More than two weeks after, protesters are still in control of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 25, thus preventing Shell Petroleum Development Company from producing and exporting commercial oil from the area.
The Tide investigations showed that the protesters, mainly youths from Belema in Rivers State have vowed that they would not leave the vicinity until Shell divests from the facility for an indigenous oil firm to take over.
The protesting women and youth of the host community, vow to occupy the flow station for as long as six months if their demand was not granted.
They accused the oil multinational, Shell of allegedly neglecting them, leaving them in penury since it commenced operation in the area over three decades ago, an allegation the oil giant denied.
However, there appears to be a crack in the community as some were opposed to the actions and demands of the protesters.
Chairman, Belema Council of Chiefs, Ibinabo Kalaoriye, in a radio announcement recently, dissociated the community from the protest, insisting that it was allegedly sponsored by those who did not mean well for the area.
The monarch maintained in the announcement that those behind the protest were not from his community, arguing that there was no way sons and daughters of his community would embark on such a mission without his permission.
“As the Amanyanabo of Belema community, I am not in support of such a protest. This is to inform the general public that the protesters are not indigenes of my community, if not they could have consulted me before embarking on such protest.
“The host communities of OML 25, including Belema and Offionama have continued to benefit from contract awards, employment of unskilled labour and our social investment programmes, including yearly award of regular and special scholarships to eligible candidates from the area.
“With the divestment of its interest in OML 24, SPDC relinquished operatorship of the facilities in that field”, the statement read in part.
“Despite the challenging environment, the SPDC JV set aside more than N600million for a five-year period beginning 2014 for development initiatives at Kula and the satellite communities of Belema, Offoinama and Boro. SPDC JV has also invested over N352million in Improvement of school infrastructure, sanitation and health outreach programmes, construction of walkway for the community and electricity supply in Kula Kingdom in the past 10 years”, he added.
He also spoke of its Global Memorandum of Understanding arrangement with Belema community, explaining that it gave right to the community to nominate project, execute them with funds from the oil giant.
Weli said the structure had brought some appreciable human and infrastructural development to the area.
However, the general manager said painfully the GMoU for Kula that was set up in 2014 had not been able to function because of several court cases with it as co defendant.
“A GMoU was eventually signed in 2014 for the Kula Cluster but has not been implemented because of continuing intra-community disagreements. As at 2015, there were a total of 11 court cases involving different groups with SPDC as a co-defendant in all of them.
“Sadly, these legal suits and disputes have rendered it impossible to implement more planned development projects in the affected communities,” he said.
Weli said though Shell had divested its 30 per cent in the Joint venture agreement in Kula, simply put, it had pulled out of Kula and some communities in the area but the communities had continued to enjoy its social investment programs.
He said N263million was expended on the community through a creation, Kula Project Implementation and Monitoring Committee (PIMC).
“The creation of the Kula Project Implementation and Monitoring Committee (PIMC) in 2012. The PIMC served as an interim platform for the delivery of social investment initiatives and programmes worth N263 million in the Soku-San Berth Project.
“These projects are separate from the GMoU projects initiated by communities using funds provided by the SPDC JV Notwithstanding that SPDC has divested its equity in OML 24, which covers most of the communities in Kula and Belema, the SPDC JV has continued to implement agreed social investment programmes such as scholarship and entrepreneurship schemes for the communities there”, he said.
PHED Intensifies Fault Clearing Amidst Rising Threats By Afam Youths
The management of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Plc., PHED, says it has commenced intensive fault clearing in its franchise area, particularly in Rivers State amidst rising threats by Afam youths.
In a statement released to the media, The PHED management said the move became imperative as the company intend to keep its commitment to customers notwithstanding the prevailing restriction in movement that may impede fault clearing at odd hours, especially in Rivers State.
The PHED management declared that, “We therefore wish to use this medium to publicly discountenance the fake story clogging the media space about PHED destroying its own equipment.
Contrary to the report, the aforementioned community is known for its violence and intimidation towards PHED staff”.
