Two human rights groups, the Public Interest Lawyering Initiative for West Africa (PILIWA) and PILEX Centre For Civic Education Initiative-The Peoples Advocates, are embarking on health, social and environmental impact assessment of unchecked pollution in three communities in Rivers State, Nigeria.

This is because of the continuous cases of pollution and the accompanying negative impact on these three communities namely: Ibaa, Rukpokwu and Rumuekpe located in Emohua and Obio Akpor local government areas of Rivers State.

PILIWA is a wing of Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA), a non-profit-making organisation that helps West African communities threatened by the destructive impacts of extractives-led development to take control of their own futures.

PILIWA is a regional movement of lawyers driven by social justice and a host of self-motivated and human rights-driven lawyers who serve threatened communities and assist them to fight for their own vision of the future in the face of pressure from powerful political and economic actors.

PILEX Centre For Civic Education Initiative-The Peoples Advocates, on the other hand, is a public interest advocacy organization working on public interest matters related to the environment and human rights. One of its key focuses is geared towards making the world a just environment for humans to live in dignity and love.

Under the RIV 3 Project, PILEX Centre is partnering PILIWA to engage public health and environmental experts to investigate the extent of the negative impact of extractive activities on the people and their environment.

According to the coordinator of PILEX Center, Courage Nsirimovu, the outcome of the investigation will serve as a “veritable tool for advocacy and litigations where necessary in view of securing justice for impacted communities and setting a new standard for future engagement.”

“For over 70 years, Shell, Total Agip and other multinational oil companies have exploited the crude oil and gas resources of the people of Niger Delta in a rather crude manner which has oppressively polluted and spoilt the environment, killing many species of plants and animals and chasing the survivors away.”

Lawyer Nsirimovu stated that community dwellers have lost much of their fishing and farming livelihoods and the hydrocarbon poisoning in their foods, soil, water, air and body from the pollution, has led to sicknesses, diseases and deaths.

He insisted that PILIWA and PILEX Centre shall be demanding that Multi-National Oil Companies (MNOCs) clean up the polluted environment to restore it to its original state while defaulting MNOCs will be required to build health centers in all polluted environments to treat affected persons without any charge or whatsoever.