By Tony Nyong
UYO â€” Stakeholaders in the oil industry inÂ Akwa Ibom State, have continued to blameÂ last weekâ€™s statement by Mobil Producing Nigeria, MPN,Â denying and dissociating itself from oil spill compensation forms circulating in the state.
But Mr Sam Udoakagha, lawyer to the affected communities, saidÂ yesterday, that Mobil sent police to invade and ransackÂ his office in Eket, Akwa Ibom State and arrested his staff in order to frustrate efforts to get the people to claim their due compensation.
Speaking with Vanguard on the sale of the forms,Â Mr. Udoakagha said, â€œthe bottom line is that we are not selling our services, we have been retained by the Eket Peopleâ€™s Union. Residents in the Southern part of Akwa Ibom,Â have been scrambling to purchase compensation forms in anticipation of a possible payment from Mobil for oil spills, which occurred at the companyâ€™s Qua Iboe Oil fields on 1 May 2010.
In a statement by Mobil last week, the company said that it has not found proof of impact of the May oil spill on its host communities to justify payment of compensation.
â€œMobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited has no contractual relationship with any organisation or persons in Akwa Ibom State for the handling of compensation to any individual or communities in the state.” Nigerian law lays down the procedure for the payment of compensation for damage caused by an oil spill.Â MPN follows the law in establishing impact, determination of damage and the payment of compensation,â€ the statement said.
But the Clan Head of Odio Ekid,Â came out to accuse the oil giant of persecuting him and also masterminding frictions between neighbouring villages within the host communities to make sure they create confusion and wrangling that would frustrateÂ their agitations for proper treatment.
The May 1, 2010 spill sparked off a protest in Mobilâ€™s host communities,Â resulting in the intervention of Akwa Ibom Governor to resolve the face off and as part of palliative measures to sooth frayed nerves in its host communities, Mobil reportedly pledgedÂ to use the compensation money to fund community development projects to the tune of N2 billion in the area.
Chairman of Eket Local Government Area, Mr. Emmanuel Udoh, said that the sale of the compensation forms was ill termed, as the state government committee on the spill incident was still at initial stages of its negotiations with the oil firm.