Oil producing communities in Rivers at war over protest to SPDC

By Uche James

One of the major stakeholders in the Oil Mining Lease (OML 25) in Kula Kingdom of Akuku-Toru local government area of Rivers State, the Opusingi Group of Houses, has declared that agitation by oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta over perceived neglect by multinational companies is not new.

In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, the Opusingi Group of Houses recalled that in 1996, the people of Elelenwo community in Obio/Akpor local government area of the state, shut down a Flow Station belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), through a peaceful protest over perceived neglect by the oil giant.

The statement, which was signed by the Public Relations Officer of Opusingi Group of Houses, Comrade Adumogba Dumo Sokari, said the peaceful protest led to the employment of members of the community as staff of SPDC, including the company’s current General Manager, External Relations, Mr. Igo Weli.

It reads in part: “Agitation by oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta over perceived neglect, administrative injustice, impoverishment and environmental degradation by oil multinationals is not a new thing in the region.

“Such peaceful action which often lead to shutdown of oil facilities is seen as a veritable means of ventilating grievances by the host communities rather than taking to violence.

“In 1996 the people of Elelenwo Community in Obio/Akpor local government area led a peaceful protest against Shell which led to the shutdown of Shell Flow Station in the community over perceived neglect by the oil multinational company.

“The shutdown of the Elelenwo Flow Station forced Shell to employ its General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli who is a member of the host community.

“Igo Weli was the brainchild of the shutdown of the Elelenwo Flow Station which also led to the employment of 4 members of his family by Shell.

“It is therefore unthinkable that Igo Weli who was a product of a protest over the injustice of Shell against his community would allow the same injustice to be meted out on the Host Communities of OML25 under his watch as General Manager of Shell.

“Igo Weli has no moral justification whatsoever to oppose the agitation of the Host Communities of OML25 because his employment by Shell and that of his siblings were based on community agitation and not based on merit.

“We expect Igo Weli to advice the top management of Shell to address the core demands of the Host Communities of OML25 in the interest of peace rather than opposing the wishes of the people.”