By Okafor Ofiebor
The Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has accused security operatives in Rivers of colluding with criminals who burst oil pipes and cause environmental pollution in the area.
He revealed this on Monday in Port Harcourt, while declaring open the 2019 Press Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State.
Nsirim insisted that there is a collaboration between those responsible for the pollution of the environment and those whose responsibility is to protect life and property in the area.
“Journalists in Rivers State must rise to condemn the assault of Rivers environment by those who are supposed to protect us. The collaboration between the illegal bunkerers and those supposed to protect us is very close.
“We need to begin to interrogate the policies and programmes of the Federal Government as it affects the Rivers environment. What have journalists done about the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report that was released in 2011?
“We owe society a duty to ensure that we leave behind a worthy legacy. Posterity will judge us if we fail to make an impact and rewrite the history of Rivers environment. It is a challenge to all of us.” He maintained.
The Regent of Ekpeye Kingdom in Rivers State, Eze Felix Otuwarikpo, at the event, also accused officers of Nigerian Army of being in cahoot with criminal elements who engage illegal oil bunkering and continue to vandalise oil pipes, causing environmental pollution in his domain.
“Today, as a traditional ruler, I feel very sad because security agents that have the responsibility to help us to check these criminals are the ones encouraging criminality in our area. I want it to be on record”, the monarch said.
Reviewing the keynote address of the 2019 Press Week, which is; “Role of the Media in Protecting the Rivers Environment”, an environmental expert from the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Ferdinand Giadom, said there were several oil spills in the Niger Delta region that were not attended to.
Describing the Niger Delta region as the most sensitive environment on the planet Earth, Giadom added that journalists had abdicated their responsibility of adequately reporting the environment.
In his remarks, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State, Comrade Stanley Job Stanley, said the topic of the Correspondents’Week serves as a self-appraisal for journalists practising in the state.
Stanley, who was represented by the Vice-Chairman, Comrade Paul Bazia-Nsaneh, said it was the responsibility of journalists to protect the environment through their reportage.