The House of Representatives, Committee on Environment and Habitat on Thursday summoned the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), to appear before it over the spillage in Ikara Community of Edo.
It said that failure of the NPDC management to appear would attract a bench warrant.
The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Obinna Chidoka, made this threat at a public hearing in Abuja.
Chidoka said that the matter was referred to his committee by the public petition committee for proper consideration.
During the hearing, NPDC was not present to respond to allegations levelled against it by the Ikara community, that said their area remained polluted and degraded due to the spillage.
The Chairman of Ikara Community Trust, Mr Lawrence Wilbert said that as a result of the oil spillage, no more fishing could be carried out in the river.
He said that the people have been forced to leave and not return to their traditional occupation of fishing and farming.
The Committee, therefore, resolved to adjourn the hearing and summoned the NPDC to appear in the next hearing.
Wilbert, in an interview with journalists after the public hearing, said “We are here with the matter regarding oil spillage, which is in our community by asset owned and managed by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
“We have taken it up, we have appeared before the National Assembly, the house where we are taking them to the public petitions committee.
“It’s now been passed on to the environment committee to evaluate the cost and compensation that my community is due for, and for the NPDC to be made to clean up the environment that’s why we are here today.
“In summary, what we are trying to avoid is a situation where we have another Ogoni brewing in Edo.
“If you come to Ikara community you will find out that all our water ways, our lands, the bushes are already been destroyed, we are trying to make sure that we avoid this by bringing this to everyone’s attention.
“Ogoni did not just happen over night, it took years of constant spillage of crude oil and negligence by authorities and the companies that were making this happen.”
Wilbert, while responding to an estimate the community deserved, said that it required the help of professionals to evaluate the damage to the environment which had been done.
According to him, I don’t have an estimate of how much compensation my community deserves, but what we have done is that we took an expert to evaluate the damage to our environment and the work has been done.
“The professional have looked at the damage and said that the compensation to the community was to the tune of N11.739 billion; now it is entirely up to NPDC, who are the culprit here, to come and do their own evaluation or challenge our evaluation if it is wrong and do the right thing,” he said.
Wilbert, therefore, commended the committee investigating the matter for making best decision considering the situation at hand.
“The honorable members of the house are representatives of Nigerians, and they have made the best decision considering the situation at hand.
“NPDC is a parasatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria of which I am a citizen and of which Ikara is a part of, they have chosen not to appear before the committee today, I think it is not just negligence but it is rude and a disrespect to the citizens of Nigeria.
“Not just about Ikara community, but the honourable chairman of the committee, has given us a commitment that he will ensure that NPDC is invited on a serious note and that they are here for the next hearing and do hope that they will be here for the next hearing,” he said.