The Federal Government through National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, has dragged Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, (Exxonmobil), to the Federal High Court, Uyo, over the oil giants outright breach of Section 6(3) of NOSDRA Establishment Act 2006 which deals with clean up of oil spill.
Mobil is also in a Suit No FHC/UY/CS/1623/2016, summoned before the Court on outright refusal to submit its clean-up plan and remediation report for the NOSDRA (Plaintiff’s) prior approval, which is said to be fragrant contravention of Section 10(1)-(4) and 37(1)- (2) of S.I No 26 of 2011; Oil Spill and Oily Waste Management Regulations, 2011.
The Federal Government has also dragged the oil giant to the Court with a declaration that the oil spill clean-up said to have been purportedly carried out was without due regard to environmental standards contained in Section 6(a) Regulation 25, Oil Spill Recovery, Clean-up, Remediation and Damage Assessment Regulation 2011 amounts to an exercise in futility and nullity carried in contravention of the NOSDRA Regulation.
The Plaintiff (Federal Government) through NOSDRA in the writ of Summons signed by Charles Ataboh has urged the court to among others, make an order or orders; compelling Mobil (Defendant) to pay the cumulative sums of N10,000,000.00 (ten million naira) only, as penalty for contravention of both the NOSDRA Act 2006 and its Regulations; compelling Mobil to collaborate with NOSDRA to commence Damage Assessment within One (1) month of the grant of Orders of the court; and compelling Mobil (Defendant) to forthwith submit its remediation report in line with Section 37 SI. No 26 of 2011, Oil Spill and Oil Waste management Regulations, 2011.
In a 24 paragraph statement of claim brought before the court which a copy was made available to The Sensor, NOSDRA said that Mobil (Plaintiff) has failed to release reports of the over flight conducted by the company despite several request for a copy of it was a deliberate attempt to frustrate of operations of the Joint Investigation Team’s visit to the areas impacted by the oil spill incident which is said to be a “flagrant violation of Section 2 of S.I NO 25 oil spill Recovery, clean-Up, Remediation and Damage Assessment Regulations, 2011.”
It would be recalled that NOSDRA had on June 29, 2014, received a report of an oil spill which occurred at Mobil Qua Iboe Terminal in Ibeno local government area of the State. The oil spill flowed through the drain lines in the Terminal into the Atlantic Ocean. On June 30, 2014, a Preliminary investigation visit was conducted at the spill site by NOSDRA in company of representatives of the community which it was confirmed that oil had spilled from the Mobil facility.
Following the joint investigation carried by the Joint Investigation Visit, the community and the Mobil, it was discovered that estimated volume of 30,260 barrels of oil was spilled into the environment and Mobil admitted receiving 7,000 barrels of oil from the impacted sited.
Mobil was then urged to ensure that clean-up, remediation an assessment of impact of the oil spill is carried in line with the stipulated standards provided by NOSDRA. Aside the clean-up. Mobil was also urged to pay adequate compensation to the affected communities and as well put adequate measures in place to avoid future occurrence of similar incidents.
However, rather than comply with the demands of NOSDRA and other Joint Investigations Visit, JIV, in which it was party to the investigations, Mobil employed several means to thwart the demands.
The oil company went a step further to say that “12 barrels of oil was released from Exoon Mobil’s QIT facility to the environment during the June 2014 oil spill incident.” To worsen the situation, Mobil in a memo MPN- SHE-NOS- DGO- 0814-0061 dated August 4, 2014, referred NOSDRA (Federal Government Agency) and Plaintiff to participate in the clean up exercise that never took place, thus the decision to go to court to seek redress and ensure that justice is not only done but seen done especially in the area o compensation to the affected communities.
With several appeals and reminders on Mobil to react on the alleged refusal and neglect to comply with the demand by NOSDRA, the Agency said it would at the expiration of the time given which it was learnt, was 14 days of receipt of the last letter, it said it would take steps to enforce compliance.
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organization in the state, advocating for the address of injustice meted on the people of the state through the activities of oil companies, has commended the federal government for taking the bold step by dragging Mobil to court to do the right thing by paying compensation to the Akwa Ibom.
The organization, Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Community Development Network, AKIPCON, through the President General, Apostle Dr. Ufot Phenson said that the step would go a long way to address the injustices done to people of the state by the oil giant through oil exploration and exploitation.
He expressed optimism that people of the state would get justice at the end.