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Youths shut down oil field in Bayelsa

Youths from the Anyama Clan of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) and Onuebum Community of Ogbia Local Government area of Bayelsa State have shut down an…

Youths from the Anyama Clan of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) and Onuebum Community of Ogbia Local Government area of Bayelsa State have shut down an oil field operated by the Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) over alleged disregard to the state government’s directive on resumed negotiations with host community.

The aggrieved youths, who stormed the site of the appraisal of oil well project in OPL 2005 located in the community, stated that SEEPCO, the owner of the project, had shown disregard to the directive on resumed negotiations with host community and compliance with local, state and federal laws, including the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The angry youths, numbering over 100, arrived the dredging site of the project in the early hours of Wednesday and stopped the work.

They were also supported by Onuebum youths led by the chairman and secretary of the Onuebum Oil and Gas Task Force, Mr. John Bailiff Egapekpar and Engr. Ebitimi Egbenpere respectively.

The youths, chanting Ijaw songs and displaying placards with inscription such as “SEEPCO comply with Section 12 of the EIA Act”, “IYC demand implementation of Section 236 of the PIA for Onuebum community”, “We reject your non-compliance with Petroleum Industry” and “Desist from your violatory operations in Onuebum”.

The IYC Chairman in Ayama Clan, Comrade Samson Insurance Lucky, said their action was aimed at countering the anomaly of the Sterling global in the areas of the non-conduct of EIA, the disrespect to the Onuebum community and for extant laws

He said: “We call on the company to resume discussion with the community and respect the relevant laws. The company have also rebuffed and shun efforts by the IYC to assist in the resolution of the contentious issues.”

Also speaking, the traditional heads of the Onuebum community led by the Paramount Ruler, HRH Obanema Kine Kobolota Osain, Ogo XVI and his Deputy, High Chief John Alpheus Edede, Opalama XIII urgedthe state government to rein in the Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO).

The Paramount Ruler, HRH Obanema Kine Kobolota Osain, Ogo XVI, while speaking on the development, said the community had been on the part of peace and prevailing on the youths to avoid acts that would throw the community into violence.

He said: “When they invaded our ancestral land and desecrated our forest and burial sites, we restrained the youths against acts that will instigate quarrel. The company and its agents are behaving as if they are above the laws.

“What we are asking is for the company to conduct EIA and respect existing laws. Instead of complying, they embarked on divisive tactics. They have disregarded the community authority. We call on the state government to call the Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) to order.”

He called on the Federal Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Environment and Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to get SEEPCO to comply with the PIA, Environmental Impact Assessment Act and Local content Laws in line with industry best practices.

The Deputy Paramount Ruler, High Chief John Alpheus Edede, Opalama XIII, said despite the directive of the state government for the company to engage the community before further actions, they are operating without the consent of the community.

Efforts to speak with the management of Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) were abortive, as the official phone number provided on its site was not going througt. The company has also yet to reply to an email sent to it by our correspondent.

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