Abuja - Amnesty International, an international non-governmental organisation, urged the Federal Government to strengthen the capacity of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to enhance its functions.
This is contained in a report launched by the organisation in Abuja on Tuesday.
The report was carried out by Amnesty International, in collaboration with the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), to expose and challenge the human rights impact of oil population in the Niger-Delta.
The report said that the government should strengthen the capacity of NOSDRA to function to high professional standard, especially by providing an increased budget for its operations.
It said that it became important so that it would be able to hire qualified staff and conduct independent assessments of oil spill sites and remediation in the country.
The organisation also called on the government to implement in full the recommendations of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) environmental assessment report for Ogoniland, 2011.
The report was being published to mark the 20th anniversary of the execution on November 10, 1995 of the environmental activist and writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Saro-Wiwa was noted for carrying out campaign against the damage caused by the activities of the oil companies in the Niger Delta.
Earlier Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher, Amnesty International, said that the government should also undertake an independent audit of NOSDRA.
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He said government should audit the way the agency certified sites that had been remediated by oil companies and publish the audit along with recommendations for addressing weakness in NOSDRA.
The official said that the alleged improper clean up had impacted negatively on the people of the zone, especially the Ogoniland.
"Oil spills have a devastating impact on the fields, forests and fisheries that the people of the Niger Delta depend on for their food and livelihood.
"Anyone who visits these spill sites can see and smell for themselves how the pollution has spread across the land," he said.
Also, Stevyn Obodoekwe, CEHRD’s Director of Programmes, said that "as people remember Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni leaders who were executed in 1995, government cannot ignore their contributions."
"For many people of the region, oil has brought nothing but misery.
"The quality of life of people surrounded by oil fumes, oil encrusted soil and rivers awash with crude oil is appalling and has been for decades,” he said.
According to him, the Niger Delta is the biggest oil-producing region in Africa and the largest oil company there is Shell.
"It operates around 50 oil fields and 5,000 km of pipelines, much of them aging and poorly-maintained.
"The oil giant’s own figures admit to 1,693 oil spills since 2007, though the number is probably higher."
He said oil spills had contaminated the land and rivers which nearly two-thirds of the Niger Delta’s people relied on for food and livelihood.