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****Company’s Relations Officer denies allegations
By Philip Onome
The people of Iwevbo, Urhobo community, under Ugu ward of Orhiomnwon local government area, Edo state, has protested and alleged the management of Newcross Petroleum Limited, operators of the OML 152 of total neglect and marginalization over the company’s oil exploration in their area.
The Urhobo speaking community also known as Ovre-Eku who embarked on a peaceful protest against their alleged marginalization by the company, described its unwillingness to recognize the status of the most senior man of the community as an affront and against the provisions of the CDC Prohibition Law 2017.
One of the community’s women who spoke during the protest, Ufuoma Onomine, said the community does not have a single tarred road, pipeborn water, school, electricity, social amenities; pointing out that nothing the community has benefitted from the oil firm.
A notable indigene of the community, Barr. Anthony Ukueku, in a protest letter said: “Upon inauguration of the Iwevbo Elders Council Representatives sometime in October, 2022 we have written several letters to Newcross which they acknowledged but failed to engage us so we can state our position and policy to Newcross as partners in progress.
“Newcross however formed deaf ears and refused us access to meaningful engagement with the company on the ground that they have been dealing with Iwevbo community through the Enogie of Orogho community from time past – which does not make it right.
On the demands of the community, he said: “We want Newcross to stop the continuing registration process of the Orhionmwon 1 Host Community Development Trust with NUPRC or other governmental agencies and in place commence registeration of ours as Iwevbo Host Community Development Trust in line with the Petroluem Industry Act 2021.
“WE want Newcross to recognise and engage with the community established Iwevbo Elders Council Representatives as they are the ones saddled with the day to day administration of the community and also to pay their entitlements and or compensations through Iwevbo Elders Council Representatives.
Fielding questions from newsmen moments after, the Eldest man of Iwevbo Community, Chief Joseph Ukueku, told the company to negotiate with community, reiterating that they would continue with the tussle until their demands are met.
Responding to the protesters, the Relations Officer of the Newcross Petroleum Limited, Mr. William Ugiagbe, denied allegations, saying that the position of Iwevbo host community is being marginalized and neglected is not true.
Ugiagbe said, “Our operations are in Iwevbo community in Orhiomnwon local government, and that community is under a Dukedom called Orogho Dukedom, in line with our engagement policy, with the directive of the palace of the Oba of Benin, we are dealing with all the communities in that Dukedom including the Iwevbo through the royal father, the Enogie of Orogho Dukedom.