Delta, Edo communities threaten to shutdown Sahara Enageed oil firm operations, give reasons
Residents of three border communities comprising, Kolokolo, Ikara and Ajatiton within Delta and Edo States, on Monday issued Sahara Enageed Resource Limited, an oil servicing firm seven days ultimatum to recognize them in the Oziengbe South field operations as well as pay all entitlements due to the communities.
Indigenes of the three riverine communities, which include the elderly men, women and youths, during a peaceful protest, also threatened to shutdown the company’s operations if it failed to yield to their demands.
The peaceful protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions such as, “Sahara, We demand a properly negotiated MoU”, ” Ikara is host community”, “Respect human rights”, ” Give peace a chance”, “Sahara Enageed is trying to instigate communal crisis by defining boundary for communities” as well as ” Sahara is breaking the laws of Nigeria.”
Convener of the protest, Comrade Sunny Etchie, handed down the ultimatum on behalf of the three riverine communities during the peaceful protest along the Benin River.
Etchie, who doubles as the Youth President-General of Kolokolo community said, “Kolokolo community has been one of the host communities to Oziengbe South field in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area, Edo State Nigeria, which was formerly operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, until lately when the said Oziengbe South field operations was handed over with all its assets and liabilities to Sahara Enageed Resource Limited around the year 2015.”
He noted that since Sahara Enageed Resource Limited took over operations in the community, they only gained rice and goats as end of year gifts in addition to the wooden bridge crossing Kolokolo 1 to Kolokolo 2 from the company.
According to Etchie, “In fact, Kolokolo community had and is experiencing its worst marginalization under Sahara Enageed’s Management.
“Kolokolo community has almost completely lost its God-given rights and privileges that we were formally enjoying under the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, such as scholarships, capital projects and other entitlements etc has now gone into oblivion under Sahara Enageed Resource limited Management.
“To make matter worst, the Management of Sahara Enageed Resource Limited has deliberately taken Kolokolo community’s peace nature for granted to the extent that Sahara Enageed now defines boundary for host communities within and around the area and went ahead to suspend our community (Kolokolo) from the operations of Oziengbe South field, which is in our God-given ancestral home.
“They deprive us of being part of the ongoing drilling rig work operations in Oziengbe South field.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that Kolokolo community, one of the hosts has taken to this protest and demand as follows.
“That our rights as one of the host communities must be fully recognized by the Management of Sahara Enageed Resource Limited.
“That Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, must be duly signed by both our communities and Sahara Enageed Resource Limited.
“That direct employment of permanent Staff must be given to Kolokolo, Ikara and Ajatiton indigenes.
“That scholarship slots for our communities should be actualized promptly up to date.
“That contracts should be awarded to Kolokolo community indigenes henceforth in all areas of their operations in our land including benefits accruable from barge contract operations.
“That empowerment of our women and skill acquisition programme for our teaming elders and youths.
The leader of Ajatiton community, Mr. Oloma Eyewuoma, corroborated the claims of his Kolokolo counterpart, saying, “The world needs to know that Sahara Enageed Resource Limited does not have any interests in human rights.”
Meanwhile, the lawyer to Kolokolo Community, Barr. Casely Omon-Irabor, vowed that he will institute all legal action against the company to ensure that rights of the Community are given to them.
Meanwhile, efforts to speak with the management of the company were unsuccessful as security operatives barred newsmen from accessing its premises.