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By Binebai Princewill
A group operating under the aegis of Ndokwa East Ijaw Nation Movement (NEINM) in Delta State have stated the reason why they protested at Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited with a massive protest at the company’s yard in Asemoku Community, Asemoku Clan, Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State today.
The protest which was led by Comr. Ebolo Samuel, Chairman of the Ndokwa East Ijaw Nation Movement (NEINM) along with hundreds of Ijaw youths noted that they have no choice than to embark on the protest owing to the many years of negligence meted out on the host communities in Delta and Bayelsa States.
The press statement reads in full below:
PRESS BRIEF ON THE CIVIL ACTION
My name is Comrade Ebolo Samuel. I am the Chairman of the Body known and referred to as NDOKWA EAST IJAW NATION MOVEMENT. I also hold the position of the Chairman of all Clan Chairmen of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Western Zone and also the Special Adviser to the President IYC worldwide, Comr. Dcn. Peter Igbifa. With me standing here is the Secretary of the Association Honourable Okwuwa Ezechi.
Our association is a not for profit one. Our main aim is the actualization and influencing of development to our rural communities in these local government areas – EKEREMOR, BOMADI, BURUTU, PATANI, SAGBAMA AND NDOKWA EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS respectively.
Precisely on the 22nd of February, 2022 we dispatched formal letters to the management of SEEPCO – STERLING EXPLORATION AND ENERGY PRODUCTION COMPANY LIMITED – demanding the following:
- JIV – Joint Investigative Visit – of the stretch of our waterways in the 5 LGA’s listed above where your barges operate to ascertain the level of pollution done by you for the purpose of payment of compensation to our communities;
- Immediate cleanup of the waterways after the JIV above and restoration of the ecosystem to support fishing for our local communities which is their source of economic mainstay;
- Corporate Social Responsibility Projects in our various coastal communities in the 5 LGA’s.
- Payment of Tenement Rates to our Local Governments and other ancillary tax to be determined and levied by the councils as prescribed by law;
- Shore protection for our coastal communities which is in a deplorable state as a result of constant and daily movement of your vessels.
In view of the above urgent demands made, 14 days was given to them to reach out and discuss with us through the five local governments as they are our first point of contact. We hinted that their failure will constrain us to do the needful. Self-help also an option.
Recall that for about a decade now, the management of seepco has been lifting and transporting crude oil on our waterways – river niger – on a daily basis. More than 10 barges heavily guarded travel this route from Ndokwa East to Agge in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa before it is loaded on a mother vessel for the Atlantic Ocean. As these vessels make this journey, the pollution it leaves behind is unquantifiable.
Our local communities on the banks of the River Niger from the aforementioned LGA’s are either agrarian or fishing communities. Some are both. Spilled crude and industrial wastes leaves its trail on the Niger. Marine live is gone. The economic mainstay of our people. When the floods arrives, our farmlands and communities are flooded. The moment the water recedes, it leaves patches of crude and industrial wastes in our communities and farmlands. The result of this cycle, low or minimal production. Thereby leaving us hungry all year round.
Thus, our association took up as a challenge and formally wrote to the company. They paid a deaf ear hence this peaceful protest. We won’t leave here until we are attended to.
We also confronted our various local governments in a bid to see if this environmental crisis can be salvage by their intervention. We were disappointedly informed that the management of SEEPCO prides themselves high and above the local government were they operate. They don’t even pay taxes, rates and tenement rates to the LGA’s as prescribed by law.
We therefore demand as law abiding citizens of Nigeria that the management of SEEPCO do the needful and implement our demands stated above effective immediately. Their failure to so do shall be very critical to all parties involved.
LET WISE COUNSEL PREVAIL ALWAYS.
GOD BLESS NDOKWA NATION, GOD BLESS IJAW NATION, GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA