From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

Concerned by the divestment plans of Shell Petroleum Company (SPDC), Bayelsa State House of Assembly, has called on the state government to initiate legal actions against the oil company over plans to divest from Nigeria.

Since its discovered oil in commercial quantities in 1956 in Oloibiri, Shell has been operating in several communities in the state.

Presiding over plenary, the Speaker, Abraham Ingobere, who read out the two-point resolution appealed to Governor Douye Diri to direct the Attorney General of the state to take immediate legal action in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, where the headquarters of SPDC is located.

According to him, this has become necessary to halt the divestment proceedings until an agreement regarding environmental remediation and compensation is reached.

The House of Assembly also urged members of the National Assembly from Bayelsa State to raise motions that will cushion the environmental remediation during the divestment process of Shell.

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Ebizi-Rosemary Brown, member representing Sagbama Constituency 3, who raised the motion on the planned divestment of SPDC of Nigeria, said there was need to ensure accountability for environmental and social impact in the state.

Brown said previous companies that have divested in the region lack the technological and financial capability to address the inevitable environmental issues stemming from obsolete infrastructure they inherited.

Deputy Speaker and leader of the House, Michael Ogbere, and Monday Bubou, supported the motion, stating its importance lies in the fact that it affects the lives of the people.

The duo, while stressing that SPDC should carry out environmental assessment, restoration, and remediation before divesting, called on the government to institute the necessary legal framework before granting SPDC leave.

Daniel Charles, Ted Elemefuro, and Living Mitin also sought environmental justice and emphasised the need for a proper assessment to ensure the safety of the environment and aquatic life.

They called upon the National Assembly members from Bayelsa to take appropriate action to establish a standard for companies operating or intending to leave the state. The resolution also urged the Federal Government to halt the divestment until proper environmental clean-up and remediation are concluded.