Following the contamination of the Osun river by activities of illegal miners in the state, a Non-Governmental Organisation, Urban Alert, has alerted that over two million residents of the state are at risk of lead poisoning.
The group in its report, tagged #Safeosunriver done in conjunction with Levite Foundation for Community Development, said the level of heavy metals, including, lead, mercury and cyanide, present in the river is more than 500 per cent above the permissible level.
Addressing journalists in Osogbo, Urban Alert’s team leader, Anthony Adejuwon the river traverse over 20 communities in the state and five other states in the Southwest, saying the situation must be checked now else residents may begin to experience live threatening ailments.
His statement titled, High-Level Chemical Poisoning of Osun River: A Cultural Identity Contaminated and Defaced, reads, “Sometimes in 2018, water in the Osun River, which took its source from Igede-Ekiti, Ekiti State and flows through Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and the Lagos States suddenly changed colour from its normal transparent appearance to brown. Initially, residents of Osun State thought the change was a result of a flood, which will only be a temporary issue, but this scary brownish colour has persisted for more than three years without any hope for remediation by the government.
“As an organization driven by facts with a foundation firmly rooted in data, we carried out Geographical Information Analysis and Laboratory Tests to ascertain the cause of Osun River pollution and affirm the elements present in the water. Our scientific examinations revealed that the Osun River is being polluted by the activities of gold miners in some parts of Osun State. A further physicochemical and microbiological test has revealed that the Osun River has been heavily contaminated with mercury, lead, cyanide and other injurious elements.
“No doubt, the harmful contamination of the Osun River due to mining activities has put the lives of over 2million residents of Osun State in danger. Traditionalists, Osun devotees, local and foreign tourists of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove and over 20communities making use of the Osun River are exposed to cancer and other deadly ailments like brain and kidney failure, hearing loss, growth retardation, anaemia, impaired vision, paralysis and death.
“It is disheartening to state that the government at all levels has remained incapacitated, claiming various reasons why it is difficult to end this life-threatening situation whose negative impacts would lead to the death of many in a few years, if not currently happening.
“We are saddened by the destruction of the identity of Osun State, the cultural identity of the people of Osun State and the ecosystem, with no regard for the tradition, business and wellbeing of millions of Osun State residents.
“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Osun State Government, civil society organizations and the international community to save the lives of over 2million residents of Osun State whose lives directly or indirectly depend on the 213km river, which currently houses five (5) water dams, Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove (UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Monuments).
“We urge all stakeholders to add their voices to Save Osun River to protect the environment, identity, heritage, lives, and generations yet unborn”.