By Chancel Sunday
TRADITIONAL ruler of Tuomo federated community in Burutu Local Government area, Delta state, Chief Gimba Tamani, yesterday, led his subjects to lay siege to the Nigeria Agip Oil Company, NAOC’s field station in the riverine settlement over the firm’s alleged refusal to implement a flow station project in the area.
The placard-carrying villagers, who stormed the company’s station in early hours of yesterday locked up its well-head and gate and occupied the premises. Some of the placards read: “Agip, Tuomo people say no to cheating,” “No flow station, no Agip in Tuomo,” “No light, no Agip” and “Enough is enough, leave our land,Agip.”
Chief Tamani said: “This is a peaceful protest against Agip over neglect in the past years; we are here because we have been taken for granted by Agip.”
“We have come to stay at Agip station here and we will not leave except Agip comes down personally to Tuomo for negotiation. We were told that this is gas field, but now we have discovered that it is oil field and no single benefit has accrued to this community.
“We want Agip to commence the long-awaited flow station project, we want jobs for our youths, we want internal roads, potable water and a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) which Agip has failed to fulfil,” he said.
Tuomo community chairman, Hon. Timi Andaye and Youth President, Comrade Gabriel Bekesuoyeibo, who also participated in the protest, said, Agip had deceived the community enough for the past 40 years with nothing to show, and abandoned the flow station project supposedly for the community, while piping oil to Ogboinbiri flow station in Bayelsa state. The women among the protesters, led by chair-lady of the community, Mrs Maria Nisama, said that they had already moved pots, spoons, pans and other cooking utensils to the company’s site to cook for their husbands and children until Agip responded.
The Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Tuomo clan, headed by Osuwo Port-Harcourt, who also mobilized youth for the protest, described the action of Agip as an oppression in the highest order.
Elders of the community, who also joined the protest, vowed that they would sleep at the site and would not go back to their houses until Agip was ready to address them.
Speaking for the elders, Chief Akpola Ekperi stated they were not ready to go to either Port-Harcourt or any other place for negotiation, noting, “Agip must come to us here.”