OML 25: MOU with Shell divides host communities

OML 25: MOU with Shell divides host communities

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 7:38 am

Amanyanabo of Belema,  King Ibinabo Kalaoriye signing the Memorandum of Understanding for the re-opening of OML 25 at the Government House Port Harcourt on Monday.

…looming crisis yet to be averted
Okafor  Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Despite the purported signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by some individuals and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for the re-opening  of the closed flow station of Oil Mining  License (OML) 25
in Government House, Port Harcourt,on Monday, the crisis surrounding the controversial oilfield is far from over.
Part of the purported agreement is include the payment  of outstanding  funds owed host communities under the extant Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU).
In the M.O.U, Shell was mandated by Shell to pay into a dedicated account, the sum of N1.36 billion within two weeks for the  development of the communities.
Representative of Rivers State Governor and Secretary to the State Government,  Dr Tammy Danagogo,  Solicitor-General of Rivers State,  Mrs Florence Fiberesima,  Permanent Secretary,  Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Felix Odungweru superintended over the signing process on Monday at the Government House Port Harcourt.
The Settlement Agreement was signed on behalf of the communities by traditional rulers,  youth presidents, chairmen of Community Development Committees and Community Leaders on behalf of the host communities.   The signatories were purpotedly who signed the agreement include the  stakeholder communities of Kula,  Belema,  Offoin-Ama,  Ibie-Ama,  Boro and Opu-Kula .
Addressing  stakeholders at the meeting, Representative of Rivers State Governor and Secretary to the State Government,  Dr Tammy Danagogo said that fundamental reason for the meeting was to sign the agreement,  without  prejudice  to who holds different positions  in the communities.
Recall that ahead of the signing of the MOU in Government House representatives of three host communities of OML-25, had dissociated  themselves from the  event.


The paramount rulers, chiefs, elders and notable stakeholders of OML-25 host communities who accused the  Rivers State Government of peddling falsehood to hoodwink the unsuspecting public said Shell’s General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, cannot feign ignorance of the true identies of leaders of the host communities who were at the meeting with them.


“Inviting strangers, political allies of the Governor as well as some people from Kula to a meeting to resolve the lingering dispute and leaving out the host communities who led the shutdown of the oil facility is the height of bias and insincerity on the part of the Rivers State government.


They pointed out that as a lawyer, Governor Wike ought to know that States cannot adjudicate on such matter as it is on the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution and not a state affair.


Also, they reminded the public that the Oko Royal House of Kula is the bonafide owner of Belema Community that gave the acreage to Shell to build the oil facility.  


“In the light of the foregoing, we therefore disassociate ourselves from the outcome of the said meeting where the Host Communities purportedly agreed to sign an MOU on 1st of July 2019 with SPDC to re-open the oil facility.”

Traditional rulers from the host community of OML 25 addressing the press on their opposition to Shell return to OML 25

The statement was endorsed on behalf of the three host communties of Belema,Offoin-Ama and Ngeje by  King Bourdillon Allen Ekine, the Amanyanabo of Opukula (Old Shipping), Chief-elect Mpakaboari Welsch, Chief-elect Oputuboye Walter and Prince (Barr) Opunabo Ekine.

Others include: Engr. Alabo Fiala Okoye-Davies,the Spokesman of three host communities, His Royal Highness, Sibia Aaron Sukubo, Offo XIII, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, Spokesman of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Ibiosia Nath-Sukubo,Amb. Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo,Chief Ibinabo Daniel Kiliya, and Chief (Barr) Wapakaboari A. Gaga.

They accused the “state government that is supposed to concern itself with good governance of being desperate to champion an illegal course to forcefully re-open an oil platform that was peacefully shutdown based on the legitimate grievances of the Host Communities.”

The leaders also accused the Rivers Government of supporting injustice, marginalization, enslavement and impoverishment of the Host Communities by the oil multinational company.

They recalled the Governor’s exact words when he received officials of the Netherlands High Commission to Nigeria at the Government House during a courtesy call on Friday 10th May, 2019, ‘’Unfortunately Shell Dutch Company, they are part of the major culprit, what it does is to divide communities, to make sure that communities don’t work together, for them to have their way but it boomerangs at the end of the day.

