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Coalition of CSOs Protest Against IOCs’ Divestment in Niger Delta 

“We cannot allow a transnational corporation to profit at the expense of our people and then absolve itself of the monumental

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), community groups, and individuals on Friday protested against the planned divestment of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta.

The coalition insisted that before the IOCs’ divestment, the government should ensure a proper audit is conducted on the environment, health, livelihood, and ensure a total remediation of the area.

Led by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), the protesters walked from the UTC junction and proceeded to the Government House, Port Harcourt, where they pleaded to the state government to appeal to the federal government to stop the divestment moves.

During the rally, the protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as “No restoration, no remediation,” “Save the Niger Delta, restore our livelihoods,” and “Shell is going nowhere until they restore our original enqvironment.”

Programme Manager of Social Action Nigeria, Dr Prince Edegbuo who expressed the collective sentiment of the coalition, said, “The legacy of environmental devastation and social injustice that Shell Petroleum Development Company leaves behind is unacceptable”. 

Edegbuo said “We cannot allow a transnational corporation to profit at the expense of our people and then absolve itself of the monumental pollution it has caused.”

The march underscored the severe environmental and health crises plaguing the Niger Delta as a result of decades of oil and gas operations. 

Dr. Edegbuo continued, “The Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission’s findings confirm our worst fears. Our waters, soil, and air are saturated with toxins, making the Niger Delta one of the most polluted places on earth.”

Addressing the protesters at the government house, Michael Gberale lamented the activities of Shell and IOCs in Ogoniland for 60 years, which he said have not only depleted the environment but also eroded the livelihoods of the people and resulted in the loss of many lives.

Similarly, a native of Rumuekpe community, one of the host oil communities in the state, Avadi Chimankpa highlighted the dire consequences of oil pollution in his community, emphasising the need for accountability and commitment to remediation before any discussion of divestment.

On her part, a woman leader from Krokrotai, Zinabari Mgba, lamented the health impacts of oil pollution in the community, stressing that children are frequently sick, “husbands are unable to fulfill their responsibilities, and crops yield poorly”.

The protesters emphasised that the divestment threatens to exacerbate social injustices in the region, lacking transparency and failing to ensure community voices are heard or demands for justice and compensation are met.

They urged that President Bola Tinubu’s government should intervene in their plight, calling for an immediate halt to the divestment process until comprehensive reviews are conducted, ensuring Shell’s accountability for environmental restoration and community compensation. 

They also called for an enhanced regulatory oversight, meaningful community engagement, and a thorough assessment of the new operators’ capabilities.

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

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