EPZ crisis: IYC warns NNPC against selective negotiation

An ijaw militant standing guard outside a building in the Niger Delta*Calls for investigations over arrest of journalists on investigative visit to EPZ site

Mkpoikana Udoma

20 November 2014, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Ijaw Youth Council, IYC Worldwide, says it has received protests claiming that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, promoters of the multi-billion dollars Export Processing Zone, EPZ, Delta Gas City are embarking on selective negotiation with protesting communities.

Spokesperson of the IYC, Comrade Eric Omare told SweetCrudeReports that by this single act, the NNPC may again ignite another round of totally unnecessary crisis and delay the flag-off of the project by President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said the IYC with dismay noted that the NNPC invited the protesting communities to a stakeholders meeting on Monday, the 17th of November, 2014 and excluded the Ijaw Communities of Youkiri and Sokebelou of Ogulagha Kingdom who claim to own substantial part of the land where the project is sited.

According to Omare, “The IYC regards this act by the NNPC as callous and insensitive to the fragile security situation generated by the EPZ crisis in the Niger-Deltas region. It is on record that these communities have been writing series of protest letters to the Presidency, the Ministry of Petroleum and the NNPC; hence, the Corporation cannot claim ignorance of their protests”.

“The IYC has it on good authority that there are plans to further disrupt the proposed EPZ flag-off if steps are not taken to bring all agitating communities such as Youkiri and Sokebelou Communities of Ogulagha Kingdom to the negotiating table. We wish to warn the NNPC to prevent unnecessary crisis in the Niger-Delta region as the existing peace in the region is a product of painstaking efforts by stakeholders. The IYC would hold the NNPC responsible for any further breach of the already fragile peace in the Niger-Delta arising from the EPZ project.”

The Spokesperson of the IYC also called for a thorough investigation into the arrest of some journalists who were on an investigative visit to the site of the Export Processing Zone last Sunday, while noting the efforts of journalists in the Niger Delta struggle.

“The IYC notes the sacrifice journalists have made towards the promotion of the Niger-Delta struggle for justice in the Nigerian state. It is on record that the gains made in the struggle for the emancipation of the Niger-Delta region would not have been possible without the extra ordinary sacrifice of journalists working in the Niger-Delta Region. Therefore, we call on security agencies to carry out a thorough investigation to avoid any hindrance to journalist in the performance of their duties in the future,” he said.

It will be recalled that the flag-off of the EPZ project which is to be done by President Goodluck Jonathan, has already been rescheduled twice due to community issues arising from the protest by Ijaw people of Gbaramatu and Ogulagha in Delta State.

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