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Rivers Residents Sign 250-Paged Petition To UN Over Soot.



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As part of event marking two years of the appearance of poisonous sub-micron particulate matter, popularly called “Soot” in the atmosphere in Rivers State, residents of the state signed a 250-page petition to the United Nations (UN).

The residents gathered at a summit organized in Port Harcourt, by Stop-the-Soot Campaign and We-the-People, two nongovernmental organizations leading the campaign for an end to soot in the state, said the inaction of the Nigerian government to over the matter.

Speaking at the event, Convener of Stop-the-Soot Campaign, Eugene Abels, said the decision to sign the petition followed the refusal of UN to respond to the previous petition sent to the organization more than one month ago.

Abels said: “For best practice, when you receive a letter, you acknowledge it. How can United Nations, over a month not to acknowledge letters sent to them? Or the World Health Organization?

“It bothers on the realm of irresponsibility for such an international organisation funded by international funds not respond to save people’s lives.

“The Rivers State government has started it. Last week, we also attended a summit on environment. They are collaborating with the Nigerian Medical Association.

“The laws on environment are federal in nature, regulators are federal in nature, the security agencies are federal in nature. The federal government is supposed to lead the task and they have been grossly irresponsible.

“The people we pay salaries to, which include the President, the Vice President and the security agencies should do their job and stop the stealing of petroleum products. Once it is stopped, there will be no artisan refineries, there will be no soot.

“We are signing the petition to tell the United Nations to respond to what we have raised. They are here in Port Harcourt; they must respond to it. If they fail to respond, we are going to New York.”

Also speaking, leader of We-the-People, Ken Henshaw, said the anti-soot summit, which had the theme: “Rise for Climate: Stop the Soot” said the group is disappointed at the attitude of the Nigerian government towards eradicating soot in the state.

Henshaw said: “This event is to call for global attention to climate change. We cannot discuss climate change and fossil fuel on Rivers State without talking about Soot. We feel terribly disappointed that government at local, state and federal levels have deliberately refused to act on this issue.

“No reasonable government will allow its people breath poisonous cancer-causing hydrocarbon soot for 24 months without any action being taken. It is unfair and it is safe to say that every indigene and resident of Rivers State is on death row.”

In a goodwill message, Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Rivers State, Dr. Mrs. Obelebara Adebiyi, said the association is deeply worried over the soot in the atmosphere.

Adebiyi, who was represented by Dr Omosibie Maduka, assured of the association’s support towards every concerted effort to end the menace.

She said: “NMA is deeply worried over what the Soot particles have caused in the state in the past two years. We will support every concerted effort towards bringing an end to this soot.”