Youths protest shut down oil Exploration Company in Imo | NN NEWS

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The activities of the Sterling Global Oil Company Ltd was momentarily brought to a halt by protesting youths of the Ilile autonomous community in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State over what they described as injustice and failure of the company to pay the landowners. 

The angry youths in their large numbers had stormed the company sit to stop further exploration until all necessary things, payments, documents are made for the landowners and the communities. 

Chanting songs with their placards which carries inscriptions such as “Sterling Global Company, we don’t need war, come and settle our community”, “we say no to an injustice, stop working”, “we say no to self-appointed committees”, “we need peace, the land belongs to the community, not an individual” the youths said that until the right things are done, work at the site would not resume. 

Addressing the protesting youths, the President General of Ilile Autonomous Community, Mr Antenasus Nwagbara, decried the failure of the company to settle the community and the landowners before carrying out their exploration in their land. 

He equally condemned the use of the group he identified as cabals by the company to deny the community and the landowners their due right from the land, describing it as unfortunate that the same cabals have prevented the company from reaching the community and landowners. 

He said “the community is not aware of any payment, agreement or documentation being done.” 

The PG urged the company to as a matter of urgency come and tell them their terms of operation and job content describing it as wrong for the company to form a committee without the knowledge of the community. 

In his speech, the Youth President, Ilile autonomous community, Comrade Chibuike Nzekwe said that he was surprised to hear that the company has commenced exploration work at the site even when they have refused to settle both the community and the landowners. 

He stated the real essence of their peaceful protest which is to register their grievances to the company by stopping them from working until the right things are done. 

He said that from the look of the environment, the company has brought in their chippers, gravel and sand which is a signal for the commencement of work at the site. 

Reacting, a stakeholder in the community and owner of the access road to the site, Prince Azubuike Ekezie expressed surprise that he came home during the last Xmas period and discovered that there is an access road passing through his land to the company site without his consent. 

He added that even exploration work has commenced yet without the company making any effort to reach the owners of the land. 

According to him, he discovered that a committee has single-handedly been picked to mediate between the community and the company without his knowledge and consultation as one of the owners of the access roads. 

Prince Ekezie said that a petition was quickly made to the Inspector General of Police which was approved resulted in the arrest of the leader of the committee who was warned to stay clear of the site. 

He recalled a stakeholders meeting held recently in the community where the said committee was unanimously dissolved for reconstitution because of the reasons that they are not the choice of the community coupled with the obvious fact of non-effective representation of the community. 

He described it as unfair that a reputable oil company like Sterling Global would encroach into the community land for exploration without due consultation of the owners of the land. 

He said: “even cassava, palm trees and other valuable crops in the farm were destroyed yet without the company paying compensation to the owners.” 

Azubuike while urging the youths to be peaceful in whatever they are doing, advised the company to toll the line of peace by as a matter of necessity settling the community and landowners. 

Reacting to the issue, the Chief Security Officer of the company and the Community Liason Officer of Sterling Global Oil Company, Mr Jideofor denied all the allegations levelled against the company adding that the company did not encroach into any community land 

He said that the whole process of acquiring the land started three to four years ago adding that the company during that period met the traditional ruler of the community where every negotiation was made. 

Jideofor said that the company carried out every negotiation, documentation, payment adding that the community even was granted the right to bring an independent valuer who has full documentation, pictures and power of attorney before payment was made. 

He insisted that for a company to invest in oil must go for peace because when there is no peace, it cannot guarantee the investment. 

On the picking of committee by some people, the Liason Officer said that the company after their meeting with the owners of the land asked for an interface committee that would be there for both the community and company. 

He said that the people went back and brought a list to them with the name of PG and the Lawyer. 

The picture shows the protesting youths of the Ilile autonomous community at the Sterling Global Oil Company site over injustice and negligence of the company to the community. 

(Nigerian Tribune) 

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