July 13, 2024

Ijaw youths close down SEEPCo’s oilfield over alleged neglect

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Ilenre Irele

Protesting youths from Anyama Clan and Onuebum Community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa have surrounded and stopped activities at the site of an appraisal oil well project within Petroleum Prospecting Licence, PPL 2005, operated by Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited, SEEPCo.

The protesters accused the asset operator, SEEPCO of showing lack of respect for the Bayelsa State Government’s directive on resumed negotiations with the host community and compliance with local, state and federal laws including the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA.

The aggrieved youths, numbering over a hundred, chanting solidarity songs in Ijaw language and displaying placards, arrived at the dredging site of the project in the early hours of the day and shut down operations, while dispersing the workers.

Some inscriptions on the placards read, “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 Act” and “Desist from your violation operations in Onuebum”.

Leader of the protest and IYC Chairman, Ayama Clan, Comrade Samson Insurance Lucky, said “We are in Onuebum to counter the anomaly of Sterling Energy in the areas of the non-conduct of EIA, the disrespect to the Onuebum community and disregard for extant laws.

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

Also, the traditional leaders of Onuebum community led by the Paramount Ruler, HRH Obanema Kine Kobolota Osain, and his Deputy, High Chief John Alpheus Edede, urged the Bayelsa State Government to call Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited, SEEPCO, to order.

The Paramount Ruler said the community has been on the part of peace and prevailing on the youths to avoid acts that will throw the community into violence.

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

“When they invaded our ancestral land and desecrated our forest and burial sites, we retrained the youths against acts that will instigate quarrels. 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.”

The Deputy Paramount Ruler, High Chief John Alpheus Edede, said “They are operating without the consent of the community. We asked them to come and see the community, but they refused.

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