The Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA)-a Lagos Based non-governmental and non-religious group has joined other environmental justice advocacy groups across the world to celebrate this year’s World Environment Day, WED.
This came even as the group called on both the Federal and state governments to take urgent steps to correct the environmental injustices that are evident across the length and breadth of the nation.
The right group made this known in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Barrister Emmanuel Nwaghodoh and made available to the press.
According to the group, World Environment Day is a day of celebration. It is a day upon which, for over forty years, people the world over have advocated and acted for a healthy environment. From beach clean-ups to mass tree-planting, proper disposal of industrial and medical wastes to marches, individuals, communities and governments have come out to stand shoulder-to-shoulder for our planet.
While aligning with the global body’s decision on this year’s celebration, the group admitted that we cannot take to the beaches, forests and streets. We must stay at home, keep our distance and mark World Environment Day virtually.
“This is because we all stand in solidarity with those suffering from the global pandemic. We need to protect the sick, the poor and the vulnerable from the worst ravages of this disease. In particular, our thoughts are with the Americas, where the pandemic is now hitting hard,” Nwaghodoh said.
He, however, lamented why successive administration in Nigeria has not deemed it necessary to take environmental protection, regeneration and remediation particularly in the Niger Delta region of the country seriously.
“It is factually documented that the rights of the coastal communities to clean environment and access to clean water supplies and clean air are being violated in the Niger Delta. By its admission, the oil industry has abandoned thousands of polluted sites in the region which need to be identified and studied in details.
“Aquifers and other water supply sources which are being adversely affected by industrial or other activities needed to be recovered while communities are adequately compensated for their losses,” he added.
Continuing, the right group queried why it is taking successive administration eternity to clean up Ogoni land despite the African Commission’s recommendation for a total clean up of the polluted Ogoni and other adjourning communities in addition to taking preventive remedial and compensatory measures to improve economic and social outcomes for the Ogoni community. And the UNEP Report recommending a total clean–up of Ogoni land.
To make this year’s celebration rewarding in socioeconomic terms, the group urged the Federal Government to; immediately commence the clean-up of Ogoni land as such is long overdue and at the same time bring to an end the gas flaring in the Niger Delta.
SEJA finally congratulated Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme and equally pay tribute to Colombia, this year’s World Environment Day host nation, for making this event happen, and to the many thousands of advocates honouring this day with their own virtual events during these difficult times.