Rivers communities protest, want Shell out of OML 25
Scores of youths and some elders from Belema, Offoin Ama and Ngeje communities in the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, on Tuesday, embarked on a peaceful protest in Port Harcourt over alleged plan to resume oil production at the OML 25 in the area.
The placard-bearing protesters said they were no longer ready to host oil giant, Shell Producing Development Company, insisting that the firm neglected the people of the area during its operation there for several years.
Some youths from the three oil producing communities had shut down a flow station in the area since 2017 and insisted that Shell must not operate in their communities.
Governor Nyesom Wike had during a meeting with stakeholders at the Government House on Saturday called for the settlement of the dispute between the communities and the SPDC to facilitate the resumption of oil production within seven days.
But the communities maintained that based on the alleged neglect they had suffered in the hands of Shell, they would not welcome SPDC to the OML 25.
The spokesman for Supreme Council of Kula Traditional Rulers, Alabo Fiala Okoye-Davies, urged the stated government not to support Shell’s resumption of operation at the OML 25.
“We remain resolute, we remain united and committed to the dream of economic liberalisation, education of our youths and emancipation from the shackles of slave masters, who have destroyed all our aquatic livelihoods with their oil pollution and wanting to sell their assets and hand us over to an unknown new slave master.
“We do not want Shell anymore in our land; we don’t know why this renewed pressure and interest between Shell and the Rivers State Government to forcefully invade our land. We do not have trust in the intervention of the state government, because its earlier intervention did not yield any good result.”
Describing the meeting called by the state government as unnecessary, Okoye-Davies pointed out that any issue concerning oil production and the communities was an exclusive preserve of the Federal Government.
He said, “It is our view that this meeting is on the exclusive list of the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is handling it. The Rivers State Government should wait for the new NNPC to come in and steer the meeting.
“We are calling on the Pan Niger Delta Forum, other oil producing communities and the Federal Government to come to our aid over this planned invasion to avoid massive crises being planned by Shell and its cohorts.”
In his remarks, the PANDEF spokesman, Anabs Sara-Igbe, backed the call for a joint visit by the state government, SPDC and other stakeholders to the host communities of the OML 25 with a view to resolving the disagreement.
Sara-Igbe stated that Niger Delta youths would not hesitate to shut down Shell facilities across the region if it failed to adhere to the wishes of the three communities in Akuku-Toru.