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Groups urge FG to declare Niger Delta ecological emergency zone

 From Blessing Okorite, Port Harcourt
Members of non governmental organisations and civil society groups has called on the federal government of Nigeria to declare Niger Delta region ecological emergency zone, following the level of oil pollution in the area.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at a one day Strategic Meeting of Oilwatch Nigeria (OWN) held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State by the coalition which include, Citizens Trust (CT), CMAP, Environmental Rights Action(ERA), FishNet Alliance Okrika Water front, Peace Point Development Foundation (PPDF), Policy Alert (PA), Lekeh Development Foundation (LEDEF), Social Action, Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform and Pius Dukor Foundation.
Other members of the coalition are Ogoni Ecological Defenders , Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI), We the People (WTP), Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Green Alliance Nigeria (GAN) and Peoples Advancement Centre (PAC).
According to the Communiqué signed by Emen Okon, the Coordinator of  Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre on behalf of the coalition, noted the continuous exploration of oil and gas from communities in the Niger Delta without peoples benefit from the exploitation.
The coalition further noted the need for government to show seriousness in the cleanup of polluted communities in the region, which investigation revealed that habitants of the area are suffering in abject poverty and starvation.
“There are continuous oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the Nigeria, most especially in the Niger Delta region where oil has been extracted for over 50 years without any sustainable benefit to communities in the region.
“The negative impact of the oil and gas industry on the people and environment of the Niger Delta region is a life threatening and near extinction experience and thus there is need for urgent attention.
“For over almost 20 years of democratic rule, the hopes and expectations of the Niger Delta region that government will address the human rights and environmental degradations in the area have been dashed. Environmental pollution caused by illegal refining and oil theft is a leading cause of health hazards in communities in the region.
“Due to the destructive impact of oil and gas extraction on the environment and people of the Niger Delta region, the Federal Government should pay more attention to environmental remediation and   livelihood restoration in the area and declare the region an ecological emergency zone.”
Also, the coalition “reject all forms of legislation by the National Assembly that failed to address the historic injustices and human rights violations against the Niger Delta region by the Nigerian State and International Oil companies”.