The surprised exclusion of the Bayelsa Technical Committee set up by the state governor, Senator Douye Diri may affect the Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) into the cause and volume of spill from the leak at Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29.
JIV is a statutory probe that follows every leak incident by regulators, operators, state Ministry of Environment and host communities, aimed at uncovering the cause of the spill and volume of leak.
The JIV to the well leak, which polluted the Santa Barbra River and Nembe creeks for over 30 days, was marred by the absence of officials of the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment and the State Technical Committee.
Officials of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production, operators of the OML 29 had opposed the inclusion of the media in the investigation as the Bayelsa Technical Committee insisted that inclusion of the press was to ensure transparency.
The divergent views expressed by the two parties led to a boycott by representatives of the state Ministry of Environment and Bayelsa Government Technical Committee.
Some officials of Aiteo, who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the JIV was constituted of representatives of oil firm, regulators, state Ministry of Environment and impacted communities.
They maintained that they were not opposed to the participation of the state Technical Committee but the inclusion of media was not allowed in the statute books that listed the statutory participants in a JIV.
The 11 member Bayelsa Technical Committee inaugurated by Mr Diri on December 15 comprises five representatives, five members.
Reacting to the development Kemasuode Wodu (SAN), the Legal Team Lead of the State described the exclusion of the press as unacceptable as the Bayelsa Government urged the committee to ensure transparency.
“The Bayelsa Government team on the JIV was barred by Aiteo and armed security deployed to the oilfields, so when they insisted that we drop our press crew, we became apprehensive of their motives and even our safety.
“So we are not aware if they went ahead or not but we were emphatic that the state government wants investigations to be conducted in a very transparent manner,” Wodu said.