Sunday, April 19, 2020 11:32 am
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has threatened to cripple Nigeria’s oil production as well as distribution of refined petroleum products across the country if 21 of its members currently being held by the Police and Rivers State Government were not released before the end of today, Sunday.
“The Federal Government and relevant authorities having failed to secure the release of these 21 comrades on legitimate national assignment, the leadership of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), having no other option regrettably direct all our members to commence the withdrawal of services as follows;
“1. By midnight Sunday 19th April 2020, all Export facilities will stop operation as well as suspension of Production & Maintenance Services Reports.
“2. That by 12 noon on Monday 20th April all our members will withdraw all forms of services relating to crude oil production, refining, distribution and supplies.
“This directive will remain in force until assurances of our members’ safety are guaranteed by Federal Government. We are in consultation with our units, branches and other sister Unions who will also be joining the action as the safety of our members is our uttermost priority” PENGASSAN said in statement signed by Comrade Ndukaku M. Ohaeri, its President and Comrade Lumumba Okugbawa, General Secretary.
The 20 oil PENGASSAN members working for ExxonMobil were arrested by the Rivers State Police Command on 16 April over allegations that they violated the State Executive Order on the prevention of movement to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus in the state.
Governor Nyesom Wike had indicated last Thursday that he will ensure the prosecution of the oil workers for violation of State Executive Order.
But PENGASSAN said the workers who were arrested at the border between Rivers and Akwa Ibom are still being detained under inhabitable and inhuman conditions and denied access to basic necessities of life at Elekhahia Stadium.
It added that all entreaties to the Rivers State Government to release the workers because they were on essential duties which is for the economic interest of the country have been rebuffed.
The Union also regretted that the Federal Government who through the Presidential Task Force on the COVID-19 Pandemic cannot guarantee access to work locations for its members who have volunteered to sacrifice their lives and comfort to salvage the Country from the impending economic crisis occasioned by this world-wide.