By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—OIL Producing Communities under the aegis of Landlords of Shell Oil Producing Communities of Niger Delta, yesterday, stormed the National Assembly, protesting the non-payment of land owners by an oil company, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.
The protesters who besieged the main gate of the National Assembly Complex in Abuja yesterday, decried the discriminatory payment for land re-acquisition and rentals for land by the oil company, just as they accused the company of divide and rule.
Spokesperson of the group and former member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Isaac Onniye, who accused the company of paying N200,000 per hectare for some communities as against N600,000 to others, insisted on the payment of the differential to the affected land owners for the 2014 to 2018 payment cycle.
Onniye disclosed that the communities are drawn from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia, Imo and Rivers States.
In a petition addressed to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the group noted that both parties had earlier appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
In the petition, the communities asked the Senate to invoke Section 89(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution by issuing a warrant for the arrest of the Managing Director of SPDC “to compel his attendance to enable him come forward and explain why it had in disobedience to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions refused to obey the directive that it pays all the claims raised in the afore-captioned Petition which the SPDC Nigeria Ltd had been mandated by the said Senate Committee since December, 2017 to pay.”
The petition by U.J. Bekele, counsel to the communities, expressed regret that the company refused to appear before the committee on January 23, 2018.
Some of the placards carried by the protesters read “Shell stop divide and rule,” “Tenants (SPDC) don’t have right to impose payment on landlords,” “Shell pay landlords N600,000 per hectare difference for our 2014 – 2018 rentals shortfall,” among others.
The petition read, “We are counsel to Parsley Consult Limited and Emagu Nigeria Limited, our clients who represent several oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia, Imo and Rivers States of Nigeria.
“By the petition with the above caption dated October 20, 2017 and laid on October 25, 2017 we brought a petition to the Senate against the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd stating that, amongst several other issues, the rental payment by the company to its host communities for the 2014-2018 payment cycle was discriminatory, the company paying N200, 000 per hectare for some communities as against N600, 000 per hectare for other communities.
“The Petition was referred by the Senate to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions which Committee both parties appeared before on November 21, 2017. On that day, the Managing Director and other delegates from the SPDC Nigeria Ltd failed to satisfactorily explain the discriminatory payments.
“But the said Senate Committee magnanimously gave the SPDC Nigeria Ltd, a soft landing, mandating it to hold a meeting with the parties in that regard to harmonise the issues raised but at the meeting which the said company thereafter convened on the 29th day of November, 2017 inviting only Parsley Consult Ltd and ignoring Emagu Nigeria Ltd against the directive of the Senate Committee the said Company circumscribed what to discuss and bluntly restated their company’s initial position on all the issues raised in the Petition.
“In a bid to address this intransigence by SPDC Nigeria Ltd the company was directed by the Committee to pay all our client’s claims unfailingly in December 2017 but the said company neglected and refused to do so till date. Both parties were thereafter slated to appflear at the proceedings of the said Committee for the January 23, 2018 but the said company refused, and neglected to come.”