By Festus Ahon – Asaba
The people of Benikrukru in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to obey the Nigerian Constitution by not paying the 13% oil Derivation Fund to the State Government, insisting that the fund be paid to them directly.
The people in a letter, addressed to President Buhari and made available to newsmen, noted that the impact of the ones paid to the state government in past years was not being felt by them.
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Benikrukru, which is a community in Gbaramatu Kingdom, host the Abiteye Flow Station. The people in the letter, which was signed by Chief Godwin Olufemi, Prince Isaiah Gbenekama and Pa Ogio Okirika, who are Chairman, Secretary and Amakosuwei (oldest man) of Benikrukru community, respectively, insisted that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, has prescribed that 13% of the proceeds made from Abiteye Flow Station should be given directly to the community.
Saying that the payment of the fund was envisaged by the Constitution to be in lieu of the losses that oil producing communities would suffer in terms of their environmental and economic livelihoods, the community lamented that the system that had paid the fund through the state governments had defeated the motive.
Hear them: “It is therefore clear, constitutionally and legally, that 13% Derivation Fund belongs exclusively to the oil and gas producing communities as compensation for loss of fishing rights and farm lands as a result of oil exploitation and production activities.
“Accordingly, 13% of oil revenue produced in Abiteye Flow Station is our entitlement and should be paid directly to the host communities. The present practice of paying the 13% Derivation Fund through the state governor is therefore illegal and unconstitutional.
“The present practice has also brought untold hardship and abject poverty to the communities, we can no longer continue with the present system as there is nothing to show in our communities for all the years of payment of the 13% Derivation Fund through the state governors”.