THE Environmental Rights Action cum Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has alerted Nigerians and the government to the discovery of tons of toxic chemical wastes secretly buried at Koko town, a remote rural village in Warri North Local Government of Delta State by a foreign company.
At a briefing Wednesday, the Executive Director of the organization, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, told newsmen that the residents of the village have confirmed to his organization that the company behind the act is Ebenco Global Link Limited, an Italian waste management and recycling company.
Ojo said this position is being made public now after a confirmatory result of the test on the community’s water sample and extracted soils, by a team of certified laboratory scientific researchers, in collaboration with his company.
Calling on the government to immediately institute a commission of enquiry into the act, Ojo said the waste substance are said to have originated from an international oil company, which is in a Joint Venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
According to him, besides the fact that the act is in total violation of the Sec 20 of the country’s 1999 Constitution, the facts that over a dozen of toxic substances, highly hazardous to human health, were discovered in the waste, investigating the matter and the immediate evacuation of the waste from the village becomes imperative.
ERA/FoEN wants the government to treat the matter with utmost urgency, saying its expected interventions are clearly stated in its four demands:
“That the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) live up to its responsibility of protection of the environment and enforcing compliance with all environmental laws, both in Nigeria, as well international agreements, protocols and treaties on environment to which Nigeria is signatory.
“That the Delta state Ministry of Environment and the Federal Ministry should also step in to collaborate for a proper Commission of Enquiry to unravel the persistence of toxic waste dumping in Koko.
“That Ebenco Global Link be compelled to clean up its mess in Koko and evacuates its hazardous wastes, including those allegedly surreptitiously buried in large quantities. That Ebenco should pay specific penalties and fines as well as compensation to the victims/community people whose land have been contaminated.”
Ojo recalled that similar event had occurred 30 years ago, during the military regime of Major-General Ibrahim Babangida, when In 1987, two Italian businessmen, Gianfranco Raffaelii and Renato Pent, of the Waste Broker Firms and Ecomar and Jelly Wax respectively, had signed an illegal agreement with an unsuspecting Nigerian businessman, Sunday Nana, to use his landed property at Koko Town, for the storage of 18,000 drums of hazardous waste for the approximate payment of $100 per month.
Before the discovery, the people had already being exposed to tits hazards, with many going down with different terminal infections.
“This is not the first time this act is happening,” the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN stressed, explain that “ to refresh our memory, persistent ecological onslaught on the people of the Niger Delta being perpetrated by corporations and their Nigerian collaborators had continued unabated, leading to massive pollution of water bodies and soil contamination.
“Upon discovering, the then military government, headed by Major-General Ibrahim Babangida, waded it and explore all the instruments of international diplomacy to ensure that the hazards were evacuated from the village and taken back to the country of origin,” he added.