in crop yields and increased poverty. We, the women, are in the dark regarding the reputations of the new companies acquiring the assets of Shell, AGIP, and Exxon Mobil.

“They implored the government not to approve the divestment plans until polluted farmlands are cleaned up and restored by these companies. They added that gas flares persist in Ebocha, Ibeno, Umuechem, and other areas, with communities like Otuabagi still grappling with the impacts of oil extraction. “Farming, fishing, and hunting have been severely been affected, leading to health problems among women exposed to hydrocarbons.”

It added, “This divestment is not in the interest of the community people, and we condemn the attempt by international oil corporations to shirk responsibility under the guise of selling assets. We call on the President Bola Tinubu to ensure that there is no divestment without ecosystem restoration.

“The government must mandate companies divesting their oil assets to commit to cleaning all polluted sites in the Niger Delta and restoring lost livelihood opportunities. We vehemently reject irresponsible divestment and demand that the Federal Government obtains a court injunction to halt the sale of any assets related to this matter. We are saying no to irresponsible divestment.” (Punch)

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