A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP), has urged the Federal Government to carry out environmental audit of coal mining sites in the country.
Its Executive Director, Mr David Michael, gave this advice in a statement to newsmen in Abuja.
According to him, coal mining in some communities has led to extensive environmental degradation such as contamination of air, water and soil which continue to negatively affect the health of local communities.
He mentioned that Coal mining was currently being done in Maigaga community in Ako local government area of Gombe, Awo Apkali and Onupi communities in Ankpa LGA of Kogi.
He also mentioned Okobo community in Ankpa LGA of Kogi as well as Owukpa in Ogbadibo LGA of Benue adding that some of the sites were mined by some indigenous cement manufacturers.
Michael said also that the Federal Government should investigate and correct the human rights violations in coal mining communities in the country.
He said Federal Government needed to wade into the human rights violations in coal mining communities as Nigeria was one of the countries that made commitments against climate change.
“We would like to urge the Federal Ministry of Environment to immediately carry out an environmental audit of all the coal mining sites in Nigeria.
“Furthermore, we would like to urge the Federal Government to immediately investigate and correct the human rights violations in coal mining communities in Nigeria
“(This is) particularly in some communities such as Maigaga, Itobe, Onupi, Awo Akplokuta, Awo Ojuwo, Awo Ate, Ajobe Afeanyaka and Utala communities in Kogi, Benue and Gombe states,” he said.
Michael said that all mining operations especially those undertaken by multinational companies should adhere to the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights.
“What has been witnessed in Kogi and Gombe states is that fossil fuel companies and large corporations when in need of natural resources, initiate talks with the local communities and consequently enter into agreements whose benefits are heavily skewed against the local people.
“These companies are benefiting greatly from the goodwill of the local communities and are not honouring the agreements entered into.
“There is an urgent need to review the Community Development Agreements signed between the coal mining communities and the companies,” he said.
Michael said Federal Government made commitments under the Paris Agreement, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which were reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“This was where all countries that signed the UNFCCC were asked to publish their commitments to fight climate change.
“In order to reduce carbon emissions, Nigeria should therefore ensure the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions starting with the phasing out of coal-fired plants.
“Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa should be a beacon for other African states by accelerating its national plans that would see a rapid, just transition towards 100 per cent renewable energy for all Nigerians,” he said.