By Perez Brisibe
TUOMO — BOMADI, Tuomo and Ayamasa communities in Delta and Bayelsa States, at loggerheads with the Nigeria Agip Oil Company, NAOC, over a rupture, July, on the Tuomo/Ogbonbiri gas pipeline, have alleged that officials of the company tried to entice their representatives with money to falsify the details of a Joint Investigation Visit, JIV.
However, an official of the Community Relations Office of NAOC, who spoke to NDV on condition of anonymity, asserted that it was a cock-and-bull story, as the company never attempted to compromise anybody.
Communities point fingers at oil firm: The communities in a statement by the chairmen, Community Development Committee, CDC, for Bomadi, Ayamasa and Tuomo communities, Messrs. Joseph Bekesouyeibo, Zipamone Teddy and Demobo Joseph respectively, stated: “Officials from Agip tried to persuade and cajole us financially to sign the JIV report, but we refused, telling them that the report does not reflect the true picture of what happened, hence we did not sign it, and so it is totally false for them to say we did.”
Trouble erupted between the communities and Agip after the July 11 gas pipeline fire, following claims and counter-claims on the cause of explosion. Sources from the affected communities claim that the company’s engineers, who mobilized to the scene of the rupture two weeks after the July 11 incident to repair the pipeline to avoid more harm to the environment, escalated the problem, only to heap the blame on the hapless villagers.
They disclosed that the pipeline which transverse the areas was already deadbeat and it was the resultant leakage that sparked the inferno, bemoaning that instead of owning up, the oil multinational was looking for every means possible to blame it on external factor.
It’s third party interference—NAOC official
An official of the Community Relations Office of NAOC, who preferred anonymity, told NDV: “The pipeline in question is a gas line and the content escaped into the atmosphere unlike oil that is spilled into the surrounding land, destroying crops.”
He said: “A Joint Investigation Visit, JIV, was conducted with representatives of the communities and it was discovered that the cause of the leakage was as a result of an external factor. Mind you, we have previously noticed third party interference on the line which has been hack sawed on several occasions. There was no environmental damage as claimed by the communities because the leaked product escaped into the atmosphere without damaging plants in the area. At the end of the JIV, a report was presented and the CDC chairmen from the three affected communities appended their signature on it.”
CDC chairs faults JIV report
Describing the JIV report which they refused to sign as inconclusive, the chairmen said: “We were not consulted, the dimension of land affected by the incident was not stated and the report excluded the fire outbreak incident that damaged cash crops and economic trees in the affected areas.
“There was a fire at the scene of the incident, which damaged farm crops in the area. It was the fire that attracted locals from the community to the scene of the incident and that was how we knew what was happening.
“For two weeks before they came to repair the pipeline, the entire environment was polluted with gas and you could hardly breathe in the area.”
“Officials from Agip tried to persuade and cajole us financially to sign the JIV report, but we refused, telling them that the report does not reflect the true picture of what happened, hence we did not sign it, and so it is totally false for them to say we did,” they said.