Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, has assured Ejamah and other host communities of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 that the government will defend their rights in any legal battle over the oil facility acquired by the state.
Speaking during a thank-you visit by the leaders of Ejamah community of Eleme Local Government Area at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike commended the community for standing firm and fighting through established due process.
“While I remain governor, one thing I will never do is sell the interest of our people. The property of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) were auctioned and the Rivers State Government bided and acquired them.
“There will be legal battles. The Rivers State Government will stand for Rivers people,” he said.
He reiterated that with the acquisition of the 45 percent stakes of SPDC at OML 11, the Rivers State Government will extend some percentage to the host communities to give them a sense of belonging.
He praised Ejamah community for engaging in the legal battle for 29 years and refusing to be swayed by financial proposals by SPDC.
“I am ready for the legal battle. The interest of Rivers State must be protected at all times. Rivers State Government acquiring OML 11. OML 11 is not only for Ogoni, it extends to Okrika, Andoni, Oyigbo and Ikwerre.
“Any community linked to OML 11 should be eternally grateful to you. I know some communities that only N300 million will change them. Your refusal to collect N7 billion led to the auctioning of Shell interest.
“If the Federal Government wants to talk, it should talk with Rivers State Government, because we have acquired Shell’s interest. I am with you. God knows, I have no personal interest,” the governor said.
He recommended Ejamah community style, which is based on legal struggles to other communities, saying without violence, Ejamah community defeated SPDC in the courts.
He said no matter the SPDC schemes, the Supreme Court judgment must be implemented. The governor commended the community lawyer, Lucius Nwosu (SAN), for his trustworthiness.
Governor Wike formally recognised Ejamah community traditional ruler as a second class chief. He also directed the reconstruction of Ebubu Community Secondary School.
The Ejamah community leader, George Osaro, said the people were happy with the governor’s intervention in OML 11.
He described Wike as a pace setter, a visionary leader and emancipator of the people.
The community later conferred ‘Oneh Owese Oboru Ejamah’ chieftaincy title on the governor.