Akwa Ibom State government has confirmed the arraignment of two Chinese expatriates arrested and detained few months ago for alleged industrial pollution in violation of Akwa Ibom State environmental protection law.
The suspects, Ltn Zz, the managing director (MD) and Peter Yuan, marketing manager of Golden Tripod Int’l Ltd, according to the commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Sir Charles Udoh, were charged with multiple offenses ranging from “environmental pollution, obstruction of government officials on duty, violent attack on officials and seizure of government vehicles during investigation”.
Udoh, who briefed newsmen yesterday said the company, occupying the former premises of the Solid Rock Kingdom Church (SRKC) at Ikot Ebido Oku area along Ikot Ekpene road, Uyo, the state capital had operated illegally for a few years “without valid work permit, tax clearance and an approved waste management plan designed in collaboration with ministry of Environment for manufacturing industries in the state”.
He recalled that the ministry of Environment in collaboration with the State House of Assembly committee on environment, and state waste management agency had a fortnight ago visited the company and subsequently ordered that activities of the company be brought to a halt.
“Residents of the environment sent a petition to us, and I sent our environmental health workers to go check it out, they went there, and were denied access. Next, we gave them abatement notice and all efforts fell on deaf ears.
“At the same time, the chairman, House of Assembly committee on environment also called to talk about the petition. They invited the company, they snubbed and rather got a lawyer to reply. They wrote a second time, they again, got another lawyer to write back. At that point, we had to go in company of waste management agency as a joint team.
“We arrived there, I introduced myself and the guys locked the gate on us, at that point we had to force ourselves in and what we saw was shocking. First the guys working there, their longevity is highly threatened, they are producing break pads for tricycle and Okada using aluminum.
“These guys are smelting aluminum with no personal protective equipment and at the same time emitting soot and liquid waste into the environment.
“I asked to see the operators, first they dragged their feet and thereafter, two Chinese came out and I asked for their environmental impact assessment and waste management plan, they had none. Next thing they ordered the guys to start throwing stones at us.
“When it became so tensed, the driver of the chairman house committee on environment abandoned his car and ran away, they locked the car in and refused to release it.
“And because we went there with a team of policemen, they had to move to stop them. We had to report to the governor who ordered the case be taken up, so we had to go back, get them arrested and institute a legal case against them.
“They were remanded in prison custody and later arraigned in court on three count charges of environmental pollution, obstruction of government officials on legitimate duty and violent attack on government officials and seizure of vehicle.
“We need to see documents confirming them to be operating on legitimate grounds, we need to see their work permit, and we need to see their tax records. They had made a first appearance in court,” he said.