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Akwa Ibom community considers international legal action against ExxonMobil

Worried by the obstinacy of the oil giant, Exxon Mobil, to remediate its environment, Ibeno, an oil-producing community in Akwa Ibom State, is considering dragging the company to an international court.

Ibeno, the host community of Exxon Mobil has repeatedly called on the company to have a comprehensive audit of the environmental, social, health and economic damage its extractive activities had caused and ensure adequate remediations and reparation.

The call intensified in 2022, when ExxonMobil announced plans to sell its assets to Seplat Energy, having extracted crude from the community for about 62 years.

The community in a one-day Community Diagnostic Dialogue at the village hall in Upenekang on issues of oil pollution organised by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) noted that they would consider approaching an international court as ExxonMobil has no respect for court judgements in Nigeria as shown in the past.

In an interview with journalists on Friday, the President, Upenekang Town Council, Chief Godwin Efanga, recounted that Mobil had ignored their several petitions on the need to carry out an immediate and comprehensive audit of the community before leaving.

He noted that Exxon Mobil had been known for flouting Nigerian court orders saying that they will look for a way to approach the International Court in America through the help of a Non Governmental Organisation.

According to him: “Exxon Mobil, as we know, are those who may not want to respect government policies or court judgement in Nigeria. The longest picketing in the whole world is in Exxon Mobil and we will not take the risk of suing the company here in Nigeria because they will not even obey if we get justice.

“For instance, since 2018 after getting a judgement from the Supreme Court for Exxon Mobil to recognise the sacked Spy policemen, and other security workforce as their employees and to pay them their full entitlement, Exxon Mobil ignored the ruling, rather, it used government agents such as the policemen and the army to chase away the people.”

A leader in the community, Mrs. Iquo Dan, noted that since July 2022 when the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd, through the court, temporarily blocked Mobil from selling its assets, the company has not taken any step to audit its years of operation in Ibeno.

She, therefore, called for a comprehensive audit of the Ibeno community which would cover environmental, livelihood, health, social and economic impacts of crude oil and gas extraction

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