…Give oil company 2 weeks to implement Senate resolution
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—INDIGINES of oil-producing communities in Niger Delta, yesterday, took their protest over non-compliance with the Senate resolution by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, on payment of N6.9 billion to Niger Delta communities to Abuja.
The protesters, under the aegis of Unity Fountain, Abuja, threatened that they may resort to destroying the company’s assets in the whole Niger Delta if the money was not released to the benefitting communities by the oil giant within two weeks effective from yesterday.
Brandishing placards and banners with different inscriptions, the protesters vowed to go after the company’s facilities in the Niger Delta region if the resolution of the upper chamber of the National Assembly was not adhered to within two weeks.
Chief Odede Hezekiah, Chief of Opolo Community in Bayelsa State, who addressed journalists at the protest ground, said they would have mobilised the people of the area to go after SPDC’s facilities to express their grievances but settled for protest in Abuja to draw attention of not only President Muhammadu Buhari but the entire Nigerians to the development.
He said: “We are giving them just two weeks from now, if they don’t respect the Senate resolution, anything can happen. We are giving them two weeks to pay the money meant to cover between 2014 and 2023.
“Let them pay the whole money they are owing to the whole Niger Delta communities, that is why we are here if not, something will happen to their facilities. We want President Buhari to hear everything before we take our action.”
Also speaking, Mr Ayigba Shedrack, who identified himself as representing Azagbene community of Bayelsa State, said: “The Senate passed a resolution directing that they should pay N600,000 per hectare of land per annum to every host community in Niger Delta.
“But as I am talking to you, they paid us N200,000 unlike what they paid the Forcados, Borny and others in Port-Harcourt. Our people are agitated and when we go back, anything can happen.”
It will be recalled that the Senate had, in April, this year, directed SPDC to respect its earlier resolution which mandated it to pay N6, 936,899,900 to some oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta region.
The fresh directive followed a protest by people of the affected communities, who lamented the refusal of the SPDC to comply with the resolutions of the Senate.
A firm, Bekele Jones and Associates had sent a petition to the upper chamber, to complain about the non-payment of the accumulated rentals and expired leases.
The firm specifically lamented the non-payment of the outstanding rentals for the Port Harcourt Oloibiri pipeline, the Oloibiri field, and the entire Utapate/Akwa Ibom fields.
On receipt of the petition, the Senate leadership through the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly conveyed its position to the oil firm.
The letter, dated March 4, 2019, and signed by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, was addressed separately to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mustapha Boss, and Managing Director, SPDC.
The Senate resolved that the firm should pay a uniform rate of N600,000 per hectare of land as rent per annum for all loss of use of surface rights from 2014.