GEORGE KINGSLEY PAPAMIE, Ag. Bureau Chief (South-South), Port Harcourt.
A non-governmental organization, known as the Advocacy Centre for Conflict Prevention and Development,has said it has resolved to inform the National Assembly led by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogbara, about the continuous pollution of the Niger Delta environment, especially Rivers State, with suspected Black soot that saturates the ecosystem on daily basis, caused by operators of illegal refineries which pose great danger to the lives of residents in the area.Rising from its emergency meeting in Port Harcourt at the weekend, the Advocacy group in a communiqué signed by the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee led by Martins Wachukwu said the consistent emission of the Black soot is contrary to Principle 3 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Principle 3, according to the group, stipulates that “the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations”.
The group said Rivers people and citizens of Nigeria resident in the state have the right to a healthy environment and the right to peace.
It also said the emission of the Black Soot by illegal refineries in the Niger Delta in particular, is a combination of risk and harm to the environment and the availability of means of preventing or minimizing such risk or certain limits be placed on the emission of Black soot by the National Assembly, adding that, Nigeria as a country would be responsible for any activity that exceeded that limit, and therefore requires that, the National Assembly imposes a prior authorization procedure that will prevent consistent pollution.
It explained that, the emission of the Black Soot is in the category of Ultra-harzadous activities to the extent that, responsibility is engaged for breaches of obligation as specified in the Nigeria’s environmental Laws and Safety regulations, including the test of due diligence is in fact the standard that is accepted generally as the most appropriate one. The National Assembly is therefore expected to take all necessary steps to prevent substantial Pollution and to demonstrate the kind of behavior expected of good government.
The group equally revealed that the Black Soot is an emission of sulphur dioxide Pollution and the destruction of biological diversity, adding that, the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment 1972 emphasized in Principle 8,” that economic and social development is essential for ensuring a favorable living and working environment for man and for creating conditions on earth that are necessary for the improvement of the quality of life.It also raised the issue as to how far one takes into account the legacy for future generations of activities conducted at the present time or currently planned, with due regard to the Public interest.
The Advocacy group further called on the National Assembly to collaborate against illegal refineries of crude Petroleum and other practices that Pollute the air in the Niger Delta as to show the greatest threats to the right to life , and that the Production , testing , possession and deployment, and emission of Black soot emission is recognized as crimes against humanity.
It averred that, as a result of the consequences involved in the emission of the Black soot, the National Assembly should work towards the destruction of all illegal refineries and closure of Condensate that was stolen and sold illegally by Youths in the Niger Delta in the wake to artisan refineries in order to reduce the aggravation of the Black soot into the atmosphere.
The Advocacy group maintained that, it resolved to Petition the National Assembly, because of the fears expressed over serious collaboration between security agencies and those involved in artisan oil refining activities in the Niger Delta, which makes it difficult to clamp down on the perpetrators.
It urged the National Assembly to take urgent steps to conduct an investigation into the prevalent problem of the emission of Black soot in the Niger Delta, especially, in Rivers state and take decisive measures to control the trend before the issue gets out of hand.
The group reminded the National Assembly to ensure the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill into Law in April this year as earlier agreed, adding that, the Bill will lay a stronger foundation of a greater economic template for Nigeria.
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