By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
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 the communities.
Indigenes of the three riverine Communities which includes the elderly men, women and youths during a peaceful protest also threatened to shutdown the company’s operations if it fails to yield to its demands.
The peaceful protesters beard placards with 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” and ” Sahara is breaking the laws of Nigeria.”
The Youth President-General of Kolokolo Community, Comrade Sunny Etchie handed down the ultimatum on behalf of the three riverine Communities during a peaceful protest along the Benin river.
According to Etchie,”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.
“It is worthy of note that since then, Sahara Enageed Resource Limited has only apart from end of year gifts(rice and goats) given to Kolokolo Community wooden bridge crossing Kolokolo 1 to Kolokolo 2 as the only feasible project so far.
“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 ascenstral home.
“They deprive us of being part of the ongoing drilling rig work operations in Ozinegbe 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.
“To clearly state yearly developmental road map of Kolokolo Community as clearly stipulated by Nigerian Local Content law.
“To support and access road linking Kolokolo Community to Ikpako that’s ongoing.
” That before now, it has been the practice of Sahara Enageed to use security agencies to thwart or deprive Kolokolo Community Executive and indigenes of their rights and entitlements.
“We will stop at nothing to ensure that all our rights and privileges are acceded to through peaceful demonstration and civilized means of redress.”
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.”
While noting that Ajatiton and other Communities are host to Sahara Enageed Resource Limited operations, Eyewuoma disclosed that there is drilling operation in the Community. He stressed that the company allegedly embarked on the drilling operation without the involvement of the Community without any impact assessment carried out.
“We are suffering under the evil yoke of this Company”.
Eyewuoma also said the Community will take their destinies in their hands if nothing is done amicably to resolve the issues.
A ninety two year old woman from Kolokolo Community, Mrs. Awawu Asokwaumi said the oil firm has refused to provide the community with road as they resort to paying barge to convey them to their locations.
Mrs. Asokwaumi who is the second oldest woman in the Community said,” We see it as oppression. This is not good.”
Mrs. Asokwaumi noted that they have met with the company but without any response.
The most eldest man in Kolokolo Community. Mr. Samuel Asokuarami noted that Sahara Enageed Resource limited is not the first to drill oil in the Community.
Asokuarami said,”the kind of oppression the company is giving us , even Tue NPDC did not do it. They did not give us dime since they entered our Community.
The Ola-Aja and woman leader of Ajatiton Community, Mr. Kokumo Eyewuoma and Marian Okome, the Public Relations Officer of Ikara Community Trust, Austin Uwanikone, as well as the two time former President of Koloko Community,Abel Inyinbra and Christy Omadeli also neared their minds on the matter.
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 is given them.
He also said the company have neglected the the Community for too long since it took over.