Attack on Environmental Workers in Ñigeria Under-reported

 

Environmental workers in Nigeria have come under attack while discharging their duties to protect natural resources and the local environment. There has been an increase in such attacks, with most cases going unreported due to threats to the lives of victims, their families, and properties.

According to Mr. Clifford Edevie, Executive Director of the Clean Climate and Environment Campaign Initiative, an environmental Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), workers in the sector have been attacked to the point where many are afraid to return to the field. Edevie noted that Nigeria has a history of environmental defenders being maimed, attacked, kidnapped, tortured, ostracized, and even killed by beneficiaries of environmental crimes.

He cited examples of land grabbers in southwest Nigeria, Fulani herdsmen in northern Nigeria, oil companies, and their community cohorts in the Niger Delta, who have harassed environmental advocates. Edevie remembered the famous Niger Delta environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa, who resisted environmental degradation and exploitation by oil companies and ultimately lost his life.

He said: “From the land grabbers in southwest Nigeria, to the Fulani herds around and within northern Nigeria; not forgetting the oil companies and their community cohorts notable for harassing environmental advocates within the Niger Delta .

“It is difficult to forget the famous Niger delta environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa, who vehemently resisted the continuous environmental degradation/exploitation of the Niger Delta region by oil companies and had to pay the supreme price with his life.

Sources in the Niger Delta region, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that they have been attacked and threatened while working on environmental issues. One source recalled being threatened by a CEO of a multinational packaging company and having their phone bugged and strange visitors following them. Another source reported that their house was attacked by agents of polluters after they conducted a clean air campaign.

The sources also narrated experiences of harassment, intimidation, and violence from beneficiaries of environmental pollution, including community elders, militants, and oil companies. They emphasized that these attacks are common in their daily work life and routine.

The environmental rights activists called for increased protection and support for environmental workers, urging the government to take action against environmental crimes and ensure a safe working environment for those protecting the nation’s natural resources.

The source further disclosed that his house was attacked last week by agents of some aggrieved polluters after the staffs went for clean air campaign/public sensitization to mark 2024 Clean Air Awareness Week and hinging the blame of low air quality on effluence of manufacturing plants located within the state especially the industrial areas in ikorodu in Lagos.

The source from Sustainable Environment Food And Agriculture Initiative SEFAAI, also told Vanguard about the organization’s ordeal while mediating on a land issues among farmers, Fulani herds men and land grabbers in oyo state and recently in Imota a suburb of Lagos state. The source said: “The reaction from the culprits of environmental degradation were fierce and life threatening. Some of our members had to flee and change location to a safer placc.’

Another Environmental right activist; and staff of Connected Advocacy who pleaded anonymous narrated how some community elders who were beneficiaries of proceed of environmental pollution from Multi-Nationals and local oil company went to his house and harassed him and his family members for mobilizing local people to protest oil spillage and gas flaring and also for publishing reports on their nefarious act. He stated how he was detained by militants who are loyal to the oil companies and how he was seriously beaten and warned to desist from any form of enlightenment that threaten the operations of oil companies within the Niger Delta region.

By Vanguard

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