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Aggrieved Ijaw youths shut down activities at Sterling Energy oil field in Bayelsa over allege neglect of host community.

 

The aggrieved youths from the Anyama Clan of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) and Onuebum Community of Ogbia Local Government area of Bayelsa besieged the site of an appraisal oil well project in Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 2005 located in the community.

According to the Youths, the owner of the asset, Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) allegedly showed disregard to the State Government directive on resumed negotiations with host community and compliance with local, state and Federal laws including the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The angry youths, numbering over a hundred, arrived at the dredging site of the project at about 9.30 am and shut down operations and dispersed the workers.

They were also supported by Onuebum youths led by the Chairman and secretary of the Onuebum Oil and Gas Task Force, Mr. John Bailiff Egapekpar and Engr. Ebitimi Egbenpere respectively

The Youths, chanting Ijaw solidarity songs and displaying placards with inscription such as “SEEPCO comply with section 12 of the EIA Act”, IYC demand implementation of section 236 of the PIA for Onuebum community “, “We reject your non-compliance with Petroleum Industry Act” and “Desist from your violatory operations in Onuebum”.

The IYC Chairman (Ayama Clan), Comrade Samson Insurance Lucky, said : “We were in Onuebum to counter the anomaly of the Sterling Energy in the areas of the non-conduct of EIA, the disrespect to the Onuebum community and disregard for extant laws.

“We call on the company to resume discussion with the community and respect the relevant laws. The company have also rebuffed and shunned efforts by the IYC to assist in the resolution of the contentious issues.”

Speaking on the development , the Traditional leaderss of the Onuebum community led by the Paramount Ruler, HRH Obanema Kine Kobolota Osain, Ogo XVI and his Deputy, High Chief John Alpheus Edede, Opalama XIII confirmed to that despite the protest staged by the IYC and the Youths of the Community, the State Government should call the Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) to order.

The Paramount Ruler said the community has been on the part of peace and prevailing on the youths to avoid acts that will throw the community into violence.

“When they invaded our ancestral land and desecrated our forest and burial sites, we retrained the youths against acts that will instigate quarrel. The company and it’s agents are behaving as if they are above the laws.

” What we are asking is for the company to conduct EIA and respect existing laws. Instead of complying, they embarked on divisive tactics. They have disregarded the community authority. We call on the State Government to call the Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) to order.”

He also called on the Federal Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Environment and Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to call SEEPCO to comply with the PIA, Environmental Impact Assessment Act and Local Content Laws in line with industry best practices.

The Deputy Paramount Ruler, also despite the directive of the state government for the company to engage the community before further actions.

“They are operating without the consent of the community. We ask them to come and see the community,but they refused.

“We demanded for the EIA and the work plan. But they ignored the community. Because we love peace and don’t want violence. They have continued to clear project site, mounting perimeter fence , commenced dredging and are also dropping stones, materials and blocking of the community’s economic creek with approval from the host community.”

Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Paramount Ruler on Political and Special Duties, Chief Samuel Ogoniba, called on the agents of the State government to intervene and up their game in the intermediary role,” we don’t want violence.They should prevail on the company to follow normal protocol and not ignore the community.”

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