Nigeria’s oil production output suffered a setback yesterday as members of the host communities to Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30 in Delta state took over two flow stations in protest of alleged lack of faith by the operators of the lease.
While men, women and youths from Orogun and Kokori, under Cluster 4 of OML 30 sealed off and occupy the access into the Erhoike Flowstation in Kokori, Ethiope East council area of the state, Isoko women from Oleh community in Isoko South council area occupied the Olomoro Flowstation.
However, the experiences at the two protest sites were not the same. While the protesting women at the Olomoro Flowstation had a rough encounter with the security men at the facility; three protesters were reportedly beaten up by soldiers and their leader arrested, the protest at Erhoike was unchallenged.
The host communities said they were expressing anger over various alleged inhuman activities of the operators of the lease; Heritage Energy Operational Services (HEOS), which include some certain unfulfilled commitments to them and an to attempt circumvent a direct interface with them (communities), through the use of a non-government organization, thereby bypassing the community development board, which is the registered body mandated by the communities to interface on their behalf.
Speaking on the reason for the protest at Erhoike, the secretary of Cluster 4 under the lease, Pastor Adese Andy alleged that the operators of OML 30, Heritage had been contacted and had been given a 7 day ultimatum to address their various grievances, adding that the flowstation would remain inactive until the communities’ call is heeded.
“Heritage should listen to us and hear our cry because the host communities have suffered enough. If we are to enumerate what we have passed through in the past decade, which our forefathers also suffered and this coming generation is about to experience.
“If they don’t come, we will continue to be here and there’ll be no operation until they answer us. As we speak now, this flowstation is not operating, it is shut down. Not just here, but the entire OML 30 fields. I just read the communiqué and you saw that all the president-generals of all the fields signed.
One of the community youth leaders in Erhoke-Kokori, Mr. Oghenero Onuhwo who spoke to our reporters said apart from the Community Development Board, CDB, they don’t recognize and will not have anything to do with any other body whether NGO or its type, saying that CDB has always represented their interest to the fullest.
In Olomoro, the Oleh Community Development Committee, CDC, Chairman Chief Ekokobe Obaro said right from inception, they have always been sideline as there was no Oleh name has appeared in the operations of the oil firm and not even in their map when Oleh produce about 80% of the oil coming from the area.
Another woman leader, Mrs. Evwoma Ochweru, from Oleh host community, said their women neither their youths feel the impact of Heritage Oil Services Company, no empowerment, scholarship for their children or any plan to enhance the development of their host communities.
“When we got here around 4am we sat down and that was when soldiers came over to attack us. They injured three women, we have rushed them to the hospital. They took our women leader away in their vehicle and before they took her away, they beat her thoroughly. They broke our chairs and the boy who brought canopy here was also beaten very well”, Mrs. Ochweru said.
However, Chief Obaro confirmed that the Commanding Officer of the soldiers, whose name could not be obtained at the time of filing this report, had ordered that the arrested women leader should be released to returned to where she was taken.
Efforts to get a reaction from the company was yet to yield a reaction at the time of filing this report as a response being expected from Heritage’s Executive in charge of Community Relations, Mr Richard Cutts, was not received.