Some youths of Ikebiri community in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have shut down three oil wells belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company.
Scores of youths reportedly shut down oil well heads 9, 11 and 14 in the community last Friday.
The protesting youths claimed that they shut the oil wells due to alleged neglect and refusal of the company to re-award some abandoned projects under the Global Memorandum of Understanding.
It was learnt on Sunday that the Ikebiri people, consisting mainly youths and a few women and men, brandished placards with inscriptions such as ‘Enough is enough: Ikebiri says no to Agip’s neglect’; ‘Stop divide-and-rule, give us our quick impact jobs’.
It was also learnt that though armed soldiers were deployed to open the shut oil wells on Saturday, the youths allegedly vowed to continue the disruption of Agip operations in the community.
The Chairman of the Ikebiri Community Development Committee, Timiondi Fabofighe, said the disruption of the firm’s activities was caused by the alleged refusal of the company to re-award abandoned projects and include community members as beneficiaries of the “Quick Impact project in the absence of a GMoU.”
Fabofighe said, “Yes, it is true that we shut down three oil wells belonging to Agip. We have tried legal and peaceful means to prevail on the company to sign a GMoU and they have refused.
“The GMoU provides that a project is sited and completed. But with a GMoU expiration, the oil company awarded quick impact jobs with the exclusion of Ikebiri people.
“When we approached them, they said it was too late for the community to demand quick impact jobs. But they did not inform us. All we are demanding is the immediate award of contract to complete the abandoned projects and the immediate release of quick impact jobs to the community.”
An indigene of the community and the state secretary of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Mr. Timi Igoli, while confirming the development, lamented that rather than dialogue with the angry residents, Agip invited armed soldiers.
He claimed that military action led to the killing of some indigenes during past protests.
Efforts to speak with authorities of the Agip on the development were unsuccessful as calls to the Public Relations Department failed to connect.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )