How Total forced Lagos community to drink poisoned water

By Valentine Amanze

At a time Nigeria recorded the lowest life expectancy in West Africa (an average of 53.7 years) going by World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report this year, the situation is getting worse in Akoka Yaba, a community ravaged by oil spill in Lagos.
With a population of about two million, Akoka, which hosts University of Lagos and St Finbre’s Collage, Aiyetoro Primary School and many private institutions, will soon record high death rate caused by the consumption of polluted water from a facility owned by Total Plc.
The facility has been leaking petrol into the soil and and other water sources of the community for several years now without repair.
While the appeals to Total Plc to shut down the facility failed, the residents are alleging sabotage. On Saturday, October 5, 2019, hundreds of Akoka residents converged on Chicken Republic, an eatery located in the area, to lament their plight and seek solution.
The residents, under the aegis of “Total, Must Do Right”, insisted that there must be justice for Akoka spill victims, expressing fear that their legitimate demand for justice has resulted in politicization, intimidation, and threat to lives despite the health hazard they were forced to face.
The group lamented that most members of the area had developed serious degrees of health challenges as a result of the polluted water they drink and use for daily chores, just as they inhale polluted air in the entire environment.
Besides, the water samples tested by experts from 10 different locations in the area confirmed that the water in the community is potentially harmful and poisonous for the human body.
An expert and university lecturer, Prof Francis Duru, who attended the gathering confirmed that the water in the area was not good for consumption.
In fact, he said that it contained harmful items that cause cancer like benzene and lead.
He appealed to the state government to provide solution.

Also a chemist and medical personnel, Idiyat Ogunfemi, who interpreted the independent water sample analysis report, explained: “Sample analysis of water done from 10 different points reveal that it is harmful and poisonous for the body. It damages the body inside just as it gives different skin diseases when used to bath. It contains benzene, fluorine, carbon and other poisonous elements that cause cancer, disorganize the central nervous system, paralysis, pneumonia, various degrees of irritation inside and outside the body, tummy ache, cervical growth among others.
“The TPH value in water is expected to be within 0.05 percent range but here we have 7.54 percent, 5.28 percent, 5.86 percent and more and this is killing. There is a school in the area with 900 children, Aiyetoro Primary School, their water is contaminated or do I say poisoned but they are still drinking the water. And the people are dying in installment.”

Renowned environmentalist, Newton Jibunoh, Prof Frances Duru (LUTH), Mr. Jakpor Phillip and Mr. Tunji Buhari (from Environmental Rights Action), Alhaji Akintunde Ogunfemi, Mr. Adebisi Adesoye (Chairman, Akoka Leaders of Thought) among other dignitaries that graced the occasion.
A young man and a father of three children, who addressed himself as Derick, brought an insight to the plight of the residents.
“I have laboured to bring three wonderful kids to the world. I did not bring them out just to visit the world and go back.
“For the past six years we have been frequenting hospitals without knowing that water we consume every day is polluted by oil spill from Total Plc. I appeal to the state government to shut the filling station and provide us good drinking water,” he said.
Another resident, Ms Enuka Uneke, called for the clossure of the only public school in the area, Aiyetoro Primary School, to prevent deaths.
According to her, since the discovery of the source of the pollution, the government was yet to assist. She pointed out that the majority of the residents were poor and could afford other sources of water.
She lamented: “Anytime I see these children coming back from school I cry. I weep because they are innocently drinking poison from the pipes. Imagine with a population of 900, the school is training pupils that die young.
“The government must shutdown the school at Ayetoro to prevent crises,” she said.

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