Akwa Ibom youths protest, shut ExxonMobil over alleged marginalization

By Chioma Onuegbu

THE indigenes of Ibeno local government area of Akwa Ibom state, have demanded due consultation and comprehensive audit from ExxonMobil on the restoration of their land before any divestment would happen.

This is contained in a communique issued yesterday at the end of a townhall meeting organised for the oil rich community by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) namely “We the People (WP), Policy Alert, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), among others titled: “Exxon Mobil Cannot ‘Divest’ Without Ecological, Livelihood and Health Restoration”

The people described as criminal and unfair the plan by ExxonMobil to sale its assets to Seplat Energy, and to leave without cleaning the mess it created in the host community where it has extracted crude oil since 1961.

They expressed sadness and disappointment
that in the last few weeks that controversy over the planned divestment raged, that
they have not been consulted and no reference has been made to the Ibeno people as the major community that has hosted ExxonMobil over the decades, neither

The communique stressed: “The company and the government have not deemed it appropriate to ask; what do Ibeno communities think about the planned departure of Exxonmobil?

“Divestment moves are happening all over the Niger Delta region in the shadows and without the knowledge of oil producing communities.
But for Ibeno people, no divestment should be discussed without restoration; and no divestment should happen without the due consultation of the people.

” After 61 years of reckless oil extraction, it is criminal for the company to just walk away. Men cannot perform any long, and women cannot bear any longer. We cannot drink water from rain, stream or boreholes.

“To extract accountability and justice, we demand an immediate and comprehensive audit of the Ibeno community.

“This audit should cover environmental, livelihood, health, social and economic impacts of crude oil and gas extraction, and should be immediately followed by the remediation of impacted places, restoration of human and ecological damages caused by extraction activities, and reparations for the irreversible damages caused by oil extraction.

“We also demand that the federal government immediately produce a framework and guide on how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated. This should be done in collaboration with the Ibeno people and all other oil producing communities of the Niger Delta.

“Adequate and due consultation must be initiated with the Ibeno people as critical stakeholders in decisions related to the hydrocarbon deposits located in their community”

The community also demanded that Exxonmobil must settle all outstanding judgement claims and compensation obligations to host communities, implement a detailed decommissioning and abandonment plan, or show evidence of savings in dedicated accounts for the decommissioning Fund, before the conclusion of any sales before leaving.

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