31 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The oil firm which has been in the centre of controversy over the planned resumption of oil exploration and production activity in OML 11 oilfields, RoboMicheal Limited, has announced that over 95 percent of the people of Ogoni, have accepted them to begin operation in the area.
The company also described as false the allegations by the Publicity Secretary of MOSOP, Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, that the company used the military to forcefully invade Ogoni and hold meetings with some chiefs on the 27th December 2017.
Speaking to our correspondent in an exclusive interview, a Director in RoboMicheal Limited, who pleaded for anonymity, disclosed that the company having gotten the operatorship license to resume oil exploration in Ogoni, was invited by Ogoni Council of Chiefs to present its template and plans for the people.
He said over 1,500 Ogoni indigenes made up of Conference of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, COTRA, led by its Chairman, King Saunu Baridam, National Youth Council of Ogoni People, NYCOP, led by its President, Dr. Young Nkpah, MOSOP Steering Committee, chiefs, elders and women were already seated at the hall before the officials of the company arrived the venue for the meeting.
According to him, “We were invited by the people of Ogoni to come and present our templates on what we will do for them and how they will work with us.
“If we were not invited, how is it possible for us to gain access to a volatile place like Ogoni? Even before we got to Bori, the hall was already filled to the brim with thousands of people since 10am, while we arrived by 2pm.
“We went with security operatives attached to our company. The Police, the SSS and the Army were there, why did they only mentioned the Army? The military is a strong arm of the government that should not be cajoled.
“MOSOP steering committee was there, the meeting was even chaired by the Deputy President of MOSOP, COTRA Chairman, King Baridam was there, kings, chiefs, elders, women and even the youths were there. NYCOP President, Young Nkpah was there.
“They were all cheering us and expressing happiness that oil production will resume in the area after 26 years. They told us how they have been suffering for the past years and how they really want a company to come to the land.”
The Director of Operations, RoboMicheal Limited, also debunked the allegations that the company was being backed by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in a bid to return to Ogoni for oil production.
“RoboMicheal only has operatorship license to resume oil exploration in Ogoni. We are not coming to kill or divide Ogoni, but to build, unite and develop the place. We have been talking with MOSOP President although he has refused to see us.
“It is a big lie that we are being backed by SPDC, even SPDC is not friendly with us; There is a letter that SPDC is supposed to give us, but up till now they have not released the letter to us,” the company said.
Similarly, the Nigerian Army, Six Division, Port Harcourt has also debunked the allegations that troops invaded and occupied the secretariat of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, in Bori, Ogoniland.
Army Deputy Public Relations Officer, Col. Aminu Ilyasu, said it was unfair that some elements would target to mud-sling the Military in an event that was organised and attended by the people of Ogoni.
Ilyasu said, ” How did the Army invade Ogoni? There was no occupation of MOSOP secretariat by any soldier. How is it even possible to send 10 military trucks and two armoured personnel carrier, which is about 110soldiers to Ogoni just because one company wants to hold a meeting with the people?”
Meanwhile, the Conference of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, COTRA, has called for more investors interested in investing in Ogoni to join efforts with the federal government and the Ogoni people to ensure the remediation and restoration of the ruined Ogoni environment.
Public Relations Officer of COTRA, Chief Marcus Dekil, said at a meeting with RoboMicheal Limited, the company said it was committed to the development of Ogoni as it identified with the undeserved plight of the people.
Dekil said the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Madam Arobo Michael Ibrahim, told them that RoboMichael Limited was wholly indigenous and had been granted operatorship license to operate and develop the Ogoni fields of OML 11, and that they were consulting the people to ensure understanding that would ensure that all the parties work together for the common good of all Ogonis.
He demanded apology and a retraction from the Publicity Secretary Of MOSOP, Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, for propagating lies that the Ogoni Secretariat was invaded and occupied by security personnel and Ogoni traditional rulers.
He described as a shame that some misguided and ill-informed elements in MOSOP would allege that their own traditional rulers invaded a property that is all Ogoni’s.