Reporter : ONYINYE CHIJIOBI
Federal Government has given the assurance of proper arbitration and mediation into the proposed Ameshi Field Development Plan in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazo, stated this following the crisis involving two communities in Ogbaru and the Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company, SEEPCO.
Mrs Ikeazo was speaking at a stakeholders engagement meeting organized by the Federal Ministry of Environment to address the crisis.
Declaring the meeting open, Governor Willie Obiano lammented that the Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company, SEEPCO, commenced operation in Ogwuaniocha and Ogwuikpelle communities in Ogbaru Local Government Area as an operator of OML 143 in 2014 without registering its presence.
The Governor also maintained that the company operated without complying with the extent laws and regulations governing the exploration of hydrocarbon resources.
The violated regulations according to him, included lack of environmental impact assessment, lack of DPR permits for exploration, well drilling and pipe laying.
Governor Obiano also noted that the operations of SEEPCO had further worsened the plight and living conditions of the said communities, adding that it created tension and restiveness that were uncommon before the company commenced operation in the area.
He urged the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon ikeazo, to help Anambra access the ecological fund to help the State salvage its remaining land mass.
The Minister, who said that it was observed that SEEPCO did not obtain all required regulatory permits before embarking on drilling at site, maintained that it was a clear violation of section 62 of the environmental impact assessment act which the Ministry would prosecute.
Mrs. Ikeazu noted that the stakeholders meeting was aimed at arbitrating and resolving the issues between the State Government and SEEPCO.
She called on the meeting to examine issues such as flooding, decline in biodiversity, land degradation, oil spillage, waste management, sociocultural and gender based issues, with a view to averting social upheavals and civil unrest.
Members of the Defence Headquarters, the Navy, and other security agencies, top State Government officials, the clergy, traditional rulers, among others also attended the meeting.