A British clergyman, the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu has condemned the widespread environmental degradation going on in the Niger Delta region.

The Clergyman identified crude oil spills caused by the operational activities of major oil and gas companies in most communities in the region as the principal source of this environmental degradation.

The Archbishop has therefore called for urgent action to stop the oil spills that are devastating communities in the Niger Delta, especially in Bayelsa State.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the interim report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission, which he chairs, the archbishop said that a slow environmental genocide is taking place in the Niger Delta region as a result of many years of oil exploration and exploitation.

Bayelsa being where crude oil was first discovered is worst off having been affected negatively by these environmental hazards without a remedial action plan from both the federal government and the oil companies.

Oil Spills Devastated Bayelsa Community

There are hundreds of oil spills each year in Nigeria, some caused by equipment failure – others by sabotage.

Dr. John Sentamu, who is the second most senior clergyman in the Church of England, said that oil companies needed to end a culture of double standards in Nigeria.

He accused Shell, AGIP and other oil companies of reaping environmental devastation and ignoring pleas for assistance from the people of Bayelsa.

Both Shell and AGIP say that they follow international standards and best practices and work in accordance with local laws. However, most oil spills from these companies’ operations are ignored by them as they always attribute it to sabotage by militants.

Archbishop Sentamu, therefore, urged these oil companies to be alive to their responsibilities by assisting the communities and government clean up the environment affected by oil spillage.