On Thursday, February 17, 2022, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface as the Executive Director of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) and National Facilitator of Project with Artisanal Crude Oil Refiners (PACOR) for Modular Refineries in the Niger Delta joined and observed environmental compliance in the ‘destruction’ of artisanal crude oil refining sites in Ikwerre Local Government Area.

It would be recalled that in a New Year 2022 day’s broadcast and subsequent meetings and instructions, the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Nyesom Wike had directed the 23 local government council chairmen to ‘destroy’ illegal artisanal refining sites in their areas as a way of addressing soot and other environmental and economic impacts of the illegal activities.While commending the effort which was coming late but it was better late than never, Fyneface faulted the governor’s directive to the chairmen that they should ‘destroy’ the sites and advised the governor and council chairmen to rather “dismantle” the sites and ensure environmental best practices and compliance in carrying out the governor’s instructions so as not to contribute to the already fragile and hydrocarbon degraded environment. However, despite the advice against “destruction” of sites, some council chairmen still do so in the cause of their duties like security operatives do by setting ablaze such sites and spilling crude into the already devastated environment and ecosystem.In a bid to observe and monitor the activities of the council chairmen in the execution of the governor’s instructions, the Executive Director of Advocacy Centre initiated a practice of periodically joining some council chairmen with local and international media teams to monitor environmental compliance while calling on the government to provide alternative livelihood opportunities including Modular Refineries, establishment of a Rivers State Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (RISACORDI) and/or a Presidential Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI) for youths involved in artisanal crude oil refining in Rivers State and other parts of the Niger Delta by the Federal Government.Fyneface who is also a human and environmental rights campaigner started the process of monitoring environmental compliance by the council chairmen in carrying out the Governor’s instructions at Emohua Local Government Area in January when he accompanied the council chairman, Dr. Chidi Lloyd to some communities in the area.The environmentalist continued the monitoring in February to Ikwerre local government area where he joined others and the council chairman, Dr. Samuel Nwanosike to Ogbodo community in Isiokpo.Speaking at the site with a team of security operatives comprising of the Army, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps as well as the Local Government’s Taskforce Illegal Bunkering and Street Trading”, Dr. Nwanosike said 245 illegal artisanal refining sites have been discovered and dismantled in the local government area. He further said he is complying with environmental best practices in the execution of the Governor’s directive by not destroying the sites but dismantling them. For better understanding, dismantling the sites as recommended by Mr. Fyneface of YEAC include and entail not setting them ablaze but safely evacuating the crude to a safe take and using machine to tear-up the metals and packing them up to safer places for recycling and other better disposable methods. The Chairman also said he has over 7 teams of welders and cutters dismantling the metals on different sites in the bush.

He also further said the crude evacuated from the sites was sent to a tank farm provided by the government but he did not mention where they are located. However, far less crude were seen on the ground except in the reservoirs left behind by the illegal refiners.  Fyneface observed on the visit that some of the areas were illegal refineries were being operated had earlier been set ablaze but he and others could not determine whether it was the council through the taskforce that set the sites ablaze or they caught fire during operations by the illegal refiners. Waling further into the bush, Fyneface could see some welders and cutters dismantling metal pots that were being used to refining the crude oil. He also observed that pipes that were used to siphon and transport crude to the sites by illegal refiners are still in the ground and yet to be removed. Taking a visit to a point where tapping of pipeline was done, the team could see that the points have been removed and clamped by official of Total E & P Nigeria Ltd.The monitoring report summaries that less crude were seen on the ground in the area compared to what was seen in Emohua and that welders and getter were actually seen dismantling the sites and not seen being set ablaze. While environmental compliance has not been 70% in the two local government areas so far monitored, what is seen in Ikwerre Local Government if emulated by other council chairman and improved upon by all the 23 local Government Chairmen, the illegal refineries “destruction” processes may impact the environment less.A monitoring report by;

Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface,

Executive Director, YEAC.

February 17, 2022


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