The Bayelsa State Government has sounded a warning to oil companies that henceforth it will file serious cases against any company that causes spill to occur in the state.
The Government spoke through the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Kemasuode Wodu, who gave the warning during the inauguration of Bayelsa State Committee on the Domestication of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Wodu said oil spillage in the state had claimed many lives in the state, adding that in Bayelsa’s environment, flora and fauna were being threatened.
The attorney-general stated, ”In the last few weeks, the state government has commenced the initiation of proceedings for the protection of our environment in respect of oil pollution. We have a committee working on it.
”And the first action has been filed where we are claiming N1.6tn against an oil company for remediation of the environment and also paying compensation to those people whose property have been impacted or polluted by the activities of these oil companies.
”A lot more will be filed and as soon as our oil and gas department fully comes on stream. For every spill that occurs in the state, we will file very serious cases against the company because we do believe that that is the only way we can protect the environment.
”People are dying as a result of the activities of these oil companies. In our environment, flora and fauna are seriously threatened in the state. So, these activities must be carried on in accordance with international standards and practices which these companies do not observe here.
”So, we are starting legal challenge of these activities with a view to correcting these anomalies.”
While inauguration the six-man committee headed by Mr. Andrew Arthur, a seasoned lawyer, Wodu said the administration of criminal justice in the country is very important in the state.
He told the committee that the main purpose is to ensure that there is speedy administration of criminal justice, there is fairness and then ”you have to take into consideration our own peculiarities.”
Wodu averred that, ”What applies here may not be exactly be what applies in other states. The Federal Government has set the pace by enacting that Act and a number of states have also followed by adapting it to suit the circumstances of their own peculiarities.
”So, we expect you to take a critical look at the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and also get copies of what few other states have done. There are a lot of recommendations made in respect of the operation of the Act. Look at it and then produce a copy for our consideration, which will eventually be presented to Governor Seriake Dickson for presentation to the House of Assembly.”
Other members of the committee are Mrs Peretimi Peterside; Samuel Brisbie; Somina Johnbull; Amazuo Bereprebofa and A.W. Egi (Secretary).