Youths from Bonny Kingdom in Rivers State led by an ex-militant leader, Orinaemi Hart, yesterday stormed the premises of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt to demand the continuation of hearing of a suit filed against the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) by people of the kingdom.
But the court, presided over by Justice Tijani Abubakar, had adjourned the matter till July 26, when it will give the plaintiff the leave to prove that gas flaring is dangerous to human and plant lives. The youths still insisted on registering their grievances.
Hart who is also the erstwhile leader of the Okoloma Ikpangi, a dreaded cult group in Bonny, was among 50 former militants who were imprisoned at the Port Harcourt prison for months and denied participation in the amnesty process until much later.
Speaking on behalf of hundreds of aggrieved Bonny youths at the Court premises, Hart said the community decided to drag the NLNG to court due to the adverse effect gas flaring had on their lives.
It is not that the company had not done anything for the community; the negative effects of its activities had far out-weighed the benevolence it had shown to the people, he said.
The lawyer added: “We are asking the NLNG to pay $50 million for the damage they have done to our people and community; we are dying. Almost all of us you are seeing here have cancer. That is not too much for them, the money will enable us help ourselves.
“When NLG came, they agreed to do a lot of things and they have tried, we won’t say they haven’t tried, but they did not tell us that they were going to burn us with fire and the fire they are burning us now is killing us, they never told us they were bringing cancer along.
Meanwhile, Council to the Plaintiff, George Ogara, said “gas flaring is a very serious issue, it is open fire on the people and like you will know, fire does not make anybody fat, it rather extinguishes you.
“We are only asking LNG to compensate these people. If you have done so much to their environment to make it uninhabitable, you should also do so much to make them feel they are on earth.”