Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), led by Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has opposed the planned sale of Belema oil field, OML 25, by Shell Petroleum Development Company to Chrester Nigeria Ltd.
This is even as it accused SPDC of instigating an attack by soldiers on Kula Kingdom, Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State on September 15, 2018.
While insisting on divestment from the oil field to an indigenous firm, the group warned that it would resist moves by the multinational oil company to sell it to a foreign corporate entity.
It has therefore called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, grant Niger Delta indigenes and the Niger Delta State governments who are interested, the right of first refusal in the renewal and award of oil licenses.
At a press briefing on the contentious oil field in Abuja on Monday, Clark said granting rights to an indigenous firm from states in the region would positively and rapidly impact the social and economic prosperity of the region and the country as a whole, stressing it will hugely contribute to peace and security in the Niger Delta.
The elder statesman warned that PANDEF would no longer allow oil companies to treat Niger Delta people like their slaves or the region like a toxic dumping ground without taking responsibility.
Clark called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to direct the Chief of Defense Staff and the National Security Adviser, to set up a high-powered investigative panel to uncover those behind the deployment of the naval gunboats to the OML 25 host communities in Kula Kingdom.
“SPDC must therefore put on hold any planned sale of OML 25 in the overall interest of peace and stability of the Niger Delta Region.
“SPDC must produce the report of pre-environmental impact assessment carried out before their operations and post-impact assessment to determine the state of the environment.
“This will be done in partnership with UN Environmental Protection Agency, the communities, the State and the Federal Government environmental agencies, PANDEF and SPDC.”
Clark accused SPDC of failing to honour its agreement with the host communities of OML 25, noting that it instead sold some of the flow stations in 2014 and was presently planning to sell the Belema Gas Station to Chrester Nigeria Ltd.
According to him, “Over the years, International Oil Companies exemplified by Shell have not only exploited the resources and degraded our lands; they are also taking advantage of the people, inducing unnecessary crisis and conflicts.
“Host communities of OML 25, otherwise known as Belema, Offinama, Ngeje, Kilama, Diaba, Okoama, amongst others and the entire Kula Kingdom have resolved that SPDC must divest OML 25 to an indigenous firm,” Clark added.