Residents of Egebekiri community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State are protesting the refusal by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, to compensate the community despite a court ruling by the Supreme Court.
It was gathered that the residents took their protest to the Obama flow station operated by NAOC, leading to a disruption in oil production at oil wells 5, 7, 9 and 12.
Leader of the Egebekiri community, Karibi MacDonald, told journalists that the protest was because the company has not paid them any form of royalties or related fees due to them since it started oil exploration in the community over 40 years ago.
MacDonald said they were tired of writing letters to official quarters seeking intervention without any positive response.
He pointed out that the Supreme Court of Nigeria in a judgment delivered on July 13, 2007, had confirmed them as the legal owners of the land area hosting the oilfields, alleging that the oil company has continued to give their rights and benefits to some persons in neighbouring communities.
The community leader said: “It is 10 years now since that Supreme Court ruling, and yet, NAOC is yet to show that they honour the ruling of the Supreme Court.
“They are yet to recognise and deal with us as landlord of the environment where the company has continued to extract crude oil from four oil wells in their Obama oilfield.”
Corroborating Macdonald’s claims, another protester, Egbe John, said they were tired of writing numerous letters to the appropriate authorities for an amicable solution to the matter.
“Today, we are saying we are tired after writing over 30 letters to various departments including, the Bayelsa State Governor, his special advisers on oil and gas and security.
“We have also written to headquarters and sector commands of the Joint Task Force, Commander, Central Naval Command. Where have we not written to? Even up to Milan, the head office of ENI”, he stated.
ENI is the parent company of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, another prominent member of the Egebekiri community, Ofabara Egebe, noted that the residents could no longer endure the neglect as they have nothing to show for being an oil-producing community.
“The only little compensation made by Agip then was for destruction of economic trees,of which we still have receipt of that payment.
“Nothing more has been given to our community by way of contracts or royalties as landlord hosting four oil wells operated by Agip.
“We are tired of the suffering and injustices meted against us by Agip, that is why we decided to protest against the injustice today,” Egebe said.
When contacted, spokesman for the Military Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Abubakar Abdullahi, said the situation has since been brought under control and normalcy has returned to the area.
“Well, our mandate is clear and that is to protect oil and gas infrastructure,” Abdullahi said.
“If any community has issues against any company, let them resolve it legally. JTF will not take any threats to its mandate.”
The military spokesman insisted that the protest was handled “professionally within our rules of engagement.”
However, the Media Relations Manager of the oil company, Fillippo Cotalini, declined to comment on the development.