Port Harcourt — Yorla Oilfield Communities in Ogoniland has rejected plans by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, to renew its Oil Mining Lease, OML, 11 licence, warning that the people of Ogoni would fight the oil firm spiritually.
The Chairman of Yorla Oilfield Communities, Chief Lebari Mike-Lube Nwidobie, reacting to the court judgment obtained by SPDC to get the Federal Government to renew the OML11 licence, covering oil and gas exploration in Ogoniland, said Shell is an enemy of Ogoniland and cannot be accepted by the people to do business in the land.
Nwidobie, who accused SPDC of obtaining a kangaroo court judgment, said the judgment was not only laughable but criminal. He warned that Ogoni by all means will resist any attempt for Shell to return to Ogoniland.
He attributed the issue of cult killings and insecurity currently bedeviling Ogoniland, to the elimination of the entire leadership class of Ogoniland in the 1990s, which according to him was instigated by Shell.
He said: “My people have said that Shell cannot come back to Ogoniland for obvious reasons. In the Abacha era, Shell supported the military to sack Ogoni communities. They sacked Kpean, they sacked Kaa. They raped our women, destroyed our heritage; destroyed our communities. Our people were living in the forests, the bushes.
“For nine months our people were living in the bushes in Ogoniland. And the ICC, the UN came in and said Shell should leave Ogoniland because of the atrocities they committed.
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“We lost our leaders because of Shell. We lost Badey, we lost Kobani, we lost Orage; we lost Saro-Wiwa. We lost all our leaders. Up till today it is still affecting Ogoni because we lost the leadership that was not allowed to do proper handover of leadership to the succeeding generation. There was no tutelage, no grooming of the today’s Ogoni leaders. That is why we have all these problems in Ogoniland.
“We will pray to God and God will answer our prayers. We will fight Shell spiritually. They can’t take anybody’s blood again. Now we are wiser. And we will stand them, and will stop them.”
Nwidobie commended President Muhammadu Buhari for not renewing OML11 licence for SPDC, and advised the President to make the bid open for other companies exception of Shell.
“It is his constitutional right for him as the President of this country and as the minister not to renew the licence of any company that is asking for renewal. So why is Shell fighting? Why is Shell being desperate? They said they had left Ogoniland, so why again are they going to court procure nebulous judgment?
“The Presidency should throw the bid open for other companies. We are bidding too. If we bid and we win, so be it. But that process should be done without Shell’s involvement,” he stated.
Meanwhile, SPDC has maintained that the company has no plans to return to Ogoniland for any oil exploration activities.
SPDC Media Relations Manager, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, explained that SPDC cannot return to Ogoni field, since it has already handed over the operatorship of the field to NPDC since 2012.
“In 2012, SPDC handed over the operatorship of the Ogoni field, a fraction of OML 11, to National Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the exploration and production subsidiary of NNPC.
“The recent court ruling upholding the right of the SPDC JV to the renewal of OML 11 does not change the operatorship of the Ogoni field by NPDC, SPDC formally ceased oil and gas exploration in Ogoni in 1993 with no plan to return,” SPDC said.