Group wants criminalisation of ecosystem pollution

Stakeholders under the auspices of Oilwatch Africa have raised the alarm over the consistent pollution of fresh water and the destruction of fishery ecosystems in Nigeria and other African countries, saying it should be criminalised.

The stakeholder made this called recently in  Port Harcourt, were they assessed and discussed the impacts of fossil fuel extraction on the environment, principally on water, soil and air.

The conference deliberated on impacts of fossil fuel extraction on people’s rights, including those related to fisheries, farming, health, and social wellbeing. 

The group said the impact of this contamination on women and children due to agricultural lands pollution, contamination of fresh waters and the destruction of fishery ecosystems is criminal and requires immediate action.  

They fingered fossil energy civilization as the bane for the current climate crisis saying it “is a compelling rationale to prohibit all forms of fossil exploration- fresh waters, oceans, forests, and national parks across the continent and elsewhere.”

The participants decried the actions of the corporations who pay little or no concern to the welfare of local communities that depend on the environment for their wellbeing, this according to them is seen in the shocking levels of water pollution/crisis, food shortages, health hazards, land grab, militarization, growing inequality, poverty and conflict in these communities as a result of fossil fuel extraction activities.

They expressed regret that governments in African countries have remained silent while this dangerous exploitation and expropriation continues, noting that urgent actions are needed to wean the continent from fossil dependence. 

According to them, there is need “to stop the continent from being wholly degraded and destroyed.”

They stated that there is an immediate need for African countries to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean and renewable energy. 

The group, therefore, called for the suspension of the opening of new fossil fuel reserves in the continent saying there should be immediate commencement of remediation activities at all fossil fuel extraction sites on the continent just as there should be social and environmental health audit in all fossil fuel extraction locations on the continent.

Oilwatch Africa also called for the  revocation of every policy for the privatization of water on the continent saying water must be seen as an essential part of people’s wellbeing and as a fundamental human right. 

“African governments should improve governance standards to end unbridled conflicts and related land grabbing inspired by fossil energy extraction interests, and that Africans must stand together in the global struggle for climate justice, stand in solidarity with people of the Niger Delta and movement against coal in Africa.

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