14 February 2014, Port Harcourt – Traffic on the newly constructed Shell Location Road, Orazi, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was disrupted, yesterday, Thursday following a protest by youths of Orazi community over claims that Shell Petroleum Development Company, had seized a portion of their farmland.
The contentious piece of land on the Location Road, until recently, housed one of Shell’s oil well heads.
The leader of the protesting youths, Mr. Asonye Akaninwa, told newsmen that Shell had operated in the community for 40 years, adding that they came through their consultant, Emma Wike, late 2013 and told the community they were ending their operation in the area, and would, accordingly, hand over their land which they acquired on lease.
“Shell came to us through their consultant that they were coming to remove their well heads and formally end their operations on our land. They actually kept the promise, but to our surprise, rather than hand over our land which they took on lease, we are now seeing some construction work going on there, suggesting they may have sold the land to some person or organisation,” Akaninwa said.
The youths leader said a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, was signed between the community and Shell, a document which he said, was periodically renewed.
“We started smelling the rat when Shell, after reviewing the document in 2003, turned their back at us and refused to discuss further with us anything pertaining to the land. This, to us, is most unfortunate considering the negative impact their operations had on our environment,” he said.
The protesters, who numbered over 50, beat drums and also barricaded the two entrances to the site with palm fronds. Several appeals by the security operatives for the youths to remove the barricades fell on deaf ears as the protesters heightened their drumming amidst peaceful disposition.