Environmentalist slams FG for burning rogue fuel tanker

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, has expressed concern over the manner vessels of stolen crude oil are being destroyed in Nigeria without recourse to the environment and human lives.

Mr Nnimmo Bassey, the Executive Director of HOMEF, in a statement issued in Benin on Saturday by Kome Odhomor, Media/Communication Lead of the foundation, said the action did not conform with international best practices.

“Oil theft in Nigeria is an organised crime and a huge industry with local and international collaborators involved in the illegal deal.

“It has historical roots which has taken different dimensions and is manifesting in several forms, some of which had been covered until recently.

“With the recent destruction of a vessel containing stolen crude oil, it is rather shocking to note that the continuous cry of pollution made by Nigerians has evaded the attention of the leadership of the Joint Task Force, JTF,  of the Nigerian Military and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd,” he said.

Though, the JTF justified the vessel’s destruction as a warning to those involved in oil theft and an attempt to discourage such activities, the HOMEF director noted, however, that the bombing of the vessel merely signalled authorities’ indifference to the safety of the people and the environment.

Many Nigerians were jolted when operatives of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, in collaboration with Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited destroyed an intercepted vessel carrying 800,000 litres stolen crude oil in the Escravos area of Delta State.

The Vessel, MT TURA II (IMO number: 6620462), owned by a Nigerian registered company, HOLAB Maritime Services Limited was reportedly heading to Cameroun with the cargo when it was apprehended at an offshore location with the captain and crew members on board.

The renowned environmentalist drew attention to the already dire conditions in the Niger Delta due to gas flaring, oil spills and other forms of pollution.

The destruction of the seized vessel, he noted, would worsen the environmental degradation.

He called for an urgent investigation into the incident, questioning the motivation behind blowing up a vessel carrying 800,000 barrels of crude oil and causing significant environmental damage.

He said the catastrophic consequences of that act are so huge such that a single drop of crude oil can contaminate 25 litres of water.

“With 800,000 barrels of crude oil spilled, the destruction would devastate fisheries, livelihoods and directly harm people.

“There is a lack of consideration for the constitutional right to a safe environment on the part of our security forces, and we call for improved training regarding environmental and climate crises.

“It is crucial for government agencies to realise the impact that the destruction of rogue vessels has on the marine ecosystem and regional pollution,” Bassey said:

“Safe methods of handling such vessels, including rendering them inoperable, should be adopted.

“Outright destruction of vessels on the high seas is not environmentally acceptable.

“Collaboration between the Joint Task Force and environmental experts, alongside those genuinely concerned about the environment, is necessary to protect lives and livelihoods,” said the HOMEF boss.


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