Bayelsa community protests ‘neglect’

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The people of Egebekiri in Nembe Local Government of Bayelsa State yesterday protested the alleged neglect by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the protesters disrupted production in oil wells 5, 7, 9 and 12 at Obama Flow Station.

Chief Karibi MacDonald, an Egebekiri leader, said the oil company has not paid the community royalty since it started exploration over 40 years ago.

He said the community was tired of writing letters to the company.

MacDonald said a Supreme Court judgment of July 13, 2007 confirmed the community as the owner of the land hosting the oilfield.

He alleged that NAOC gave the community’s rights and benefits to residents of neighbouring villages and towns.

“It is almost 10 years now since that Supreme Court ruling, but NAOC is yet to honour the judgment.

“They are yet to recognise and deal with us as landlords of the environment where they extract crude from four wells,” MacDonald said.

Chief Egbe John, another protester, said: “Today, we are saying we are tired after writing over 30 letters to departments, the governor and his special advisers on oil and gas and security.

“We have also written to the headquarters and sector command of the Joint Task Force, and the commander, Central Naval Command.”

Mrs. Ofabara Egebe, a member of the community, said Egebekiri could no longer endure the alleged neglect, as it had nothing to show for being an oil-producing community.

“The only compensation made by Agip was for its destruction of economic trees. We still have receipt of that payment.

“Nothing more has been given to our community by way of contracts or royalties as landlords hosting four oil wells operated by Agip.

“We are tired of injustice by Agip. We are suffering. That was why we protested,” she said.

Contacted on the disruption of oil production, the spokesman for the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Maj. Abubakar Abdullahi, said the military had restored normalcy.

“Our mandate is clear, this is to protect oil and gas infrastructure.

“If any community has problems against any company, let them resolve it legally. JTF will not tolerate any threat to its mandate.

“We handled the matter professionally within our rules of engagement,’’ he said.

Mr. Fillippo Cotalini, the media relations manager of Eni, NAOC’s parent company, declined comments.

Culled from here

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