The Communications Officer, Okomu Oil Company, Mr Fidelis Olise, says the firm is“Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified, and must be concerned about environmental issues.
Olise spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday, following reports on the level of illegal oil bunkering in the creeks around the Benin and Okomu Rivers.
These are both located in Ovia South West Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo.A Federal Controller in the Ministry of Environment, Mrs Victoria Ikhianosime, had earlier visited the area and described the illegal oil bunkering within the creeks around the rivers as worrisome.
She had described the illegal activities and pollution as a threat to the immediate environment, communities, and the nearby Okomu Oil Palm Company .
Ikhianosime and other officials of her ministry had paid an on-the-spot assessment visit to see the extent of environmental pollution in the area.
Shel had said :“We will fix a date to meet with the communities around this area and the management of the palm oil company for dialogue.
“The meeting will be to educate everyone on the danger of scooping and trading in Illegally refined petroleum products in this environment.
”Commenting on the situation, Olise said that the implication of being RSPO certified is that the company is duty bound to look after the environment.
“If we see anything that threatens the environment, we are to show adequate concern about it.
“The activities of those illegal bunkerers scooping petrol, diesel and kerosene around our rivers bordering our plantation is certainly a threat, just like the environmental officials rightly said; it could result in fire outbreak.
“The country has had situations in the past where fire was started by petroleum products and a lot of people got burnt alive.
“So, in that perspective, it is a threat not only to the people doing it but also the people in our plantation, the plantation itself and the communities around us.
”Olise also cited the adverse effect the resultant pollution had on the aquatic animals.
“The people around our plantation’s only means of livelihood is fishing, and with the scooping of diesel and petrol pouring into the river, certainly it is going to kill all the fish around there.
“So, over time, there is going to be an adverse effect on the livelihoods of those people because there will be no fish for them to catch from the river.
“In fact, I believe this is already happening and that is why the people have been falsely accusing our company of polluting the water.
“We are very conscious of our agricultural activities and are legally obliged by law to monitor all our water bodies.
“Monthly and quarterly monitoring tests are lodged with the Federal and State Ministries of Environment who monitor our activities with regard to our activities and their effects on the river environment,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria learnt that, over time, concerned members of the communities around the river had cried out for help over the pollution of the rivers.
This had prompted the visit of officials from the ministry of environment.
The communities mostly affected by the pollution include Agbado, Eweke, Okomu, Makioolo and Marioghionba, all in Ovia South West LGA, in Edo.(