From Joe Effiong, Uyo
Host communities to ExxonMobil have introduced another hurdle into the already complicated planned sale of the oil company’s shallow water assets to Seplat Energy to the tune of $1.3 billion.
While the Akwa Ibom State government had already issued a caveat warning prospective buyers and the general public that the planned sale as purportedly approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, as the minister of petroleum resources, could amount to contempt of court since there are subsisting suits relating to the transaction, Ibeno LGA, the host community to the IOC has given a near impossible condition to the oil company never to leave their community without restoring their land to its status quo ante.
Arising from a communique unanimously signed by both youths, men and women of the area shortly after a town hall meeting organised by We the People (WP), Policyalert, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, among other NGOs in Ibeno on Monday, they said Mobil cannot divest without cleaning up their community after decades of exploration.
They demanded an immediate and comprehensive audit of the Ibeno community.
According to the Communique, “This audit should cover environmental, livelihood, health, social and economic impacts of crude oil and gas extraction, and should be immediately followed by the remediation of impacted places, restoration of the human and ecological damages caused by extraction activities, and reparations for the irreversible damages caused by oil extraction.”
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It reads: “The federal government should immediately produce a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated.
“This should be done in collaboration with the Ibeno people and all other oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta.
“Adequate and due consultation must be initiated with the Ibeno people as critical stakeholders in decisions related to the hydrocarbon deposits located in their community.
“That before ExxonMobil must divestment all outstanding memorandum of understanding with host communities, undertake post-operation environmental and health assessment and restoration, settle outstanding judgment claims and compensation obligations to host communities.
“They should implement a detailed decommissioning and abandonment plan, or show evidence of savings in dedicated accounts for the Decommissioning Fund, before the conclusion of any sales,” the communique added.