Fishermen in Unyenge community, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, have demanded N250 billion compensation from an oil company, Universal Energy Resources Ltd. (UERL).
The fishermen told newsmen in Mbo on Sunday that they made the demand under the aegis of Famous Fishing Organisation (FFO).
The chairman of the organisation, Johnson Harry, told journalists that the members were affected by the Aug. 15 oil spill from the company’s oil field in Stubb Creek.
According to him, the spill emptied about 2,000 barrels of crude into the Ede Akpa River in the area and has prevented them from fishing– their only source of their livelihood.
He also said that the oil company should pay adequate compensation to farmers in the community who were also affected by the oil spill.
“The oil flowed to Ede Akpa River where we do our fishing activities and destroyed our fishing equipment and as a result, we can no longer fish in the river again,’’ he said.
He said that the oil spill also destroyed farmlands in the area, affecting the livelihood of 5,000 farmers in Unyenge community.
Harry said that the spill had caused untold hardship to the people of the area, and that some of their members had died of hunger and starvation, as a result.
“We cannot farm, and according to international standard, if there is an oil spill, you have to wait for 10 years before you can start farming again,’’ Harry said.
“The hazardous substances coming from the spilled crude has destroyed aquatic life, raffia palms and fishing nets.
“Even the air we breath in the area have been affecting our health and we no longer go out for fishing,’’ he said.
Harry urged UERL to clean up the affected lands and waters in the area, according to international standard.
The Public Affairs Officer of the company, Aniefiok Iwaudofia, confirmed the incident, saying the cause of the spill was equipment failure from a ruptured flange on the tank outlet.
He, however, said that the quantity of crude spilled into the river was only about three barrels. “It is important to note that the spill was immediately and effectively contained within the Stubb Creek well pad.
“The little that poured on the UERL acquired Right of Way (ROW) was scooped and the top soil excavated and back-filled with fresh sand,’’ he said.
Iwaudofia assured the host community that the management would continue to engage in practice and processes designed to effectively manage the hazards of its operations.