A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State yesterday began hearing in multiple cases the Bayelsa State Government filed against oil companies operating in the state for environmental pollution.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kemasuode Wodu, instituted the three suits, which were already slated for hearing, but the court presided over by Justice Jane E. Inyang, adjourned the matters to February 11, 2019 to enable government resolve some technical issues.
Kemasuode, who appeared in court with four other lawyers, said the government was determined to pursue the matters to their logical conclusion.
He said the state government, in fulfilling its responsibilities, took the oil firms to court following environmental problems their activities were causing in most parts of the state.
He lamented that oil spills occur on daily basis in Bayelsa but the companies do not conduct remediation to restore the environment, adding that the oil multinationals shy away from even paying compensations to persons whose property had been damaged by spills.
He regretted that the firms’ irresponsible behaviour was causing serious health challenges such as cancer and respiratory problems to residents of the state.
“The state government filed a number of suits against the oil companies because of the environmental problems that they have been causing in the state as a result of their activities.
“As we know, these spills occur everyday and they do not even carry out remediation of the environment. They pay no compensations to persons whose property had been damaged by the spills. We know that there is an increase of cancer cases and so many other health challenges in the state.
“So, the state government cannot fold its arms. We have decided to approach the court to test the position of the law with respect to compelling the companies to be alive to their duties and responsibilities. We have to ensure that they carry out remediation first. They don’t always do that.
“Most times they spend one to two months before they visit spill sites. The spilled crude oil would have seeped into the environment. But we must take actions. These are the kind of actions that we had filed,” he stated.
Specifically, Kemasuode said the government was seeking remediation and restoration of the environment that has been destroyed by the oil companies, as well as other damages.