Akwa Ibom community threatens to shut oil firms
Concerned citizens of Iko Town Association in Eastern Obolo Local government area of Akwa Ibom State have threatened to shut the operations of some oil firms over alleged refusal to attend meetings called to address issues affecting the community.
The group lamented that efforts to get the operating companies for a meeting to resolve issues affecting the community have been shunned by the companies.
Our correspondent gathered that the companies operating the Oil Mining Lease field in partnership with Nigeria Petroleum Development Company and Shell Petroleum Development Company between 1970 and 1996 did so without a clearly defined Memorandum of Understanding with the Iko community.
Other companies in the Oil drilling deal partnering with Nigeria Petroleum Development Company include Sterling Oil Exploration, Energy Production Company Ltd and Natural Oil Field Services Ltd, while NNPCL remains the sole owner and licensed operator of the oil mining field in Iko Town.
In a letter addressed to the Managing Director of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company through its lawyer, Barrister Jude Effiong, the group expressed fears that such attitudes may result in another crisis.
The letter reads in part, “We put it to you that you have succeeded in destroying our client but God does not say so, amen. Environmental advocates described the environment as life; it’s the basis of sustenance. It’s from it that its inhabitants eke out a living. The environment is very central to people’s existence. We make bold to state that your businesses have left our client more impoverished and their environment rendered hospitable.”
While demanding payment of the sum of N250bn compensation for the “mindless/lawless/criminal desecration of the sacred land” and others, the group urged the Nigeria Petroleum Development Development to convene a meeting with the host community of Iko Town to nip impending crisis in the bud.
Addressing newsmen in Uyo on Monday, the Chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Iko Town Association, Chief Frank Unyongs, said NPDC has resorted to divide-and-rule tactics in their approach to settling issues with the Iko community, adding that such attitudes would not help in tackling community relations issues for the company.
“Shell blindfolded our forefathers after the Civil War. They invaded Iko Town in Eastern Obolo local government, Akwa Ibom state. They started onshore oil exploration and drilling without any MOU with our people as they were illiterate fishermen.
“But In 2007, there was a protest by the community which lasted for 52 days and a position paper was presented to them.
“This happened before the Niger Delta agitations. The protest drew the attention of the Senate Committee on Oil and Gas which visited the area in 2019.
“NPDC is taking us for granted. They should meet with Concerned Citizens of Iko Town Association and conclude the meeting which they have started without further delay and stop playing pranks with the people”, he said.
Reacting, the Manager of Community Relations of Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, Dahiru Abubakar, said the company has been doing everything possible to sustain community relationships with host communities in their operations.
“I am not in a position to speak more about the Ikot Town oil field matter. I can only refer you to the Public Affairs Department of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Ltd for details. I can’t speak more on this matter please”, he pleaded.