The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, set up a four-man committee to investigate the face-off between Akoka Community of Lagos and Total Exploration and Production Company Ltd over the allegation of a spill of oil in the community.
Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Hon Jerry Alagboso, announced this in response to the petition initiated by representatives of Akoka Community of Lagos State led by Engr Akintunde Ogunfemi.In his presentation, Engr Ogunfemi informed the committee that there was a spillage by the Total E$P Nigeria Limited facility in the Akoka area of Lagos arising from oil leakages.
He further said that the recurring oil spill which lasted for about five years had resulted in the poisoning of the water, and other means of survival of the people of the area.
The community also demanded for appropriate sanctions should be meted out to the company by the relevant authorities of the state for the damages caused by it.
On his part, Total’s Legal Adviser, Mr Mark Maner, explained that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had issued a clean bill of health to the company adding that the Agency also recommended that a re-certification of the oil testing facility should be done after two years.According to him, the company had done an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the facility in agreement with the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).In his intervention, a member of the committee Hon Ademorin Kuye who demanded that justice for the people of Akoka, alleged that profiteers had turned the area into an abandoned zone.
In his ruling, Hon Alagbaso disclosed that the four-man committee to be headed by Hon. Ferdinand Nwankwo will embark on a tour of the affected area.While speaking with newsmen, Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, Akinbode Oluwafemi who applauded the House intervention said: “We believe this hearing today by the House Committee on Public Petitions is a good start in the quest of the impacted people of Akoka in Lagos for justice.“It is unfortunate that the community people have been put through the needless trauma of coming all the way from Lagos to Abuja to again show what Total did to their drinking water and environment.
“One thing is certain: Total may delay or rigmarole but it cannot hide or dodge responsibility for the environmental harm inflicted on the innocent community people. The onus is now on our honourable lawmakers. Total must own up and pay up.”