By Udeme Utip
Members of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN) operating in Atlantic coastline of Akwa Ibom have sent a save our soul (SOS) to Federal Government to Intervention in the issue of oil spill compensation to alleviate the suffering of fishermen in the area.
The SOS which was endorsed by the state secretary of the association, Mr. Inyang Ekong, and made available to news men, alleged that fishermen had consolidated claims from ExxonMobil from 1998 pending at the presidency.
It called on the presidency to intervene by ensuring that the said monies are duly paid to the affected fishermen in the state.
“We are appealing to President Mohammadu Buhari to intervene in this matter and ensure that ExxonMobil release oil spill compensation to fishermen in the state.
“The Artisan are here to report the suppression affecting us through the payment of compensation to communities and none payment of compensation to the affected fishermen,’’ he said.
He mentioned that the immediate past administration had mediated between the oil firm and impacted communities but regretted that fishermen was always sidelined during the payment of the oil spill compensation.
He however, decried a situation where compensations from the oil giants don’t always get to the affected fishermen in the fishing communities in the state.
Ekong said that the frequent oil spill had caused untold hardship on their members, which according to him; numbers over 7,000 in the state and called on Federal Government to come to their aids.
He noted that some members had died due to hunger and starvation caused by incessant oil spill in the state.
Ekong explained that when the compensation is paid, it would be use to replaced damage nets, boats, fishing equipment caused by oil spill from the company’s facility.
“Some of us don’t have fishing equipment again because of regular oil spill that destroy our properties.
“To enable us start life again, our members are so frustrated that they are dying,’’ Ekong said.
He appealed to ExxonMobil to look into the plight of fishermen, saying that their livelihood had been lost due to frequent oil spill in the area.
He said that pollution from ExxonMobil activities had destroyed fishing activities in the state.
He called on the Federal Government to establish Law stopping oil companies from polluting the Atlantic Ocean that made life unbearable for fishermen in the state.
It would be recalled that oil spill had occurred in Ndito Eka-iba area of Ibeno Local Government Area from ExxonMobil facility on May 8, 2016.