The statement pointed out that the habitual hostility towards the staff of the company informed management’s decision to engage security operatives in its drive to clear faults on the lines over the weekend.
It added that the hostilities of Afam Community and the eventual shut down of PHED business operations on three occasions: January 2017, January 2018 and August 2020, amidst threats of bodily harm to our staff, were widely reported through different media
The PHED management, however, frowned at such destructions and threats to their operations, stating that the company will not hesitate to invoke the law to bring perpetrators to book.
The company advised its esteemed customers to use the 24/7 call centre on 070022557433 and verify social media handles @PHEDconnect to channel their specific complaint, and encourage its customers to partner with PHED by paying their bills promptly to enable the company deliver on its promises.
Police Move Against Use Of Unauthorised SPY Number Plates In Rivers
The Police have started the enforcement of the ban on use of SPY number plates by unauthorised persons in Rivers State.
They have also suspended the issuance of permits to use tinted glasses in vehicles.
Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman, directed the moves to check rising wave of insecurity across the country.
Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Mr Eboka Friday, directed the enforcement in the state, according to a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday by the command’s spokesman, SP Nnamdi Omoni.
Omoni stated that CP Friday ordered strict compliance with the directive by the command’s heads of tactical units, divisional police officers and heads of departments.
“The command has started the retrieval of spy plate numbers from unauthorized users as well as suspended the issuance of new tinted glass permits.
“Members of the public, particularly residents of the state are expected to immediately re-adjust and comply with the directives, as machinery has been put in place to ensure total compliance.
“To this end, officers have been deployed in this regard, and they will be going round to monitor compliance,’’ he stated.
Omoni quoted CP Friday as saying, however, that vehicles with permits issued before the IGP’s directive remained in the clear and could continue to enjoy their permits.
According to him, the issuance of new permits is currently halted pending the release of a new protocol that will regulate permits in accordance with extant law.
He added that the commissioner of police said: “officers are sternly warned to be courteous, polite and professional as well as by all means necessary, avoid acts inimical to the police force.
“Officers are expected to conduct themselves professionally in the discharge of this all-important national assignment aimed at strengthening our internal security.’’
Monarch Seeks Policy To Checkmate Illegal Mineral Extraction
The Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, and the Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, has called on the Federal Government to promulgate a policy that would checkmate illegal extraction of resources in the North and South of the country.
Jaja made the call while playing host to the participants of the Senior Executive Course 43, of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) during an interactive session at the council’s auditorium in Port Harcourt recently.
The monarch opined that a general policy to checkmate the illegal extraction of mineral resources in the country should be put in place, rather than prohibiting those in the South and allowing those in the Northern part of the country without check.
According to him, any society that fails to ensure equity and fairness amongst its citizens is bound to face agitations and threat of all kinds, adding that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
The monarch noted that before the amalgamation of Southern and Northern Protectorates into the Nigerian nation, animal herding had been a popular farming system without any form of hostility, pointing out that it is unfortunate that herders now abandon their bush tracks through which they bred their animals in the past and prefer to go through farmlands.
He therefore urged the herders to stick to the peaceful practices of the past so that the citizens of the country would continue to live together in peace as one people.
He frowned at frantic efforts being made by some disgruntled elements to destroy the peace of the nation, stressing that irrespective of the many man-related problems currently plaguing the nation, all hands must be on deck for a friendly dialogue that would help the people of this great country to forge ahead than killing and destroying lives and property.
Jaja called on the participants to help persuade the management of multi-national oil companies to consider creating job opportunities for the teeming youths of Rivers State, regretting that the companies, instead of carrying out their corporate social responsibilities to their host communities, create factions among the youths to foment trouble in the communities.
In his speech, the leader of the delegation, who is also the Director of Staff, Prof Fatai Aramu, said the group decided to visit the council in order to tap from the wealth of experience of the traditional rulers who are the custodian of the traditions and customs of the people in order to enhance policy and programme implementation in Nigeria, pointing out that Rivers State was chosen because of its outstanding performance in policy programme and project execution.
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