By FESTUS AHON
UGHELLI— EKRERHAVWEN youths and women, numbering over 500, yesterday, barricaded the gates of Beta Glass Company, Plc, Ughelli, Delta State, following the alleged refusal of the company to pay compensation for the land it acquired from the community, over 37 years ago.
The protesters, who stormed the company premises said the protest was necessitated by the alleged non compliance with the seven-day ultimatum issued the company on their grievances over non-payment of the compensation to land owners and non employment of indigenes of the community.
They asked the company to vacate the land, if it does not want to comply with their demands, adding that they would not stop protesting until their demands were met. Lamenting that their people were not employed by the company.
They said the one week ultimatum issued to the company had expired on August 30, and that the company had no regard for its host community.
The protesters who chanted songs of dissatisfaction with the glass company and carried placards with inscriptions such as; “No excuse, compensate us or leave our land;” “Beta Glass is insincere;” “Compensate us today;” among others, alleged that the company was insensitive to their plight.
Chairman of land owners association in the community, Mr. Premier Anibor, said the land was acquired from them in 1973 under the defunct Bendel State Government with a promise that their children would be given employment and 50 per cent of contracts in the company would be awarded to them as land owners.
Anibor said that the defunct Bendel State Government subleted the land to Beta Glass Company in 1974, lamenting “the company fraudulently took the land from the state government without the consent of the land owners and since then, nothing good has been done for us, the land owners.
“As peace loving people, we wrote a petition to the Delta State Government on the situation in 2010 and the state Ministry of Justice was instructed to step into the matter for dialogue and negotiations.
“After series of meetings were held in October last year, one of the lawyers to the company told us that the company was not prepared to pay compensation to the land owners, and thereafter, they walked away,” he added.