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ERA/FoEN Urges National Assembly to Review IOCs Divestment Process in Nigeria

By Obiabin Onukwugha

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has urged the National Assembly to review the divestment process by the international oil companies in Nigeria.

This is as the body also called for a public hearing to address the environmental and human rights concerns raised by host communities over the divestment plans of the international oil companies.

Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Chima Williams made the call during an advocacy visit to the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Kingsley Chinda in Abuja, as part of ERA/FoEN’s efforts to ensure that oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta are not short-changed by divesting IOCs.

Williams explained that the controversy generated by the plans by Eni to sell its Nigerian subsidiary to Oando has exposed how the multinationals mine with reckless abandon and leave the toxic assets for indigenous companies to shoulder their liabilities.

He lamented that the decision of the oil firms to leave the region without remediating oil pollutions on farmlands and water systems, is tantamount to sucking the juice from a fruit and leaving the chaff behind.

“In virtually all the cases where IOC divestment has happened, host communities feel used and dumped hence a legislative intervention has become necessary. A public hearing is one among several approaches to address the new trend of the divestments by the multinationals, as they now see divestment plans as a way of running away from their responsibilities,” the ERA/FoEN boss stated.

The ERA/FoEN revealed that the body has been working with host communities in Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, and Delta among others, articulating the demands of the people in a policy brief, on the way forward in holding the corporations to account.

In his response, Chinda said that the the IOC divestment issue is one that touches the very core of the lives of Niger Delta communities.

He further stated that the National Assembly will be willing to hear from affected communities and that he will continue to promote bills and legislations that uplift the standard of living of Nigerians.

The federal lawmaker also pledged his readiness to continue working with civil society and groups in the Niger Delta to address the plight of host communities and the issues created by oil extraction.

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