Mr. Peter Idabor, Director General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on Tuesday in Abuja, called for assent to the agency’s amendment bill to ensure criminalization of oil spill in Nigeria.
Lamenting the high rate of oil pollution in Nigeria, he said companies are not deterred because at the moment oil spills is simply treated as a civil offence.
Idabor said, “Oil companies know it’s just a civil offence and so they pollute the environment with impunity. But the amendment bill will criminalise any company that pollutes the environment.
“And if they know that it is a criminal offence and that they can be sent to jail for polluting the environment, they will be more careful in their operations.”
NOSDRA is the Nigerian government agency responsible for monitoring and responding to incidents of oil pollution in the country.
The NOSDRA Amendment Bill have been passed by both arms of the Legislature and is awaiting assent by the president.
Idabor explained that the amendment bill will give NOSDRA more powers to protect and respond to environmental pollution, help support the clean-up of Ogoniland and the remediation of oil spill impacted communities in the Niger Delta region.
“The bill will enforce increased fines and penalties for defaulters as well as monitor the decommissioning of oil facilities and hold oil companies accountable,’’ Idabor added.
He further urged people of oil producing areas to avoid exposure to crude oil and to desist from pipeline vandalism.