Oil spill: Bayelsa accuses Aiteo of criminal neglect, disregard for human life

Benedict Peters of Aiteo

The Bayelsa Government has accused Benedict Peters’ Aiteo Group of “criminal neglect of its facilities and disregard for human life and the environment,” following the firm’s failure to stop oil spill at its Nembe field, two weeks after the incident was reported.

Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy Ayibaina Duba made the accusation in a statement issued on Friday in Yenagoa.

Oil has been spilling from a well owned by Aiteo Eastern E&P and state-run NNPC at Santa Barbra Well 1 Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 since November 5.

Mr. Duba stated that Governor Douye Diri was disappointed that the company had not taken any concrete steps to rectify the problem since the equipment failure was reported.

Mr. Diri, the commissioner said, wondered why the massive spill has continued unabated, leading to extensive pollution of the rivers, waterways and farmlands in Nembe Local Government Area.

“The governor is gravely concerned that if the high volume of crude being spilled continuously is not stopped immediately, it will spread to many more communities.

“This will undermine the economic life of residents, who are predominantly farmers and fishermen.

“Diri warned Aiteo not to assume that this criminal neglect of its facilities and disregard for human life and the environment, as demonstrated by its conduct will not be accounted for,” Duba further stated.

He quoted the governor to have also warned the oil firm to be prepared for the consequences of its failure.

According to the statement, the government will not stand by and watch it put human and aquatic lives and the environment in jeopardy.

It urged the residents of Nembe to be law-abiding and remain peaceful, assuring them of government’s commitment to their wellbeing.

Meanwhile, residents of the area have expressed worry over their health as the gaseous discharge had gone unabated for 14 days.