A group under the aegis of Concerned Citizens of Polobubou (Tsekelewu) communities (CCPC), in Egbema Kingdom of Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, has condemned an alleged invasion of their comunity on January 1, 2018 by the military, saying that they will not succumb to intimidation in any guise in their quest to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with all oil companies operating in their area.
The group made this observation in a press statement titled: “NPDC/Elcrest Threaten Host Communities with Military,” signed by Comrade Benjamin Custom and Comrade Evans Owei kelete Tiemo, President and Conflict Resolution Chairman respectively and made available to newsmen in Warri, Delta State.
It was gathered that on January 1, 2018, at about 2am when the communities were celebrating their New Year, a detachment of soldiers stormed the community with two military speed boats with sophisticated weapons and took over the new year celebration, a situation that caused panic and stampede. It was said that several people were injured in the process.
The group lamented that the incessant military attacks on both communities, could cause crisis between the oil companies and the communities, adding that if the federal and state governments do not intervene in the matter, things could go out of hand.
Speaking in an interview with the chairman, Comrade Benjamin Custom said it was regrettable that their people are being intimidated by oil companies which came to do business in their communities, alleging that their independent investigation showed that the military men who invaded their communities were from Opuama Flowstation OML 40, owned by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC)/Elcrest.
“Information reaching us showed that the military were from NPDC Flowstation working on the orders of NPDC/Elcrest to intimidate our president, Pastor Marvis Ofiyai, who has been at the forefront of the struggle to compel NPDC/Elcrest to sign an MoU with our communities. Thus fight has been on and they are using every avenue possible to them to try to intimidate him out of the fight. If they want to see him they should follow legitimate process not to invade our communities in such an odd hour.
“It is highly regrettable that oil companies will operate in an environment without an MoU with its host. This is just the reason why we have been under military invasion for some time now. We are not fighting, the community is peaceful, what are they looking for if not to intimidate us out of the struggle for a fair deal for our people. This falls short of acceptable standard of oil operations both in Nigeria and elsewhere,” Comrade Custom stated.
He noted the Pastor Marvis Ofiyai was duly elected as president and sworn-in at an enlarge ceremony witnessed by security agents and other critical stakeholders and therefore, wondered why he (Pastor Ofiyai) was being harassed and intimidated by the military for standing out to challenge illegality being perpetuated by oil companies in their area.
“I hereby call on the federal and state governments, Inspector General of Police and other security agencies to come to our aide and stop NPDC/ELCREST from harassing us and also compel them to enter into an agreement with us. We are losing patient. Our quietness should not be taken for cowardice. We hereby warn that we may be forced to take action that my disrupt oil operation in our area,” the community chairman said.