Delta community threatens showdown with NPDC

Opuama20 July 2014, Warri – The Opuama/Ikpotogbene Community in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State has called on the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, to immediately halt oil exploration and exploitation activities in its community, alleging that the company did not follow due process before its ongoing operation in the area.

The community expressed disappointment with the apparent decision of the company to abandon the process initiated to fashion a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between the host communities and the NPDC.

Addressing journalists in Sapele, members of the Opuama/Ikpotogbene community under the aegis of Concerned Oloduwa Descendants also lambasted the company for “entering our native-land and commencing clearing as well as dredging work without conducting the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).”

Beside the central issues of an MoU and conducting EIA, the community listed a number of other demands in a statement, which the people insisted should be captured in acceptable terms of engagement between it and the NPDC.

The statement, titled simply as “Our Demand,” was signed by Mr. French O. Ukuto, Chief Samuel Peggy, Chief Stephen Ukulor, Engineer Elisha Ukuto as well as Mrs Alero Ugedi, Ati Reach, Mrs Evelyn Ukulor, DSP (retired) Abel Sule, Ebipade Elisha and Damage-Clark Aboh.

This is coming barely days after the NPDC, which is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was given a similar notice to quit their community for alleged illegal entry and commencement of operations in the locality.

Youths, women and elders of Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community in Warri North had last week issued an a seven-day ultimatum issued to the NPDC to vacate their community land or face the wrath of the people allegedly “being taken for a ride by the company that is suppose to be indigenous.”

Explaining the motive for the “quit notice” at a press briefing in Warri last weekend, the Polobubo (Tsekelewu) National Council (PNC) noted that the company had practically jumped by neglecting the basic things necessary to clear the way for peaceful exploration and exploitation operations by any oil company.

The National President of PNC, Ebilate Mac-Yoroki, who addressed the briefing flanked by several other leaders and representatives of the community, including youth, noted that the NPDC, which operates the divested stakes of the oil multinational; Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in their area, commenced operations without any attempt to get strike an agreement with the community.

The leaders and representatives of the people of the community further stressed that they had hoped that the NPDC would toe the line of the first oil operators in the community, Shell, which they said entered into some kind of MoU with the community until the company reportedly sold off its equities in the operation a couple of years ago.
*Omon-Julius Onabu-Thisday

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