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House Committee summons oil giants over Nigerian environmental crisis

35 Oil Companies and National Petroleum Chief Called for Questioning on Devastating Environmental Impact

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In a move underscoring growing concerns over environmental degradation in Nigeria’s oil-producing regions, the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives has summoned 35 oil companies, alongside Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL). The summons, delivered by Chairman Pondi Gbabojor during an investigative hearing in Abuja, aims to address the detrimental effects of oil operations on local communities.

Scheduled for Wednesday, May 8, 2024, the summons mandates the attendance of these entities before a joint committee comprising members from Environment, Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Downstream), and Climate Change committees. Gbabojor, emphasizing the gravity of the situation, warned of potential sanctions for non-compliance.

“We will write another letter to everybody,” Gbabojor asserted. “They should turn up to answer questions on issues pertaining to the degradation of the environment due to the activities of oil companies.”

The summoned entities include industry giants such as Chevron Nigeria Limited, Total Energies, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Seplat Energy, Oando Oil Limited, and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited. Additionally, key government agencies, including the Nigeria Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency, and the National Environmental Standards Regulations and Enforcement Agency, have been called for questioning.

Despite the imperative nature of the investigation, only four out of the 35 invited oil companies and agencies attended the initial hearing. Committee members expressed disappointment over their lack of preparedness, noting the absence of crucial documents.

Addressing the issue, Speaker Abbas Tajudeen emphasized the paramount importance of environmental protection. Represented by Deputy Minority Whip George Ozodinobi, Tajudeen highlighted the obligation of public servants to safeguard the environment and address environmental injustices faced by marginalized communities.

“It is therefore, for this reason, that the House mandated the Committees on Environment, Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Downstream), and Climate Change, to investigate the environmental damage in oil-producing communities caused by non-compliance to extant laws by oil producing companies,” Tajudeen stated, stressing the need for equitable development and social responsibility.

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