…vow to protect peoples’ rights, lives, livelihoods
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives on Monday said that some of the multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta were enslaving the host communities.
The House, therefore, declared an end to any form of slavery, vowing to protect the rights, lives and livelihoods of the people of the coastal region.
The Chairman, House Committee on Communities, Hon. Dumnamene Dekor made the declaration at a Stakeholders and the General Public Interactive Session held at the national assembly complex.
The meeting was meant to engage the oil companies on many allegations of marginalization and other related matters raised over time by the oil host communities.
The Chairman who expressed regrets over the non-appearance of many companies invited before the committee warned against treating the lawmakers with levity.
Dekor also charged the companies to make all the relevant documents conveying their position on the issues available to the Committee to also enable it to engage the host communities.
He said: “It appears that the same level of levity with which the host communities are treated is the same kind of extension they are bringing here and we take exception to that. And so, for those companies that have no submissions and those we are expecting to bring their submissions and even those who have done their submissions, by the next hearing, we hope to see your MDs and it does appear you were aware that we are even on a short break but you can see the members who have come out today for this hearing.
“Some people came from Lagos this morning because of this hearing and if you don’t attach that level of importance to this hearing, then, it means you are not ready to operate and also let us intervene in the issues that affect these host communities.
“We will no longer accept slavery because what I think most of the companies are doing, they are enslaving people and we won’t take it any more. We have the right to protect their rights, lives and livelihoods and we will stop at nothing in doing that.
“So, this one is a bit of caution to all the companies. And for those companies who have not appeared before us today, we believe that at the next hearing the companies will come.
“We have asked for documents and we gave you more than two weeks and yet, we don’t have those documents before us. We are not robots. What you bring to us is also going to enable us to engage the host communities which is also in your interest but you have just decided to flout the request, not to honour what has asked from you.
“I understand some of you are trying to dodge. It won’t work. That’s very true”.
Though a few of the oil companies appeared, the hearing was however adjourned to Wednesday, May 19, 2021, for continuation.