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*Minister Overrules DG

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has expressed dissatisfaction with comments credited to the Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr. Idris Musa, on the legality of the state’s technical committee on the recent oil spill in Nembe Local Government Area of the state.

The NOSDRA DG was reportedly quoted to have said that the committee was illegal and also prevented the media from being part of the Joint Investigation Visit to the spillage site.

Governor Diri spoke on Monday during a courtesy visit of the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, to Government House, Yenagoa.

The minister was in the state for an on-the-spot assessment of the blowout that occurred at OML 29 Wellhead platform operated by Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited in Nembe.

The leak lasted for about 38 days before it was eventually stopped on December 8.

Governor Diri who described NOSDRA’s action as unacceptable, said his decision to set up the technical committee on the spill was influenced by the country’s Constitution and the laws of Bayelsa State.

He said he owed the people of Nembe the responsibility of protecting every victim affected by the spill and would leave no stone unturned in ensuring justice and full compensation for the people.

While calling on the JIV team set up by NOSDRA to be transparent and free from any form of compromise, Senator Diri, said it was unethical for Aiteo to provide logistics for the JIV.

His words: “Honourable Minister, I was not happy with the report I got from my team, particularly comments allegedly made by the DG of NOSDRA. I’m an elected governor of Bayelsa State and the number one thing about me is the wellbeing of the people, the environment and property of my state.

“I was told that the DG allegedly made comments that the committee I set up and inaugurated was an illegal committee. Also, he reportedly said that the media cannot be part of the JIV.

“Those were the reports I received from my team. I’m happy that you have cleared the issues about the media and they would be part of it.

“Like I said earlier, states and the federal government are supposed to work hand in gloves. I have the powers vested by the Nigerian Constitution and the laws of Bayelsa State to set up the committee within the confines of Bayelsa State and on anything that is injurious to the people of the state.

“With the way it is going, I’m not happy with the report I’m getting from my committee. Aiteo could not have been the one to provide the logistics for the JIV. And the DG of NOSDRA should be the number one person to protect the state, its team and the environment.”

The governor however thanked the minister for coming to have a first hand knowledge of the plight of the Nembe people and Bayelsa State in general.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, said her visit was to assess the damage caused by the spill and to ensure speedy remediation.

Mrs. Ikeazor, who was accompanied by the NOSDRA DG, however said it was proper for the media to be part of the JIV and that journalists would not be prevented from visiting the site.

The minister further stated that from reports made available to her, 16,800 barrels of oil had been recovered from the polluted water.

She thanked the people of Nembe Local Government Area for their peaceful disposition during and after the spill.

She also commended the state government for the exemplary leadership demonstrated to manage the situation.

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