” Shell does not want to obey or implement the Memorandum of Understanding they have with communities, Shell has that history of not implementing Memorandum of Understanding, even when they want to, they will go and find project that does not worth anything, it’s unfortunate, so we seek your cooperation that Shell does what it is supposed to do’’. 

The Monarchs and Chiefs further declared that it is surprising  that a Governor who received commendation for standing by the truth as a result of his statement against Shell, would suddenly turn around to collude with the same company to oppose their common struggle for emancipation from the decades of injustice meted out on them by Shell. 

The OML-25 host communities said it is worrisome that Shell and the Rivers State Government sent representatives to their meeting with the NNPC in Abuja on the 22nd of August 2017 to resolve the dispute, but decided to meet with the wrong people at the Government House in Port-Harcourt to resolve a matter that is already been handled by the federal government.

“In the light of the foregoing, we therefore disassociate ourselves from the outcome of the said meeting where the Host Communities purportedly agreed to sign an MOU on 1st of July 2019 with SPDC to re-open the oil facility.

” It should be noted that the Host Communities of OML25 known as the Belema Flow Station comprising Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje were not part of that meeting and will never be part of any such meeting called by the Rivers State Government on this matter as it does not fall within the purview of the state government. It is our view that the Rivers State Government can only play advisory role on this matter and not to mediate or adjudicate on it.”

The Chiefs and Elders claim that they have been inundated with credible information that the some prominent officials of the Rivers State have allegedly been offered $5 million in a bid to forcefully re-open the oil facility.

They called on the Federal Government, Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court, ICC to hold the Rivers State Government and SPDC responsible should any harm come to the women and children who are peacefully occupying the oil facility over legitimate grievances against Shell.

Members of the host communities of OML 25 protesting the move by Shell resume production

“We insist that we do not want SPDC any more in our land. We will continue to occupy the oil facility peacefully until our demands are met. Let the Rivers State Government and Shell come with their brute force, we are ready to die for this course. We remain resolute in our demands for the divestment of OML25 by SPDC taking into cognizance the right-of-first-refusal of the Host Communities.”

Recall be made that men,women and youths carrying placards of various inscriptions had staged peaceful protests Port Harcourt against Shell and the  Rivers State Government over Shell’s attempt to forcefully take over the shut oilfield by host communities

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Dr. Danagogo has said: “We are here  to sign the settlement  agreement between  Shell and the Kula communities.  We are here to resolve  the issues between Shell and our people .

“After this agreement,  other meetings  would be convened to determine  the issues of employment,  community  development and community contracts.  For now, the aim is for Shell to pay the funds that have accrued and for the flow station to  be  opened  for further  development in the communities “.
He said that the State Government is aware of those being sponsored  to stop the process of settlement,  peace and progress.
He noted that the Rivers State Government is determined  to conclude  the re-opening process.
The Rivers State Governments added that its actions  are based on the renewal of SPDC Operating License.  He said should the license be transferred to Belema Oil by NNPC, Rivers State Government will ensure implementation.
“We want our people to own oil blocks, but we don’t  want a situation where the operating license of others in our state are illegally  taken away. This is because other Rivers people are operating  in other states.  Let us approach  these issues in peace to achieve progress “.
General Manager,  External Relations of Shell Petroleum Development Company,  Igo Weli said the signing of the settlement agreement is a welcome development which will improve the reputation of Rivers State as a centre for  investments.
He said that peace and harmony between corporate entities and host communities is the way to go.
He said: “This is a good model and  template.  This is best practice.  We came here to find solutions because  we want the best for our communities.  There are always  constructive  ways and peaceful ways of resolving conflicts “.
Amanyanabo of Kula, King Kroma Eleki called for peace across  Kula communities  to pave  way  for the peaceful operation of OML 25.
He commended  the Rivers State Government  for ensuring  the peaceful resolution of issues in the area.
Amanyanabo of Belema,  King Ibinabo Kalaoriye who also signed the settlement agreement thanked the Rivers State Government  for the peaceful process that led to the agreement.

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