We the People, a non-governmental organisation, has criticised oil firms’ hurry to transfer their onshore oil and gas holdings, calling it a “criminal flight” to abdicate responsibility for several years of polluting the environment and people.
The executive director of the group, Ken Henshaw, alleged during a news conference in Uyo on Thursday while presenting a new study titled “Dirty Exit,” that the oil firms were selling their properties due to mounting fear over demands for justice and accountability.
As a result, he urged the federal government to impose a divestment embargo and create a framework and roadmap for how oil firms disengage from areas where they have worked.
According to him, such a framework should be produced in collaboration with civil societies and host communities and should contain a scientifically developed post-hydrocarbon impact assessment report on the exact ecological and livelihood impacts of oil extraction.
Henshaw added that the framework should also capture the health audit of people located in close proximity to extraction sites as well as others exposed to oil contamination and gas flaring.
He said “For communities in the Niger Delta, there is finally the opportunity to hold oil companies accountable for decades of destruction.
“It is anxiety over these mounting demands for justice that is driving international oil companies to divest. In the thinking of these oil companies, selling off their assets will technically pass the buck of responsibility for fixing their mess to Nigerian firms who are ignorantly buying them.
“For occupied communities who have lost everything to oil extraction in the last 6 decades, what oil companies are doing is not divestment, but criminal flight, attempting to abdicate responsibility for several years of poisoning the environment and people of the Niger Delta. They must never be allowed to simply run off.
“The federal government needs to immediately produce a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated. This guide should be developed by a multi stakeholder group including communities and civil society organisations.”
“The federal government should immediately place a moratorium on all oil company divestment in the Niger Delta, pending the ascertaining of issues of community concern.”
He disclosed that his organisation is ready to institute a legal action against the Oil companies and the FG in a situation where the issues were not addressed.
Responding, the manager, public affairs, ExxonMobil, Lagos, Ugochukwu Udeagha, said what the people need to understand is that it is not an “asset sale” but ‘share sale.’
He said that the ” Shareholders of MPN are selling their shares, so it is not divestment, that is what people need to understand” this was stated clearly in the press release that was issued during the signing of the share purchase agreement”
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