Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom has set-up an emergency technical committee to investigate the disposal of waste into River Benue by Pure Biotech Company Limited, an ethanol plant located along Makurdi-Gboko road.
The committee is headed by the Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Dr. Godwin Oyiwona as Chairman with Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Kester Kyenge, Commissioner for Industry and Cooperatives, Barr. Rodney Agbatar as members.
Others members are two representatives of Benue Hike, Tourism and Conservation Foundation, Dr. Sewuese Apeverga and Barr. Ayua Sesugh, representatives of the National Environmental Standards Regulatory Agency, NESREA and the Director of Environment, Mr. T. R. Azaagee who is to serve as Secretary of the Committee.
Governor Ortom who inaugurated the committee Monday, April 17th, 2023 at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi directed the committee to immediately swing into action and submit an interim report on their findings within two days.
The Governor said his attention was drawn to the unfortunate situation and expressed displeasure that the company was draining waste directly into the River Benue thereby endangering public health and aquatic life.
“As Governor, I cannot fold my arms and allow the health of Benue people to be endangered. I would have taken outright steps to close the company but I want this committee to investigate and recommend immediate solutions and what should be done. I want an interim report submitted to me tomorrow. You have today and tomorrow to do that,” he stated.
Governor Ortom mandated the committee to, as part of its terms of reference, assess the parking arrangement within and outside of premises of the plant along the federal highway, noting that it should be captured in its long term report.
He further directed the committee to also extend a similar investigation to another ethanol plant located in Zaki Biam in Ukum Local Government Area to also make findings on its waste management.
The Governor used the opportunity to charge all Government agencies to live up to expectation and be alert to issues that happen around
He stressed that it was an indictment on Government agencies, who would have taken steps to address the matter given that such a plant generates waste and attention ought to have been given to where the waste was being disposed.
He assured the people of the state that appropriate sanctions will be meted on the company after the investigation if found wanting, stressing that regulations and standard best practices must be maintained.
Governor particularly commended the Benue Hike, Tourism and Conservation Foundation for raising the alarm on the waste disposal activities of the company and implored people of the state to also raise concerns on security and other sectors of governance so that the Government could take steps to address them.
The Governor refuted rumours being peddled that he has stakes in the company, stating that “Let me make it clear once again, that I own no shares and I am not interested in the ethanol plant. I don’t know the owners or who they are other than accepting them to operate in the State, because employment will be generated and wealth will be created and opportunities available for our people.
“The companies I founded, I have not hidden where they are and they do legitimate business in the State, anybody can verify. So Benue people should know that I am not part of that company,” Governor Ortom added.
In a response, the Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment and Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Godwin Oyiwona promised that the committee will do its best on the assignment to produce the desired result, stating that an interim, medium and long-term report will be drawn and submitted as directed by the Governor.
Chief Press Secretary
April 17th, 2023