By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LEADERS of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and their Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, counterpart have threatened to pull oil workers from Akwa Ibom State and shut down the over 640 Barrel Mobil Producing platform in Eket by tomorrow should the government fail to locate 8 workers kidnapped on Sunday night at Oso platform, in Akwa Ibom State.
The umbrella bodies for both the junior and senior workers in the nation’s Petroleum industry lamented that as at yesterday security was yet to be beefed up in the volatile and oil installations in the state and insisted that eight workers were kidnapped as against the seven that the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, claimed to have.
President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, who spoke to Vanguard on the plans of the oil workers’ unions following the abduction of the workers and the upsurge of insecurity in the Niger Delta region especially Akwa Ibom State, confirmed meetings with both the Akwa Ibom State governor and management of Mobil Producing over the matter.
According to him: “What happens is that as normal safety standard, any time we have people on the platform, we identify their number by head count. But after that incident of that day, we discovered that we had eight people missing. Nobody knows exactly what those that abducted them must have done with the eigthth person.
We are surprised that those that abducted them are claiming that they have just seven people. We do not know what must have happened. Maybe one person escaped from them or something terrible has happened. We do not know. But as far as we are concerned, we are looking for eight people on our platform.
Those people were there before the attack. We hope nothing terrible has happed to any one of them because after the attack, there were traces of blood and blood stains around the area.
The state of kidnappings in Akwa Ibom is taking a very dangerous dimension and if care is not taken, the entire workers in the industry might be forced to pull out of the state.
However, we are engaging the government and today (last night). We are engaging the state governor, and others. But if by Friday, there is no clue to the location and safety of our members, we, both NUPENG and PENGASSAN, would have no choice than that to pull out oil workers from the state and shut down the over 640 Barrel of production from Mobil producing as a start. If the insecurity of our members continues, we will move to other locations.
You recall that in the past, we have engaged government on several occasions and till now, everything they promised are undone. When we looked at what it would cost Nigeria, that was why we did not embark on strike the last time we wanted to embark on strike.
But if speed boats can go as far as that in Oso off-shore location and kidnapped people without any resistant from government, that is security operatives, that tells us that our lives is in danger and that is why there is serious fear now engulfing the entire workers in that region. So, we have taken a decision that by Friday, if those workers are not located and safety ensured, we will have not other choice to pull oor members from the state.”
It could be recalled that militants on Sunday night attacked Exxonmobil Oso Gas and Condensate platform and kidnapped eight workers.
Vanguard gathered that the unspecified number of kidnappers stormed the platform in six speed boats and attacked it shooting with various weapons of destruction for about ten minutes and shooting sporadically.
According to source, security at the platform initially responded for few minutes, but later stopped to prevent the whole complex being consumed by fire and did what is known as ESD, Emergency Shut Down as a precautionary measure.
At the time of this report, no communication had been established with either the kidnappers or the victims and there fears that the victims might have been take to Cameroon because the platform is close to a border town.
President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, had explained that “the kidnappers that stormed the platform around 10pm last night with six speed boats armed with various weapons of destruction and shooting sporadically to the air and it only took the braveness and ingenuity of the staff to shut down the platform that has installed capacity of 80kb condensate and 60kb NGL ,as at this period we have not been able establish contact with the abductors.
At the time of this attack 74 people were on board while eight people kidnapped.”