Residents of Agbura and Otuokpoti communities in Ogbia and Yenagoa local government Areas of Bayelsa State, have reported a massive oil leak in the nearby Ekole Creek.
They claim that the source of the spill was an oilfield operated by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company, NAOC, and has resulted in the destruction of farmlands and aquatic lives in the communities.
Many of the residents reportedly trooped to the scene of the leak to scoop the flowing crude oil, which they say was about five centimetres thick on the water surface.
One of the people in the area, Cecilia Osain, told journalists that the spillage has negatively affected fishing activities in the river.
She said that those who went fishing came back with no catch as the crude oil had forced the fishes, crayfish and shrimps farther off the high seas where artisanal fishermen cannot venture.
Osain complained that water from the creek could no longer be used either for drinking or for domestic use.
In the meantime, leaders of Otuokpoti community have called on Governor Seriake Dickson to as a matter of urgency send relief materials to the community to cushion the effect of the oil spill.
In a letter co-signed by the Paramount ruler, Chief Cousin Wongo and the Community’s Development Committee chairman, Simpson Isikpi, the community noted that the spillage has negatively affected the economic life of the people as the river serves as a major source of income to members of the community.
“We cannot drink water, we cannot bathe in the river, our aquatic life such as fish and animals are dying. We appeal to the relevant authorities to come to our aid” the letter read in part.
They also called for the immediate clean -up of the river to enable the people resume their fishing activities.
Also, spokesperson of the youth wing of the Ogbia Brotherhood, Lamawal Wilfred, said that operators of the oil field must send experts to the area to ascertain the cause of the leak and effect repairs as soon as possible.
He urged NAOC to prevent further pollution of the river which serves as their major source of water.
When contacted, officials of NAOC declined to comment on the development; also, Filippo Cotalinni, Media Relations Manager of Eni, parent company of NAOC, has yet to respond to a request for comments on the incident.