By Suoyo Ekubo
Akwa Ibom oil communities have lamented over the loss of livelihood, health challenges, environmental degradation, and security threats as a result of spills, gas flaring and explosion caused by multinational oil companies operating in the areas.
The people, who said their means of livelihood which is mainly farming and fishing have been destroyed due to the activities of the oil companies, said they are also suffering many health challenges as a result.
Daily Trust reports that some of the people during an Environmental Tribunal convened by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre on Tuesday in Uyo, called for government intervention and empowerment to survive, saying they were suffering.
President of Women Association, Amadaka community in Eastern Obolo, Mrs Beatrice Eja, revealed that there was an oil spill in the community last week because an oil well overflowed, adding that women have suffered as a result.
Eja stated that the company was yet to respond to the spill as the community was still waiting for them to react, noting that the women would stage a protest if nothing was done about the spill.
A fisherman from Inuaeyen community, Ibeno Local Government Area, Chief Moses Akpankpo, said the community experienced oil spills in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2019 but nothing was done about it until 2022.
Also speaking, Amb. Gabriel Gabriel from Amadaka community and president, Eastern Obolo Interest Group, said another company had discharged chemicals into the sea after drilling in the community for one year; between 2019 and 2020.
Grace Kingsley Okon from Esit Eket who said the community has not benefitted anything from the three oil companies operating in their area stated that a recent gas explosion caused panic that crippled many people who attempted to run for safety.
While speaking, Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Emem Okon, explained that the tribunal was convened to encourage communities to tell their stories of environmental degradation to the world.
Okon stated that it was a measure to expose the environmental situation of many oil communities which were in contradiction with the International Human Rights Framework that have been adopted by the governments of the world at the United Nations.
While delivering his judgment, the judge of the tribunal, Prof. Sofiri Peterside, found the oil companies guilty, saying the cases showed clear evidence of environmental degradation that has affected the livelihood and health of the people.