By FESTUS AHON
UGHELLI — DELTA State Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mr. Joseph Pirah, has appealed to host communities in Oil Mining Lease, OML, 30 not to take laws in their hands in the feud between them and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, over alleged marginalisation of their people in the award of major contracts in the on-going sale and hand over of assets by the company.
Pirah, who addressed the host communities at Ughelli during a town hall meeting with Traditional Rulers and Community Leaders Forum of OML 30 at the palace of HRM, Oharisi III, the Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom, said the state government was committed to ensuring that the demands of the communities were met.
Saying that his ministry was saddled with the responsibility of resolving conflicts between oil communities, landlords and investors in the oil sector in the state, he enjoined the people to allow the operations of Shell in their communities to go on in the interest of peace.
He promised to call a meeting between the state government, Shell and the leadership of the various communities that comprised the OML 30 for the peaceful resolution of the contentious issues, adding that peace was a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable development.
Chairman of the Interim Steering Committee, of the host communities, Chief B. Ovririe, earlier stressed the need for the suspension of the ongoing sales of the OML 30 assets until due consultation and participation had been made with the host communities through their appointed representatives.
He said: “OML 30 communities demand a stake in the purchase as we are tired of being on-lookers in the assets that are on our lands.” He asked Shell “to come from their high ground and negotiate effectively with the affected communities with regards to expired rents and leases in line with the laws of the country.”