From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The women and youths from Opu-Nembe and other host communities of the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Limited (Aiteo) have staged a peaceful protest demanding for a refund of the alleged crude oil diverted from its oil fields.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Aiteo are currently locked in a bitter dispute over circumstances surrounding the diversion of the crude oil at the Bonny Crude Export Terminal.
The communities on Tuesday armed with placards with inscriptions such as ‘Shell: stop stealing Aiteo’s crude oil’.’DPR: caution Shell for stealing crude oil’ and Shell is short-changing Nembe people’ called on the Federal Government to prevail on Shell to respect the report of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the ruling of the Federal High Court directing it to refund the money value of the alleged diverted crude oil.
The protesters led by the youth president, Mr Moses Ayerite, and woman leader, Mrs Beredugo Afuroyanate, urged the federal government to come to the aid of the community so as to enable Aiteo to sign the needed Global Memorandum of Understanding with host communities for steady power supply, social amenities and student scholarships.
‘What we were told was that the SPDC allegedly short-changed of crude since 2016 till date has grossly affected their (Aieto) financial capability to enter into a GMoU with the host communities. We call on Shell to pay Aiteo because we want our GMoU signed for corporate social responsibility to the people.’
Meanwhile, in a press conference addressed at the NUJ press centre, representatives of the aggrieved communities led by Dr Alabodite George and Mr Patrick Ndaikienyu said that their interest in the matter borders on the negative implication for the host communities. ‘Diverting the crude oil and depriving Aiteo of the financial benefits of same has the direct impact of depriving Aiteo of funds some of which could be utilized for the benefit of the Nembe host communities.
‘We are aware that till date Shell is yet to refund the crude oil to Aiteo. This is in clear disregard of the clear instructions of the DPR. The effect is that not only Aiteo but also Bayelsa State and by extension the nation of Nigeria is being short-changed in this affair by Shell. It is our duty to draw attention to the adverse effects of this entire affair on our communities and the economy of Bayelsa State,’ they stated.