OVER what they described as neglect, the people of Egebekiri community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have staged a peaceful protest against a multinational oil company, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, for alleged neglect of the community.
The community folks took their peaceful demonstration, which took place on the community river, to the Obama flowstation operated by the firm, resulting in the disruption of production in four oil wells, 5, 7, 9 and 12.
They are aggrieved that Agip had allegedly failed to pay them any form of royalties or related with them officially since the company began oil exploration in the community over 40 years ago.
The community lamented that despite a Supreme Court judgment of 13 July 2007 which confirmed them as the legal owners of the land hosting the oilfields, Agip had continued to give their rights and benefits to some persons in neighbouring communities.
One of the protesters, Egbe John, said the company had allegedly refused to recognize them as the landlords of the environment where it had been extracting oil from four oil wells in Obama field.
Egbe said, “It is 10 years now since the apex court’s ruling, and yet, Agip has yet to show that it honours the ruling of the court.
‘’The company has yet to recognize and deal with us as landlord of the environment where the company has continued to extract crude oil from four oil wells in their Obama oilfield.”
Also speaking, Head of Egebekiri community, Karibi MacDonald, said they were tired of writing letters to official quarters seeking intervention without any fruitful response. He stated, “And today, we are saying we are tired after writing over 30 letters to various departments including, the Bayelsa State Governor, his special advisers on oil and gas and security, headquarters and sector commands of the Joint Task Force, Commander, Central Naval Command. Continuing, he reiterated that they (the community) had written to all concern, up to Milan, the head office of Eni.”
In her comment, a daughter of the founder of the community, Ofabara M. Egebe, insisted that the community could no longer endure the neglect as it had nothing to show for being an oil-producing community.
She said, “The only little compensation made by Agip then was for destruction of economic trees, of which, we still have receipt of that payment. Nothing more has been given to our community by way of
contracts or royalties as landlord hosting four oil wells operated by Agip.
“We are tired of the suffering and injustices being meted out to us by
the firm. The development has informed our protest to let people know
about what we are going through as a people.’’
Several calls to the Public Relations Officer, Agip, Dan Onyeghala indicated that his mobile phone was not reachable.