Hundreds of indigenes from 14 communities in Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas in Bayelsa State at the weekend barricaded the offshore facilities belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to protest their neglect by the oil firm.
The angry stakeholders, led by their Chiefs, traditional rulers, youth leaders, women and community leaders, took their protest to the facilities of Oil Mining Licence (OML) 77-3D located in their territorial waters.
The protesters, who hail from the communities of Odioma, Ibidi, Ewoma, Okpoma, Twon Brass, Beletiama, Liama, Diema, Okumbiribeleu, Opu-Okumbiri, Oginibiri and Sangana said the company should stop its operation and address their grievances to avoid breakdown of law and order.
The aggrieved residents, who carried placards, said they decided to embark on the peaceful protest after all their efforts to get the company address their demands failed to yield expected results.
They insisted that it was abnormal for an oil multinational to continue its operation without reaching proper understanding with its host communities.
The protesters, who carried placards with inscriptions such as, “Shell Stop Work”, and “Consult the host communities”, among others, chanted solidarity songs and vowed to continue with the demonstration until the company resolved their issues.
Some of the Chiefs, who were conveyed by speedboats to the facilities were Chief Ikioye Ebinyo George, Brass; Chief Ghandi Elei, Egweama community; Chief Innocent-Nainghabofa Konteinbofa, Chairman Odioma Council of Chiefs; Chief Ellai, Chief Ambuse Daufa and Chief Percy Wemi Komie, among others.
Stating the reasons for the protest, a former Youth Secretary, Brass, Michael Samuel, said Shell began its offshore operations without consulting 14 communities surrounding their facilities.
Michael wondered why a company as big as Shell would sideline traditional rulers, youths and women as well as other stakeholders in their operations.
He lamented that the company instead of consulting all stakeholders, established a relationship with an individual, who was after his personal interest.
He said: “We have exhausted all avenues to get the company listen to our demands to no avail. We went to Port Harcourt in Rivers State many times to meet with the management of Shell on this issue without getting positive results.
“This protest is to tell Shell that we won’t tolerate the way they came into an area surrounding our communities. We want the company to know that we have stakes in what they are doing and they can’t treat us this way. We are peace-loving people and we want the oil firm to come and hold discussions with us”.
Also, a community leader from Odioma, Obolo Benjamin, warned Shell against continuing with its operations without consulting the communities.
He said: “SPDC is operating offshore across 14 communities without consulting us. The company did not give us the right of way. The oil company decided to use one person to sideline, neglect and marginalise every individual around our territory. He collected what is due us to himself alone.
“Could you imagine that Shell is operating in an area without going to the king and youths for development. All of us in the communities including the chiefs came out to express our grievances”.
Addressing the protesters, a personnel, who identified himself as Oscar One thanked the residents for their peaceful disposition saying their demands would be conveyed to the management of the company.