BusinessDay

Trouble brews over OML 25 as Kula leaders take ‘final’ position

…ignore Governor Wike’s order, stage protest in Port Harcourt

Trouble is brewing in Kula Community, close to the Atlantic Ocean, over right of operation of Oil Mining Licence 25 in Akuku-Toru Local Council Area of Rivers State, as leaders of the area have pointedly turned down appeals by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, to allow the operators resume work.

The governor had last Saturday, June 22, 2019, ordered the various factions to sit down and resolve the matter to allow operations resume. A meeting fixed for Tuesday, June 25, 2019, at the Hotel Presidential, however broke down and a stern position emerged from the Kula leaders.

Instead, the leaders, one by one, said Shell should leave their area and hand over to Belemaoil, owned by a son of the community.

Addressing a crowded press conference at the Atlantic Hall of the Hotel Presidential, the leaders said they were shocked to sit for over three hours without Governor Wike or any representative coming to address them.

They said they had resolved that Shell who had won back the licence must divest to Belemaoil, saying the women occupying the oilfield would remain there for as long as it would take.

The spokesman of the community, Fiala Okoye-Davies, reading a prepared address, accused Shell of using a particular political party and the chairman of the local council to forcefully invade Kula. They interpreted the one-week ultimatum to be a prelude to a military crackdown and warned that violence would follow any such move.

He said: “We remain resolute, we remain united and committed to the dream of economic liberalisation, education of our youth, emancipation from the shackles of slave masters who have destroyed all our aquatic livelihood with their oil pollution and wanting to sell their assets and hand us over to an unknown new slave master.”

They revealed the crux of the matter to what they said was a plan for Shell to divest and hand over to an oil company other than Belemaoil.

They rejected any further meeting in Port Harcourt but Kula, should the governor be interested, but insisted that it was the Federal Government and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that would have to lead in any further discussions.

They expressed sadness that the former Petroleum Minister went behind to issue licence to Shell on OML 25 after listening to the Kula case, and that the whole area might explode if government decides to use of force.

The said the Rivers State government remained silent all the years that Shell was flouting agreements on OML 25.

The protest planned by the community youths up to Garrison Area was stopped when police vans drove into the hotel with stern looking policemen taking positions. The youths decided to display their placards right inside the hotel.

 

Ignatius Chukwu