Traditional rulers from the host community of OML 25 addressing the press
…SPDC accused of manipulating Govt Officials to forcefully resume oil exploration
.,.Men,women and youths of host communities in peaceful protest against SPDC
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The hope of the early resumption of the drilling of oil in the shutdown Operating Mining Licence, OML-25 in Kula, Akuku-Toru local government area of Rivers State remain bleak as the three host Communities of Kula, Belema,Ngeje and Offoin-Ama in joint resolution on Tuesday vowed not to vacate occupied oilfield despite Governor Nyesom Wike’s recent seven days ultimatum.
The three host communities in a joint press Conference, ( the second within 5 days ) addressed by their spokesman, Chief Fiala Okoye-Davies, in Port Harcourt on Tuesday said they have resolved not to allow operation of the OML-25 within seven days as that will amount to allowing their enslavement by the current operator of the oil field, the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC to continue.
Scores of women and youths from the host communities joined their tradtional rulers and chiefs at Hotel Presidential ,venue of the press conference ,in a peaceful protest carrying placards with insciptions like: “We say No to Shell”,” Kula kingdom say Shell Must Go”,”Our Mumu don do,Shell Must leave our land.”
Others placards read” Kula men and Women say No SPDC “OML-25 is under Exclusive Legislative list”,”OML-25 is Before Federal government, not state” and “We must Liberate our land from Shell”, ” Why sudden interest in OML-25 she Ogoni case of 26 years remained “, among others accompanied with chants.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had on Saturday June 22 directed all parties in the dispute relating to Oil Mining License (OML) 25 to within 7 days resolve all contending issues and reopen the oil facility.
The Governor also directed the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo to convene a meeting of all key stakeholders in the presence of Security Service Commanders , for the host communities to outline their grievances to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and for the company to address such development concerns.
Addressing the meeting, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said he called the meeting because the closure of OML 25 is negatively affecting Federal, State and Local Government funds.
He said: “OML 25 has been shutdown for one reason or the other. Some persons in the community are hauling insults at me. No matter the insult, nothing will make me not to perform my duty to the area.”
However, the meeting that would have been the first among the disputing parties was bungled due to alleged poor management by the state government officials led by Dr Danagogo, SSG.
The Traditional rulers also vowed that they were not holding any negotiations again outside Kula kingdom because of the alleged claim by SPDC that it has spent about $300billion in developing the host communities.
We want furher negotiations with the Governor on OML-25 to take place host in Kula with the communities so that SPDC can showcase the so-called development it has done in Kula kingdom for the past 40 years”.
The women protesters
They raised alarm to the Federal government and NNPC alleging, “Shell is now using some government officials to planned invasion of their Communities to forcefully bring the company back to enslave us for another 20 years,but we have unitedly resolved that SPDC will not operate OML-25”.
On his part, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, an elder statesman and spokesman for Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said the group stand by the host communities’ decision along as they remain peaceful are not vandalising pipelines.
“The state government should resolve the Ogoni issue that has stopped SPDC for more 26 years before the present issue that is just about 2 years ago.”