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Igbini flays Shell over illegal detention of journalists


Igbini flays Shell over illegal detention of journalists

Written by Emma Amaize
Monday, 08 September 2008

NATIONAL President of the Vanguard for Transparent Democracy and Leadership (VATLAD), Mr. Emmanuel Igbini, weekend, condemned last week’s illegal detention for more than three hours of over 16 journalists and environmental rights activists by some officials of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) at its Otorogun Gas Plant in Ughelli, Delta state.

“We received with utmost worry and disgust, media reports of illegal arrest and detention of journalists, host oil community leaders and officials of the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) by security operative allegedly on the order of the Shell Petroleum Development Company simply for embarking on a fact finding mission on alleged environmental pollution at the SPDC Otorogun oil fields in Delta State,” he said in a statement, made available to Vanguard.

“We wish to state unequivocally, that neither SPDC nor any security agencies has the right to deny any Nigerians or group embarking on fact finding mission aimed at ensuring the peace, unity and environmental protection in SPDC or any oilproducing station in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“SPDC has an obligation to Nigeria to keep the environment clean and protected at all times in the course of her oil production activities. This is the perquisite for their being granted the Oil Mining License (OML) in Otorogun and other parts of Nigeria, as stipulated in the Petroleum Act of 1969.”

“The mission of the detained team is a constitutional responsibility of the Press and Environmental Right Action (ERA) to report on matters of environmental care and protection as stipulated by Section 20 of the Nigerian Constitution,” he asserted.

According to him, “The detention of the journalists and others, violated their right to human dignity provided by Section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution which forbids any Nigerian from being subjected to inhuman treatment and or torture.”

“The illegal detention,” he pointed out,” also amounts to violation of the press freedom guaranteed by Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution.”

“SPDC and other oil producing companies in Nigeria must subject themselves at all times to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution no matter the situation. They cannot hide under threat to security to carry out unlawful and unconstitutional acts against Nigerians.

“Whereas we recognized the need for the oil companies to secure their facilities in view of recent attacks, but in this instant case, SPDC has confirmed that the team was on a peaceful environmental pollution fact finding mission, SPDC action was, therefore, grossly unlawful and sadly projects it as having some facts to hide from the people,” he said.

He said, “We are also aware that the media has over two weeks now, continued to report of the outcry by leaders of the Otorogun Host Community of environmental pollution from the SPDC field, but no official statement was released by SPDC.”

“SPDC must, therefore, tender unreserved public apology to the journalists and make necessary compensations to them for the mental and psychological torture suffered by the team during the hours of detention”, he added.

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