08 March 2012, Sweetcrude, UYO – A team of policemen from Mbo Division in Akwa Ibom State and protesting youths on Thursday clashed at the Stubb Creek marginal oil field operated by Universal Energy Resources Ltd in the area.
The hundreds of youths who blocked the access road to the oil field were dispersed when police shot sporadically to disperse the protesters.
The gunshots sent the protesters scampering to safety while 10 of the youth leaders were arrested and taken to the Mbo Divisional Police Headquarters.
Following the police shooting, one person sustained gunshot injuries and was taken to a private clinic in nearby Oron, also in Akwa Ibom.
The Divisional Police Officer, Superintendent of Police Anietie Eyo, who led the operation confirmed the arrest of 10 youths and said that they had been transferred to the Area Command Headquarters in Oron.
“Yes we arrested 10 youths and have transferred them to the Area Command in Oron where they are currently being detained.
“We are expecting reinforcement to fortify the manpower that we have to forestall further escalation of the situation here; that is the order I have from the Area Commander.”
The youths, it was gathered, were protesting delays in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the oil firm and the communities, and the exclusion of the communities around the oil field from development projects by the oil firm.
Universal Energy Resources is a joint venture between Akwa Ibom government and a Chinese Oil firm, SINOPEC, to develop the gas resources at the Stubb Creek oil field for power generation.
The youths had disrupted operations at the oil field last month when they sacked oil workers from the field over the refusal of the oil firm to sign the MOU.
Mr Eteka Etim, President of Mbo Youths Development Association, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the oil firm had operated for six years without an MOU, and that the use of force on youths was not acceptable.
“I was conducting a very peaceful demonstration without using any arms or ammunition, surprisingly I wonder how a DPO in the division of Mbo will just come up and start shooting gun, harassing people, chasing us away for the peaceful demonstration we were doing.
“Meanwhile, we were still calm; they had to pick and arrest 10 of my members and shot one, which I don’t know why up till now.
“So, for that reason and the act they performed, the struggle will continue till we get to the end.’’
The clash compelled oil workers and contractors to withdraw from the field as no activity was going on when a NAN correspondent visited the site.