The exploration and production of oil in Bayelsa State and the wider Niger Delta has led to significant environmental and human damage. Despite decades of debate and campaigning by local and international communities, oil spills have caused untold human and environmental devastation in the region. Henry Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State, has mandated the formation of a Commission to collate facts and propose the development of a framework that ensures accountability to avoid future oil spills, and the clean-up of existing spills.
The aim of the commission is to develop a set of informed recommendations that lead to the development of a new legal framework that ensures accountability and an action plan for implementation to ensure a healthy environment by ensuring appropriate clean-up and remediation of impacted sites, and that host communities receive sufficient compensation for the impacts of environmental pollution and degradation, and reap the benefits from the production of oil within their communities.
The Commission will achieve this by:
The Commission will be formed of two groups, one being the Investigative Group known as “The Commission” and an Expert Working Group. The commission will be chaired by the Archbishop of York.
The Chair will be responsible for:
The Commission will be made up of senior individuals with relevant experience. The Expert Working Group will be made up of academics with relevant expertise. The Commissioners will receive reimbursement for pre- approved travel expenses and a per diem rate while the Commission is undertaking its enquiries.
The Commission is an independent body that will not be aligned to any Government or regulatory authority. It will therefore not have formal investigative powers or the ability to subpoena witnesses or compel anyone to engage with it or provide evidence. However, the Commission will consist of a range of senior and influential figures and experts in this area, which will provide it with significant authority.
The administrative functions of the Secretariat will sit with Aequitas Consulting in London. Secretariat support will include:
The commission will operate for a maximum of a year. During this period, the Commission is expected to meet once in Bayelsa State, the Expert Working Group twice virtually and either one or two international evidence sessions (location tbc).
The programme of work will be agreed by the Chair and Secretariat.
The Commission will be independent of any other organisation, but will be ultimately accountable to the Governor of Bayelsa State to whom they will present the final findings of the Commission.