“All the business activities that go on around this river have been shut down because of the oil spill, so it’s a great loss and a bad period for Eleme people.” - Hon. Martha Aigbe; Aleto community.
On the 11th of June 2023, an oil spill occurred at Aleto from a facility belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) polluting the Okulu River and the farmlands around its environs.
The spill, as narrated by community women was noticed on Sunday 11th June along the banks of the Okulu river. The river flows through several communities of the area; Akpajo, Aleto, Agbonchia etc.
“We just noticed that oil was just flowing into the water, as the water was moving it was flowing.” – Dr. Patience Osaroejiji; Mba Okase Women Initiative, Eleme
Aleto and its neighboring communities are primarily farmers and fishermen, they depend on the river and farmlands as their source of livelihood. The women who are the people that fish and farm in the area are now been robbed of their livelihood as a result of the spill in the area.
It’s notable to state that the spill is not a sabotage, but a mechanical fault on the part of the company - Shell Nigeria. The community shared that the ‘rusted’ pipe was serviced earlier in January this year, but months later the facility started leaking and later puffed through the community.
The spill didn’t just pollute the land, it has caused serious air pollution in the area. Kebetkache team who visited women and the spill site in the area, noticed that the air wasn’t breathable.
“As we our standing here, we can’t even breathe. The air is so much polluted, even spread round the community. This is sad!” - Idongesit Umoh-Smart; Kebetkache Women Development
Earlier in the week, the community confirmed that representatives of the company visited the leadership of community to discuss the issue. It was confirmed to us, that Shell representatives asked that the site should be restricted to the public.
“Shell don go visit Paramount Ruler and the Chiefs, Dey negotiate. Them talk say them no want anybody around the site, that them go contend the spill. Make much people no plenty for the case.” – Community youth member
The Rivers State Government, as represented by the State Parliament member; Hon Engr Aforji Igwe and the local government Chairman; Mr. Obarilomate Ollor, after inspecting the spill site and acknowledging that it was as a result of equipment failure, called on Shell to act quickly to arrest the situation. They also called for calm among community members.
Shell Nigeria, as usual is trying to cover up the case and deny responsibility. Till date, the company is yet to release a statement confirming the incident. Shell is notorious for degrading and polluting environment across the Niger Delta.
We call on National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to set up a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) comprising of stakeholders, women, media, CSOs, community leaders to determine the cause of the spill, bring polluters to account, clean-Up the spill and compensate affected persons for their loss of livelihoods.
Shell who is on a ‘Divestment’ spree, should be accountable to the damages done in the Niger Delta and ensure that devastated ecosystem and polluted environment is restored. And their divestment should include Assets and Liabilities.