…Send strong warning to Government, Aiteo
Members of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Kalabari Se-Ikpangi, have issued a strongly worded warning to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Rivers State Government, and Aiteo E&P Ltd to include the Kalabari people ,generally, and the Kula people, particularly, among the communities to receive relief materials and then cleanup, following the spill that occurred at OML 29, Well 1, Santa Barbara River.
Speaking in a world press conference which held in Okpo community town hall, in Asari Toru LGA of Rivers State, on 20th December, 2021, members who appeared all dressed in black outfits, decried the marginalisation the people have been subjected to as a result of the neglect.
In his speech, the chairman of the group – Comrade Edward Asikitamunoprim, said: “The news of a major oil spill in OML 29 Well 1, along Owuangain community in Kula, AKULGA, has been making the rounds, yet those who ought to take responsibility in ameliorating the worsening condition of the affected inhabitants of the community (Owuangain) are busy playing the blame game; accusing fathoms of sabotage while conducting itself in a manner suggestive of pitching the government and the peace loving people of Kula against the government of Bayelsa State and their Basambiri neighbours in Opu Nembe.
“You will recall that the Minister of State for Petroleum, in the company of the management of Aiteo E&P Ltd, had gone on an assessment visit to Basambiri, a community in Bayelsa that is less affected by the oil spill and had given out relief materials, whereas, the inhabitants of Owuangain community, the host of OML 29 Well 1, whose only means of livelihood have been seriously devastated by the spill, are left in despair.”
He said the act is a deliberate provocation to pitch the Rivers State Government and the Kula people against the Government of Bayelsa State and the Basambiri people of Opu Nembe.
He asserted that the Owuangain community situated along Owuanga Toru (Santa Barbara) is owned and inhabited by the indigenous people of Kula, and politically, it is Unit 9 of Ward 16 in Akuku Toru LGA of Rivers State.
“We wish to state categorically that the Supreme Court and the Federal High Court judgments in Suit Nos: SC 106/2009 and FHC /ABJ/CS/984/19, respectively, have put to rest the lingering issue of ownership of Owuangain community where OML 29 Well 1, is located in favour of the Rivers State Government,” he pointed out and accused Aiteo and the Minister of State for Petroleum of deception and double standards describing it as “gross misconduct and lack of professionalism of Aiteo E&P Ltd,” and explained his people can no longer continue to bear the injustice that has led to the death of some of them due to unknown ailments.
He called on Aiteo and the Rivers State Government led by Governor Nyesom Wike to step into the issue before the spill spreads into the Sombreiro River thereby affecting more Kalabari communities.
The secretary of the group, Tamunosaki West, spoke in similar vein while one of the group’s elders – Engr. Gogo Jeibarimiema posited that the marginalisation was politically motivated.
Others who spoke in this light were Comrade Colange Briggs, the chairman Ijaw Defence Council, Ibinabo Omoni Jack and Chief Comrade Lolo A.C Will-Braide.
They were unanimous in their call for the anomaly to be corrected before things take a new dimension.
By Adamu Usman
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