By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – Members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, mandated the management of ExxonMobil to pay compensation to the people of Inueyet Ikot, Iwokpom and Ndito Ekaiba communities of Akwa Ibom State whose farmlands and aquatic lives had been destroyed by the oil exploration activities of their company.
The House also mandated the Chairman/ Managing Directors of the company to appear before its Committee on Environment to brief the members on the steps taken to clean up oil spillages in the communities.
The lawmakers also directed the multi-national company to provide relief materials to the affected communities and henceforth, adopt international best practices in its operations to checkmate incessant oil spillages.
The directives followed a motion entitled Urgent need for ExxonMobil to clean up oil spillage in some communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of Eket Federal Constituency to avert further crisis between the company and the host communities, sponsored by Owoidighe Ekpoattai at plenary.
Moving the motion earlier, Ekpoattai said: “Major oil spills believed to have emanated from ExxonMobil’s facility in Iwokpom have washed away farmlands, destroyed aquatic lives and disrupted other maritime activities.”
According to her, it was disturbing that “When contacted by the affected communities, officials from the company’s Public Affairs Department denied that the spills were from the company’s facility even when they are the only company involved in oil exploration in the area.”
She regretted that “ExxonMobil’s refusal to visit the source of the spill and the affected communities, though officials of the regulatory agencies such as NOSDRA, Ministry of Environment, Transport and Petroleum Resources had confirmed the spillage and visited the affected communities portrays the company as highhanded and insensitive to the plight of the host communities.”
The matter, when subjected to voice vote by the Presiding Officer, Mr. Yusuf Lasun, got the support of the lawmakers.
ExxonMobil is a major international oil company in Nigeria that engages in oil explorations in Akwa Ibom State from its Qua Iboe Terminal facility located in Ibeno Local Government Ara of the state.