30 January 2012, Sweetcrude, WARRI – IJAW oil communities in Delta and Bayelsa states, Monday morning, stormed the Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPC, office, at Edjeba, near Warri, Delta State, protesting alleged “insensitivity and neglect” by the oil firm following the December 21, 2011, Bonga oil spill.
The protesters, including men, women and youths, carried placards, bearing inscriptions such as, “Save Our Souls, send us relief materials”, “Stop discrimination/ intimidation on us”, “No small and or big communities treat all equal”, “Imminent violence by Oil spill, victims SPDC is adamant to their obligatory duties”, “SPDC Bonga (EA) Spill has damaged our Rivers”, “SPDC ignore Bonga Oil Spill victims now dying in silence”.
Corporate Media Relations Manager of SNEPC, Mr. Tony Okonedo, who spoke to Vanguard on phone, said he was aware of the protest by some communities, demanding for relief materials over alleged oil spill.
He said the protesters had already dispersed and since the company was not disinclined to dialogue, it was already discussing with them on their grievances.
On the Bonga oil spill, Okonedo, said the company was waiting for the result of the scientific investigation into the oil leak, which could be out in the next few days, before making further comments on the claim by some Niger-Delta communities.
Secretary General of one of the protesting communities, Kuku-gbene in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr. Prus Puopu told newsmen, “Since the oil spillage happened, it affected our community a lot and Shell has not compensated or sent us relief materials. They should pay attention to our communities. We want them to call us for negotiation; they have been calling other communities for negotiations, so we want them to call us also.”
His Ebibogbene counterpart, Mr. Etimadimene James said, “The oil spillage ravaged our community. Now, we can’t fish in the river, our water has been polluted, the incident has hampered our economics activities of fishing and farming”.
“Oil is still flowing to other communities in the riverine area, so SPDC should look for a way to stop the flow”, he added.
Chairman of Ideikegbene community, John Warenu, asserted that the protesters would occupy the company’s gate until it agreed to negotiate with them.
Solicitor to the affected communities, Barrister Clarkson Aribogha, however, pleaded with the protesters to return to their various homes, assuring that “the management of SPDC will meet and negotiate with them”