Tuesday, July 2, 2019 7:38 am
The paramount rulers, chiefs, elders and notable stakeholders of OML-25 host communities who accused the Rivers State Government of peddling falsehood to hoodwink the unsuspecting public said Shell’s General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, cannot feign ignorance of the true identies of leaders of the host communities who were at the meeting with them.
“Inviting strangers, political allies of the Governor as well as some people from Kula to a meeting to resolve the lingering dispute and leaving out the host communities who led the shutdown of the oil facility is the height of bias and insincerity on the part of the Rivers State government.
They pointed out that as a lawyer, Governor Wike ought to know that States cannot adjudicate on such matter as it is on the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution and not a state affair.
Also, they reminded the public that the Oko Royal House of Kula is the bonafide owner of Belema Community that gave the acreage to Shell to build the oil facility.
“In the light of the foregoing, we therefore disassociate ourselves from the outcome of the said meeting where the Host Communities purportedly agreed to sign an MOU on 1st of July 2019 with SPDC to re-open the oil facility.”
The statement was endorsed on behalf of the three host communties of Belema,Offoin-Ama and Ngeje by King Bourdillon Allen Ekine, the Amanyanabo of Opukula (Old Shipping), Chief-elect Mpakaboari Welsch, Chief-elect Oputuboye Walter and Prince (Barr) Opunabo Ekine.
Others include: Engr. Alabo Fiala Okoye-Davies,the Spokesman of three host communities, His Royal Highness, Sibia Aaron Sukubo, Offo XIII, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, Spokesman of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Ibiosia Nath-Sukubo,Amb. Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo,Chief Ibinabo Daniel Kiliya, and Chief (Barr) Wapakaboari A. Gaga.
They accused the “state government that is supposed to concern itself with good governance of being desperate to champion an illegal course to forcefully re-open an oil platform that was peacefully shutdown based on the legitimate grievances of the Host Communities.”
The leaders also accused the Rivers Government of supporting injustice, marginalization, enslavement and impoverishment of the Host Communities by the oil multinational company.
They recalled the Governor’s exact words when he received officials of the Netherlands High Commission to Nigeria at the Government House during a courtesy call on Friday 10th May, 2019, ‘’Unfortunately Shell Dutch Company, they are part of the major culprit, what it does is to divide communities, to make sure that communities don’t work together, for them to have their way but it boomerangs at the end of the day.
” Shell does not want to obey or implement the Memorandum of Understanding they have with communities, Shell has that history of not implementing Memorandum of Understanding, even when they want to, they will go and find project that does not worth anything, it’s unfortunate, so we seek your cooperation that Shell does what it is supposed to do’’.
The Monarchs and Chiefs further declared that it is surprising that a Governor who received commendation for standing by the truth as a result of his statement against Shell, would suddenly turn around to collude with the same company to oppose their common struggle for emancipation from the decades of injustice meted out on them by Shell.
The OML-25 host communities said it is worrisome that Shell and the Rivers State Government sent representatives to their meeting with the NNPC in Abuja on the 22nd of August 2017 to resolve the dispute, but decided to meet with the wrong people at the Government House in Port-Harcourt to resolve a matter that is already been handled by the federal government.
“In the light of the foregoing, we therefore disassociate ourselves from the outcome of the said meeting where the Host Communities purportedly agreed to sign an MOU on 1st of July 2019 with SPDC to re-open the oil facility.
” It should be noted that the Host Communities of OML25 known as the Belema Flow Station comprising Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje were not part of that meeting and will never be part of any such meeting called by the Rivers State Government on this matter as it does not fall within the purview of the state government. It is our view that the Rivers State Government can only play advisory role on this matter and not to mediate or adjudicate on it.”
The Chiefs and Elders claim that they have been inundated with credible information that the some prominent officials of the Rivers State have allegedly been offered $5 million in a bid to forcefully re-open the oil facility.
They called on the Federal Government, Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court, ICC to hold the Rivers State Government and SPDC responsible should any harm come to the women and children who are peacefully occupying the oil facility over legitimate grievances against Shell.
“We insist that we do not want SPDC any more in our land. We will continue to occupy the oil facility peacefully until our demands are met. Let the Rivers State Government and Shell come with their brute force, we are ready to die for this course. We remain resolute in our demands for the divestment of OML25 by SPDC taking into cognizance the right-of-first-refusal of the Host Communities.”
Recall be made that men,women and youths carrying placards of various inscriptions had staged peaceful protests Port Harcourt against Shell and the Rivers State Government over Shell’s attempt to forcefully take over the shut oilfield by host communities
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Dr. Danagogo has said: “We are here to sign the settlement agreement between Shell and the Kula communities. We are here to resolve the issues between Shell and our people .