The people of Egebekiri Community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa on Thursday protested alleged neglect by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
The Nigerian Pilot reports that the community members protested at Agip’s Obama Flow Station, disrupting production in oil wells 5, 7, 9 and 12.
Chief Karibi MacDonald, an Egebekiri Community leader, said during the protest that Agip had yet to pay the community any form of royalty since it started oil exploration in the community over 40 years ago.
MacDonald said that the community was tired of writing fruitless letters to the company.
He said that a Supreme Court judgment of July 13, 2007, confirmed the community as the legal owner of the land hosting the oilfield.
He alleged that NAOC continued to give the community’s rights and benefits to some persons in neighbouring communities.
“It is almost 10 years now since that Supreme Court ruling, but NAOC is yet to honour the ruling.
“They are yet to recognise and deal with us as landlords of the environment where the company has continued to extract crude oil from four wells,” MacDonald said.
Chief Egbe John, also among the protesters, said: “Today, we are saying we are tired after writing over 30 letters to various departments and the Bayelsa State governor and his special advisers on oil and gas and security.
“We have also written to the headquarters and sector command of the Joint Task Force, and the Commander, Central Naval Command.”
Similarly, Mrs Ofabara Egebe, also a member of the community, said that Egebekiri could no longer endure the alleged neglect as it had nothing to show for being an oil-producing community.
“The only compensation made by Agip was for its destruction of economic trees; we still have receipt of that payment.
“Nothing more has been given to our community by way of contracts or royalties as landlords hosting four oil wells operated by Agip.
“We are tired of the suffering and injustice by Agip; that is why we decided to protest today,” Egebe said.
When contacted on the disruption of oil production, Maj. Abubakar Abdullahi, Spokesman for the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, said that the military had since restored normalcy to the area.
“Our mandate is clear, and that is to protect oil and gas infrastructure.
“If any community has issues against any company, let them resolve it legally. JTF will not tolerate any threat to its mandate.
“We handled it professionally within our rules of engagement,’’he said.
Mr Fillippo Cotalini, Media Relations Manager of Eni, the parent company of NAOC, declined comments on the development.