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.”


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