Ijaw Youths Threaten to Halt Agip Op­er­a­tions in Bayelsa

THISDAY - - NEWSXTRA - Em­manuel Ad­deh

Two oil- bear­ing towns in Bayelsa State at the week­end threat­ened to shut down the op­er­a­tions of Nige­ria Agip Oil Com­pany ( NAOC) over the oil gi­ant’s al­leged re­fusal to hon­our a Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing ( MoU) en­tered with the com­mu­ni­ties.

Lead­ers of Og­boin­biri and Azuzuama, the af­fected ar­eas, who spoke dur­ing a protest march to the Pres­i­dent of the Ijaw Youth Coun­cil (IYC) World­wide, Eric Omare, ar­gued that each time they raised any is­sues, the com­pany was in the habit of de­ploy­ing the mil­i­tary to the area.

Led by the Chair­men of the ar­eas, Tari Okoso and Wal­ter JobMolo re­spec­tively, the com­mu­ni­ties in­formed the IYC youth leader that Agip had re­fused to com­ply with the con­tract which was mu­tu­ally agreed upon by both par­ties.

The host com­mu­ni­ties noted that part of the un­der­stand­ing was for the com­pany to carry out devel­op­men­tal projects that would en­hance the qual­ity of life of res­i­dents of their ar­eas of op­er­a­tion.

“We have been pushed to the wall and we have is­sued an ul­ti­ma­tum to shut down Agip op­er­a­tions in the com­mu­ni­ties by asking Agip work­ers to leave,” they de­clared.

It was gath­ered that Agip pro­duces a com­bined daily out­put of about 50, 000 bar­rels of crude oil in both com­mu­ni­ties in the state.

The com­mu­ni­ties also com­plained of per­sis­tent oil spillage by the com­pany in the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties with­out pay­ment of com­pen­sa­tion and there­after re­sort­ing to “per­sis­tent mil­i­tary ha­rass­ment.”

The pro­test­ers re­called that in 2007, “the mis­man­age­ment of an MoU by Agip in Og­boin­biri com­mu­nity led to the death of more than 67 per­sons including se­cu­rity per­son­nel.”

They added that a fire in­ci­dent at Azuzuama com­mu­nity “from the neg­li­gence of Agip in 2015 led to the death of sev­eral per­sons including Late Li­nus Epunumoku­mor in re­spect of which Agip has re­fused to pay com­pen­sa­tion to the family up till date.”

Re­spond­ing, Omare urged the oil com­pany to com­ply with the MoU en­tered with its host com­mu­ni­ties and ob­serve in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices in the oil and gas in­dus­try in its op­er­a­tions to avoid a com­plete halt to its op­er­a­tions after the ex­piry of the ul­ti­ma­tum.

The Pres­i­dent of IYC called on Gov­er­nor Se­ri­ake Dick­son of Bayelsa State and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to pre­vail on Agip to re­spect the MoU “to avoid a vi­o­lent shut down of op­er­a­tions with grave se­cu­rity and eco­nomic im­pli­ca­tions.”

The youth leader also called on the multi­na­tional to re­spect Nige­rian laws on en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and pay­ment of com­pen­sa­tion to its host com­mu­ni­ties.

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