International Oil Companies (IOCs) would be held accountable for massive pollution of the environment, the Federal Government warned on Monday.
The Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, said at the 12th National Regulatory Dialogue on Implementation of National Environmental Regulations, that the government was set to institute an environmental task force to try and sanction oil companies found culpable of environmental pollution.
The dialogue was organised by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), in Abuja.
Abdullahi said that the essence of the dialogue was to address certain gaps and produce sufficient regulatory frameworks that would deal with emerging and ongoing environmental challenges.
“The federal government is conscious of the state of environmental degradation in the country and is making strong effort in addressing the situation.
“The federal government is also making efforts toward effective management, conservation and protection of the biological resources in our environment for sustainable development.
“Accordingly, the federal government will henceforth hold the international oil companies accountable for the massive pollution of our environment and its ecosystem.
“Government is set to institute an environmental task force, especially on oil pollution, and will monitor, track, evaluate and sanction these erring companies and their local collaborators,” the Minister said.
The pollution, the minister said, followed the fragrant abuse of our coastlines, mangroves, natural habitats in the guise of prospecting or exploiting of our biodiversity resources by the oil companies.
He said the government would apply the principles of the “polluters pays’’ to help in the remediation efforts of polluted communities.
Abdullahi said the Federal Government has put in place institutional framework and regulation to ensure effective environmental protection and implementation of national policy on environment.
The NESREA, he said, has developed and gazetted 35 national environmental regulations across different sectors of the economy, which are being implemented across the country.
He said the agency had reviewed eight regulations to bridge the identified gaps, pointing out that these regulations were not designed to stifle economic and industrial developments, but to safeguard human and sustainable use of the environmental resources.
“I, therefore, call on everyone, most especially the IOCs and industry operators, to carefully study these regulations and comply as government will not hesitate to sanction defaulters.
“As we strive to evolve and adopt different approaches and strategies in solving our environmental challenges, I wish to plead with us to work together to review these regulations. The effort will enable us protect our environment for future generation,” he said.
The minister expressed worry over unprecedented environmental challenges, especially pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss the industry was facing.
adding that the loss of global forests was at an alarming rate of 350,000 to 400,000 hectares per year.
He, however, urged stakeholders to advocate strongly on the national regulations as much as possible, adding that compliance starts with awareness and sensitization.
The Director-General of NESREA, Aliyu Jauro, said the dialogue was an annual programme to delineate responsibilities, share experiences and fashion out best practices to support the promotion of effective environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement in the country.
He said the government has put in place environmental monitoring tools such as the regulation, standards and guidelines to guide the regulated community and other citizens.
The Minister called on relevant stakeholders to comply with the regulations and policies, adding that the regulations will be constantly reviewed to respond to emerging environmental challenges. (NAN)