The People of oil-rich Ojobo community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, on Wednesday, December 18, stormed the Beneside Flow station operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, leading to a forceful shutdown of the facility.
The protest was coming two days after the community issued a 48hours ultimatum to SPDC to address issues contained in a pre-existing General Memorandum of Understanding, GMoU the community entered with SPDC.
The protesters some of whom were half-clad women in their hundreds stormed the facility in speed boats and wooden canoes in the early hours of yesterday and stationed themselves on available spaces on the twin houseboats meant for staff of the flow station.
Addressing newsmen at the scene of the protest, spokesperson for the protesters, Prince Doubra Baro flanked by a leader of the community, Ebi Brisibe, while giving reasons for the protest, stated that the community was demanding for immediate commencement of the Community Inter-dependency Electrification Project (CIEP – Gas Turbine), which they said was mutually agreed upon and signed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the community and SPDC in 2001.
He said: “We are demanding for the immediate release of the GMoU fund which is being withheld by a popular bank in connivance with SPDC and demand that SPDC should revisit and implement its abandoned legacy projects as well as the immediate employment opportunities for Ojobo indigenes into SPDC at all levels which has been denied since 1971 and that EMVAL and/or any other subsidiary company currently operating or working at Benisede Flow Station should stop forthwith and there should be no further award of contracts to non-indigenous contractors at Benisede.
“Educationally, we ask that specific scholarship quota be given to Ojobo Community indigenes that are in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, that the Tenancy Agreement between Ojobo Community and SPDC in 1971 be renegotiated for fairness, equity and justice, and that indigenous company owners be allowed to register with SPDC.
Other demands according to the community included an explanation as to when, how and where the purported June 2005 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Final Report of Benisede Catchment Area Field Development Plan (FDP) Phase II was carried out, a demand that due royalties are paid to Ojobo Community for the illegal Horizontal Drilling at Osuopele Oil Field (OML 46) since its discovery in 1977.
Efforts to speak with the Community Relations Officer in charge of the flow station, Mr. Tari Abide and the Team Leader simply identified as Mr. Peter were fruitless at press time as they were engaging leaders of the community in talks towards amicably resolving the situation.