Hundreds of indigenes of 14 communities in Nembe and Brass local government areas in Bayelsa State over the weekend barricaded the offshore facilities belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to protest their neglect by the oil firm.
The angry natives led by their chiefs, traditional rulers, youth leaders, women, and community leaders, took their protest to the facilities of Oil Mining Licence (OML) 77-3D located in their territorial waters.
The protesters, who hail from Odioma, Ibidi, Ewoma, Okpoma, Twon Brass, Beletiama, Liama, Diema, Okumbiribeleu, Opu-Okumbiri, Oginibiri and Sangana say the company should stop its operation and address their grievances to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
They said they are protesting after all efforts to get the company to address their demands failed to yield the expected results.
They also insist that it was unfair for the SPDC to continue its operation without reaching a proper understanding with its host communities.
A former youth secretary in Brass, Michael Samuel, said Shell began its offshore operations without consulting 14 communities surrounding their facilities.
Michael wondered why a company as big as Shell would sideline traditional rulers, youths and women as well as other stakeholders in their operations.
“We have exhausted all avenues to get the company listen to our demands to no avail. We went to Port Harcourt in Rivers State many times to meet with the management of Shell on this issue without getting positive results,” he said.
“This protest is to tell Shell that we won’t tolerate the way they came into an area surrounding our communities. We want the company to know that we have stakes in what they are doing and they can’t treat us this way. We are peace-loving people and we want the oil firm to come and hold discussions with us.”
A community leader from Odioma, Obolo Benjamin, warned Shell against continuing with its operations without consulting the communities.
“SPDC is operating offshore across 14 communities without consulting us. The company did not give us the right of way. The oil company decided to use one person to sideline, neglect and marginalise every individual around our territory. He collected what is due us for himself alone,” he said.
A personnel who identified himself as Oscar One commended the residents for their peaceful disposition, noting that their demands would be conveyed to the management of the oil company.