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OML 25 crisis: Kula leaders allege $5m bribe, wash hands off Monday deal

OML 25 crisis: Kula leaders allege $5m bribe, wash hands off Monday deal

Kula community leaders, owners of the contentious Oil Mining License 25 in Akuku-Toru Local Council Area of Rivers State, have alleged that an official of the Rivers State government has received $5 million bribe from an oil giant to facilitate an agreement that may lead to reopening of Kula oil field. The leaders have also washed their hands off the equally controversial peace agreement advertised for Monday, July 1, 2019.

The deal, tabled for signing in Government House, Port Harcourt, is expected to lead to the resumption of oil operations at the Kula oil field which was shut down almost two years now, leading to loss of over N700 billions to Nigeria.
The oilfield is owned by Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje communities and their leaders have kicked against the deal, saying they were not in the negotiations that may have led to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). Shell’s license has however been renewed for another 20 years and the Rivers State government says there is no need for any other oil company to eye it and that the host communities must reach an agreement with Shell to allow operations resume.

The Kula people however want Shell to hands off the field to Belemaoil owned by their son, Jackrish Tein Jnr. This was so until the Federal Government renewed it for Shell.
Belema community of Opu-Kula (Old Shipping) has a king or Amanyanabo, Bourdillon Ekine, the Oko 28, but Hope Opusingi is claiming to be the rightful Amanyanabo. The Rivers State government and SPDC seem to agree with him and are negotiating with his own chiefs and supporters. This in itself seems to ignite more flares.

The Kula community leaders said in a press briefing on Saturday, June 29, 2019, that it was not true that Kula and SPDC had reached any deal midwifed by the Rivers State government or anybody. The leaders including the king and Amanyanabo of Opu-Kula (old Shipping), Bourdillon Allen Ekine, Oko 28, a chief-elect, Mpakaboari Welsch, and nine other chiefs bribe was at work.
The leaders said: “It is disheartening and highly preposterous that the Rivers State Government could (make such a claim) to please its new ally, Shell. It is most unfortunate that a state government that is supposed to concern itself with good governance would be this desperate to champion an illegal course to forcefully re-open an oil platform that was peacefully shutdown based on the legitimate grievances of the Host Communities.

“It is now very obvious that the Rivers State Government supports injustice, marginalization, enslavement and impoverishment of the Host Communities by the oil multinational company contrary to a recent declaration by His Excellency that Shell is responsible for the crisis in most oil producing communities in the state. The Governor had also stated that Shell with its divide and rule tactics is the major culprit of non-implementation of GMOU with Host Communities.
Accusing the state governor of making a U-turn on Shell, the leaders said: “It is important we remind the Governor his exact words when he received officials of the Netherlands High Commission to Nigeria at the Government House during a courtesy call on Friday 10th May, 2019, ‘’Unfortunately Shell Dutch Company, they are part of the major culprit, what it does is to divide communities, to make sure that communities don’t work together, for them to have their way but it boomerangs at the end of the day.

Shell does not want to obey or implement the Memorandum of Understanding they have with communities, Shell has that history of not implementing Memorandum of Understanding, even when they want to, they will go and find project that does not worth anything, it’s unfortunate, so we seek your cooperation that Shell does what it is supposed to do”.
“It is surprising that a governor, who received commendation for standing by the truth as a result of his statement against Shell, would suddenly turn around to collude with the same company to oppose our common struggle for emancipation from the decades of injustice meted out on us by Shell.
“Furthermore, we were alarmed by the decision of the Governor to intervene in the protracted dispute between us and Shell which is already been handled by the Presidency and NNPC. It is worrisome that Shell and the Rivers State government who both sent representatives to our meeting with the NNPC in Abuja on August 22, 2017 to resolve the dispute, decided to meet with the wrong people at the Government House in Port-Harcourt to resolve a matter that is already been handled by the federal government.”

The Kula leaders called on the FG, Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold the Rivers State Government and SPDC responsible should any harm come on their women and children who they said peacefully occupied the oil facility over what they termed legitimate grievances against Shell.
“We also call on the Government and good people of the home country of Royal Dutch Shell to call Shell Nigeria to order by prevailing on the company to respect the right of the Host Communities of OML25 in the interest of peace.
“We insist that we do not want SPDC any more in our land. We will continue to occupy the oil facility peacefully until our demands are met. Let the Rivers State government and Shell comes with their brute force, we are ready to die for this course. We remain resolute in our demands for the divestment of OML25 by SPDC taking into cognizance the right-of-first-refusal of the Host Communities.”