By Ebi Perekeme
All hell has broken loose in the Niger Delta as members of the Gbaramatu Youth Council (GYC) in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, have warned Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) to hastily conduct the JIV over the recent oil spill within 24 hours or they will cripple the operations of the company in the their land.
The youths are taking the action because of CNL’s reluctance to carry out JIV test which was one of the points of reconciliation that was agreed upon between the Ijaw youths and the management of CNL.
The youths spoke through their President, Comrade Shadrach Ebikeme, during their tour to various communities on Wednesday (April 14, 2021) to inform all Itsekiri living in their land to vacate immediately, accusing them of conniving with CNL to frustrate the peace process that the Ijaw youths agreed upon.
According to him: “This tour is as a result of pressing issues affecting us in Gbaramatu. There is an oil spill in Gbaramatu which occurred over two months ago which has ravaged the entire kingdom and Chevron Nigeria Limited is said to be responsible but they are avoiding the subject. They are saying that it is not their pipe that is causing the issue contradicting the information we gathered which says it was caused by Chevron facility.
“Different meetings have been held and different publications has been made all to no avail. Infact, there was a protest as regards the oil spill which led to our mothers that were most affected protesting at the different flowstations and shut them down hence, call for Chevron to do clean up and JIV as well for over 14 days.
“As at last week, issues came up and with the help of our leaders, the Gbaramatu king and prominent men in the kingdom, our mothers were convinced to leave the Chevron facilities so they could conduct the JIV.
“Gbaramatu is one united kingdom and they always listen to authorities. So, the women obeyed and left the premises so that the JIV could be conducted but after two days or there about, Chevron said that if the JIV is to be conducted, the Itsekiris must be part of the process which we, the Gbaramatu people, disagreed with.
“We are at the suspected point where the spill occurred. If you look right, you will see Kokodiagbene community and just across it Benikrukru community. Amadinor and Idele are miles away from here. So, we cannot allow them to be part of the JIV. On that premise, we hold on to our desire that it is going to be only the Gbaramatu Team and no third party.
“On Monday, April 12th, 2021, there was a meeting in Asaba between the State Government, Chevron and our delegation. Our delegation was sent to that meeting and we made our issues known that this spill happened in Gbaramatu River and there will be no third party.
“Chevron is playing with our lives and they concluded on conducting the JIV with the Itsekiris inclusive at the end of it all that meeting was inconclusive as the Itsekiris were constantly pressing to be included. As a matter of fact they were saying that it is a tradition. That this particular line that the spill occurred they have been doing joint JIV with other communities and this one will not be different. Some of us stood up and addressed them that they might have been doing that but it will not be business as usual. That is, this time around, there will be no joint JIV and that this happened in Gbaramatu here. So if Chevron is to run any JIV it has to be with the Gbaramatu people alone. It should be a Gbaramatu thing and no third party. Our Fiyewei, Godspower Gbenekama, was present in that meeting. He made these same points and told Chevron and Delta State Government that was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chiedu Ebie, and said clearly that we will do just one JIV and no third party.
“In that meeting we sent strong signals. I told them that Chevron is playing with our lives. People’s sources of livelihood have been affected.
“Our major source of livelihood is fishing which the spill has affected seriously. People are sick as a result of the spill. People have been affected in different ways. We expect Chevron Nigeria Limited to even show some level of concern and it is sad that till this moment Chevron is still denying the spill. They could not think to bring in some relief materials to take care of the people before conducting a JIV.
“So, in that meeting, I told them that, in few days from now, few hours from now, If Chevron Nigeria Limited fail to conduct the JIV with just the Gbaramatu people we will shut down their operations to the point even their excort boats will not pass this river.
“At the meeting, our Fiyewei was able to address some issues with persons the Chevron put in front. The likes of Brikin, Samuel Idaigbo are being so tribalistic in nature that everything they are doing is just the Itsekiri agenda. As a matter of fact, they are fueling an ethnic crisis between the Ijaws and Itsekiris that will affect so many things. We want to use this medium to tell Chevron that if they think the people they put as leaders are working for them and as a result an ethnic crisis emerge, Chevron is going to suffer a whole lot of it. All their properties will be destroyed in this river.
“We will shut down all their operations including all other companies working under Chevron. We still beg the Delta State Government to do the needful. They step in, we air our views, we show them maps, distance has been seen. We are begging the State Government to tell Chevron to come and conduct the JIV.
“Today, we are on a mission commissioned by our King, His Royal Majesty, Oboro-Gbaraun II, traditional council and all sons and daughters of Gbaramatu. We have come to a conclusion that we cannot continue to have a friendship that will benefit just one party and keep hurting ourselves.
“The Ijaw people of Gbaramatu, precisely, are people with a good heart. We accommodate everybody and often time people take us for granted but now we are saying enough is enough, we are evacuating all the Itsekiris in our Kingdom.
“We are on a mission to evacuate all the Itsekiris in Gbaramatu communities, villages, everywhere. We no longer need the friendship and we, at the same time, are sending strong signal that if Chevron Nigeria Limited does not act urgently, we will shut down all their operations within 24 hours. This time, it is not going to be just women. We still want to tell the world that Omadino is an Ijaw community. Ijaghala is ours, Ikantu is ours and we are going to claim them,” he concluded.