Warri: The National Coordinator, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, Chief Comrade Mulade Sheriff, has charged the Delta State government on the need to follow written and acceptable environmental best practices in preserving the environment and ecosystem from further degradation resulting from crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and oil exploration in Delta State.
The renowned environmentalist, who is also the Ibe-Sorimowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West LGA, in Delta state, made the call in Warri and emphasized on the importance of environmental best practices while speaking with newsmen on Friday, March 04, 2022, following the second reading of a bill by the Delta State House of Assembly for the forfeiture of properties confiscated from crude oil theft in the State. Chief Mulade said, while it is appropriate and acceptable to confiscate and destroy materials used by crude oil theft vendors and the defiling laws are carried out to offenders, the methods employed by those in authority in the process of identifying and implementing such actions should follow laid down principles and directives of environmental best practices to avoid further degradation of the environment. Speaking of procedures, he said proper environmental impact assessment by environmental experts with prerequisite knowledge and qualifications need to be carried out to ascertain the best procedures to employ in location identification, method of operations, specific type of items or materials used for operations, and other principles used by offenders. Comrade Sheriff further buttresses on the importance of following such practical guidelines and that such procedures are essential in avoiding further degradation of the environment. Speaking on the use of explosives, spilling of crude oil and burning of confiscated materials by offenders, the environmental expert said it will be totally unfair to the environment and the ecosystem on the part of any individual to explore such methods in this generation when there are more comprehensive and biochemical methods to address such, adding that spilling of seized crude oil on the water, as well as burning of related materials used by offenders within the locations will only further degrade the environment and ecosystem. The environmental expert also said that such acts are mundane and are environmental unfriendly as they tend to further degrade the environment which overtime has resulted to untold health challenges, destruction of properties, cause poverty and death to individuals, primate, aquatic organisms and others living within the identified locations. While commending the Delta State government for initiating the bill for a quick passage, he however charged the state executive and lawmakers not to use the bill as a witch-hunt to individuals engaging in legal businesses within the identified areas but to be prudent and encompassing in implemention of proceedings as it relates to improving the environment and to preserve the economic stay of the state and federal government. Recall that the executive bill scaled the second reading after a robust debate on its merits by lawmakers at plenary, presided over by Rt Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, on Thursday February 24, 2022, which was forwarded to the state legislature last year by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State. The bill is for a law to provide for forfeiture of property used for illegal storage of crude oil and other matters connected therewith. After an extensive debate on the merits of the bill, which described crude oil theft as one of the many ills of the contemporary times in the Niger Delta, has become imperative as it will help in addressing the evils inherent in it, including insecurity, environmental pollution, loss of lives and properties as well as the decline in the state and national revenues among others, was forwarded to the House Committee on Oil and Gas for further deliberations. On complementary laws on oil theft, pipeline vandalism and oil spillage in Nigeria, Chief Mulade said that the Delta State bill will further strengthen earlier Acts enacted by the federal government against oil pipeline vandalism, noting that penalties for those who go against the law are clearly spelt out by the federal government and the intended bill by Delta State, hence Deltans should embrace the initiative. Chief Mulade pointed out that if a law is passed on the aforementioned and the procedures are followed, oil bunkering will be made unattractive in the state, and owners of properties used for illegal storage of crude oil will have a rethink, which will lead to the restoration and preservation of our environment. Chief Mulade further charged all stakeholders to follow proceedings as he commended the state assembly and Delta State governor for a well thought-out bill to improve and restore the environment of the State.