The Senate on Tuesday directed the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited to pay N18.4 billion as compensation to 73 communities of Obiafu, Soku to Bonny in Rivers state.
The communities are to be compensated for the acquisition of their land and loss of use of the affected land to pipeline Rights of Way through the communities
The Senate further directed that the payment should be made within 60 days.
The resolutions were adopted after the Senate considered the report of its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions that investigated a petition written by the communities.
Presenting the report, the Committee chairman, Senator Patrick Akinyelure said following its incorporation, the NLNG acquired landed properties in Rivers state spanning over 210 kilometres for use as its pipelines’ Right of Way which ended at the export terminal of the NLNG in Finima, Bonny Local Government Area of the state.
“There were over 73 communities and over 200 families whose hitherto agrarian sources of livelihood were negatively impacted upon by the said acquisition.
"That after the recent intervention of the Senate and after being given one month instead of 7 days allowed by the Senate to provide evidence of payment to the Committee, the NLNG could only show evidence of payment to some individuals, families and communities.
"The total amount it paid for part of the 210 kilometres of land acquired for pipelines Rights of Way was N74,642,773.00 which is not significant when compared to the sum of N18.4 billion approximately demanded by the 73 communities and over 200 families, which has never been objected to by the NLNG up till now.
"That the payment made covered only 39 communities and 73 individuals and families; and that there was no Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the communities and NLNG on future obligations in the name of Corporate Social Responsibility with the impacted communities.
"There was evidence that other oil companies such as Shell Petroleum Development Company, Totalfina, Elf Petroleum, Agip Oil Company paid compensation for the loss of use of land to their host communities.
"NLNG confessed that the payments were made long ago and could not reasonably trace most of the payments documents but promised to look for further evidence to show that it paid stakeholders concerned if given another one month to enable do so.
"The committee considered their request unnecessary and unreasonable having granted NLNG one month earlier instead of 7 days allowed by the Senate at plenary to conclude its report."
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also urged President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to reclaim and protect shorelines at Anyama, Twon-Brass, Odioama and Sangana communities devastated by coastal erosion in Bayelsa state.
It called on the Federal Ministries of Environment and Niger Delta, Ecological Fund Office, and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to urgently evaluate the extent of damage, and also initiate and execute shorelines reclamation and protection projects in the affected communities.
The Senate further urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide relief materials to the affected communities.
It reached the resolution after it adopted a motion sponsored by Senator Degi-Ermienyo Biobarakuma (PDP-Bayelsa East).
Presenting the motion, Biobarakuma noted that the menace of coastal erosion was threatening the existence of coastal communities in Bayelsa state.
He said, "The issue of coastal erosion has not been adequately addressed by successive administrations both at the federal and state levels from our nation's independence till date.
"Several communities in Bayelsa's east senatorial district had been washed away due to neglect and lack of attention to deal with the devastation of coastal erosion.
"Anyama, Twon-Brass, Odioama and Sangana communities in Brass and Ogbia local government areas in Bayelsa east senatorial district had experienced coastal erosion to the extent of their shorelines receding from 100 to 300 into the communities over the years.
"The menace has currently created serious ecological disasters and untold social and economic to people of the communities as their homes, farmlands, economic trees, vital government establishments such as roads, schools, churches, SME - cottage industries and other critical infrastructures are been washed away.
"In some cases, even crude oil and gas facilities, especially pipelines along communities' shorelines are not spared from coastal erosion thereby constituting a great danger to the host communities."