Oil-producing communities in Akwa Ibom State devastated by spills have petitioned the national oil regulator, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), seeking for compensation totaling N16.4 billion to lessen the plight of the victims.
Under the aegis of Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Community Development Network (AKIPCON), they sent the petition through their attorney, N.A. Williams and Co, and copied the authorities of Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Company Limited, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited, Cooperate Lands Management and the Village Head, Ikot Ada Udo community.
The communities said the spills occurred due to facility failure in Ibibio I and II oil wells previously belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company, but decried that the Anglo-Dutch oil giants secretly sold the assets to another oil firm when the matter was already in Court.
They lamented about the adverse effects of the spills, gas flare and toxic dumping by ExxonMobil, gas leakage from corked and uncorked wells, which caused them to contact National Human Rights Commission and also filed legal action in Courts in order to obtain compensation on spills, land acquisition to environmental hazards occasioned by oil and gas pollution in the state.
The petition reads in part, ‘’In the case of Ikot Ada Udo, SPDC Ibibio 1 oil spills incidents that occurred in the year 1997, it re-occurred in 1999, 2004 and lasted till 2007 due to Ibibio 1 oil well facility failure. The spills resulted in the discharge of remarkable quantity of crude oil into the majorly rural farmlands and water bodies in Ikot Ada Udo and adjoining villages in Ikpa Nung Asang Clan in Ikot Abasi local government area. The spills drastically affected the ecosystem, wellbeing of the inhabitants and the environment.
‘’Sequel to this unfavorable development, the community Attorney consulted and accredited Estate Surveyors and Valuers who carried out valuation of the damages caused by the said spill and gas emission which is in the sum of N4.1billion only for Ikot Ada Udo. The valuation for villages in Ikpa Nung Asang in Ikot Abasi LGA, Ukpum Minya/IbiaKU Clan in Mkpat Enin LGA and other SPDC’s host communities in Akwa Ibom State is N12.2billion only.
‘’It has come to the knowledge of our client that while waiting for Court of Appeal and National Human Rights Commission’s Special Investigation Panel (SIP) set up in 2016 to investigate oil spills and environmental pollution to conclude all AKIPCON matters before it, including the Ibibio 1 oil spill incident, SPDC surreptitiously sell out Ibibio 1 & II oil and gas wells to your company which has now become part of your OML 13. This is in order for SPDC to avoid payment of compensation to alleviate the long years of sufferings of their host community in Ikot Ada Udo and other affected communities.
‘’It is upon these facts and circumstances that our client has instructed us to raise this representation to you to inform you that since you have bought and fully taken over the aforesaid assets of SPDC (Ibiobio I and II oil and gas wells being part of your OML 13), you should take immediate step to settle the liabilities left behind by paying compensation to the victims of the said oil spill using valuation report already submitted to SPDC within 30 days upon receipt of the letter.’’