RIVERS State Governor, Nyesom Wike has announced that the Honourable Attorney General of Rivers State Emmanuel Aguma (SAN) has been directed to sue the Federal Government and International Oil Companies operating in the state over the continued spreading of soot in parts of the state.
“I have directed the Honourable Attorney General to brief an environmental lawyer to sue the Federal Government and the international oil companies over the issue of soot,” Wike told a delegation of the United Nations in Port Harcourt on Wednesday for a high-profile meeting to tackle the soot.
The governor accused the APC Federal Government of deliberate plans to eliminate a greater percentage of the state’s population by her failure to act on the soot and its primary causes.
He called on the United Nations to prevail on the Federal Government to act on the soot saying “Thank God that the United Nations has come in view of the issues we have raised. We thank the United Nations for their concern on the Rivers Environment as it relates to the soot.
“If we must move on, we must situate the cause of the soot and the fact that the Federal Government has decided to make sure that a greater percentage of the state dies.
“The Federal Government wants to eliminate a greater percentage of the state. The problem of soot is not caused by the Rivers State Government. It is caused by Federal Agencies,” Wike stated, stressing that the Federal Government and her agencies are practically damaging the environment by their illegal activities.
His words; “The Rivers State Government do not own companies that refine crude. We have made representations to the Federal Government and her agencies on the issue of soot, to no avail.
“We have called on the security agencies to find more refined ways of destroying the illegal refineries. We have informed the National Council of Environment, the military and all Federal Regulatory Agencies, but they are not interested in intervening “.
The governor said that the refusal of the Federal Government to act on all data supplied on the soot is a deliberate ploy to make Rivers people suffer health hazards which will lead to untimely deaths.
“We want the international community to come to our aid and pressure the Federal Government not to politicise environmental issues. We are ready to work with the international community to address this challenge
“All the Federal Government is doing is to chase shadows, organising people to protest. Until they stop politicizing very serious issues and focus on governance, we will head nowhere,” he said.
He reiterated that the soot is non-discriminatory as it affects everyone irrespective of status and political affiliation adding that the Rivers State Government had taken all necessary steps, and the remaining steps domiciled with the Federal Government.
The Governor said: “The Federal Government is using the soot as a political strategy, not knowing that it will fail woefully.
He wondered why the Federal Government would withdraw $1billion for security challenge and not withdraw the same amount for the environmental challenge in the Niger Delta alleging that the $1billion withdrawn by the Federal Government is mainly for election purposes and not for security
The leader of the United Nations Delegation to Rivers State, Charles Ekong appreciated the steps already taken by the Rivers State Government and said that the mission of the delegation is investigative in nature, so as to determine a lasting solution to the soot challenge in the state.
In his remarks, Assistant Director, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Adebayo Durojaiye said that the United Nations Delegation met with officials of the Rivers State Government on the soot challenge.
He said: “We have met with the Rivers State Commissioner of Environment and Commissioner of Health on the soot challenge.
They have briefed us on the efforts of the Rivers State Government to address the soot and to checkmate this menace “.
The United Nations Delegation include: Charles Ekong (Leader, World Health Organisation, Brazaville, Congo), BR Ravishankar (United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, Environmental Expert), Dr Luka Mangreep Ibrahim (World Health Organisation, Nigeria), Pier Mudu (World Health Organisation Headquarters).