The House of Representatives has called for an independent evaluation of the pollution of underground water through the spill of oil in parts of the Akoka community in Lagos state by Total Exploration and Production Company Ltd
Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Hon Jerry Alagboso, announced this on Tuesday in Abuja in response to the petition initiated by representatives of Akoka Community of Lagos State led by Engr Akintunde Ogunfemi.
In his presentation, Engr Ogunfemi informed the committee that there was a spillage by the Total E$P Nigeria Limited facility in the Akoka area of Lagos arising from oil leakages, adding that the recurring oil spill which lasted for about five years had resulted in the poisoning of the water, and other means of survival of the people of the area.
In the bid to alleviate the suffering of the people living in the affected communities, he urged the company to ensure the immediate provision of portable water and pipes for the community; medical surveillance as well as an environmental audit for the safety of the residents of the area.
The community also demanded for appropriate sanctions to be meted out to the company by the relevant authorities of the state for the damages caused by it.
On his part, Total’s Legal Adviser, Mark Maner, explained that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had issued a clean bill of health to the company adding that the Agency also recommended that a re-certification of the oil testing facility should be done after two years.
According to him, the company had done an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the facility in agreement with the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).
In his intervention, a member of the committee Hon Ademorin Kuye who demanded that justice for the people of Akoka, alleged that profiteers had turned the area into an abandoned zone, as Akoka which used to be the Government Reserved Area of Shomolu has been deserted due to the pollution.
Kuye who presented the petition to the House, had been receiving briefing on the incident from.the community representatives since 2019.
In his ruling, Hon Alagbaso disclosed that a four -man committee to be headed by Hon. Ferdinand Nwankwo will embark on a tour of the affected area for an on the spot assessment of the pollution of the community on a date to be determined by the committee adding that the community was not carried along in whatever remediation Total Nigeria Plc claimed to have done in the community.
While speaking with newsmen, Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, Akinbode Oluwafemi who applauded the House intervention said: “We believe this hearing by the House Committee on Public Petitions is a good start in the quest for justice for the impacted people of Akoka in Lagos state.
“It is unfortunate that the community people have been put through the needless trauma of coming all the way from Lagos to Abuja to again show what Total did to their drinking water and environment.
“One thing is certain: Total may delay or rigmarole, but it cannot hide or dodge responsibility for the environmental harm inflicted on the innocent community people. The onus is now on our honourable lawmakers. Total must own up and pay up.”
It will be recalled that the tortuous PMS pollution of Akoka Community came to a head on 13th August 2017 when there was a major burst of the underground storage tank of Total filling Station located at soamt finbarr’s college road Akoka, the pollution affected nine streets including some parts of oyenuga.