Imo oil producing communities protest neglect by oil firms

Hundreds of youths from Assa; Obile; Ochia; and Awara communities in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Areas of Imo state yesterday took over the Owerri office of Seplat Oil Company to protest commencement of business activities without Health and Environmental Impact Assessment.

The youths who numbered about 1000, bore different placards lamenting neglect and health hazards on the community and people. 

Spokesperson for the protesters, Emmanuel Ugorji, told newsmen that before further business activities in their communities, Seplat Oil must first demobilise their equipment from their communities until an agreement is reached.

He said the oil firm should have not began operations when the Health and Environmental Impact Assessment had not been conducted.
 
Ugorji said "we are on a peaceful protest and we have come here to ask Seplat oil company, why they entered our lands without any form of dialogue with us, and without singing any Global Memorandum of Understanding. We do not even have the report of Health and Environmental  Impact Assessment. So we do not know the hazards their facilities and explorations  will have on us, and we need to have that document because it concerns us", the youth leader said. 

According to him, the communities have suffered untold neglect and health hazards following the activities of oil firms in the area saying "In the past, we have been facing challenges since 1958 till date. The communities in Awarra court area have been producing oil, yet, there is no road, no electricity, no hospital".

Further he said " As I speak to you, none of our people is employed in any of the oil companies in our area, so if we allow this to happen again, then that means we are fools and we are not. We want to tell them that these are what we want, and not allow somebody to negotiate on our behalf. We want to do it by ourselves", Ugorji insisted. 

Meanwhile, the State Manager of Seplat oil company, Emeka Onyeagba, said the firm would look out for ways of resolving the issue with the protesting youths .

Onyeagba, said that Seplat oil company was open to peaceful protests, disclosed that already, they had commenced negotiations with the traditional rulers and leaders of the communities in other to sign a Global Memorandum of Understanding.

According to him, the former operators, Chevron oil company did not inform them about many things concerning the community.



Imo oil producing communities protest neglect by oil firms Imo oil producing communities protest neglect by oil firms Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Saturday, September 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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