Chevron Oil-well fire: Delta community vows not to concede its land to Ondo

Chevron Oil-well fire: Delta community vows not to concede its land to Ondo

Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State has vowed to resist alleged schemes by Chevron Nigeria Limited to cede parts of their land to their Ilaje neighbours in Ondo State. The community made its position known during a meeting organised by the Delta State government among leaders and elders of

Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State has vowed to resist alleged schemes by Chevron Nigeria Limited to cede parts of their land to their Ilaje neighbours in Ondo State.

The community made its position known during a meeting organised by the Delta State government among leaders and elders of the community on one side and representatives of Chevron on the other side. They gathered to discuss ongoing faceoff between the two sides over a facility location and an inferno raging on it.

Recall that fire had broken out on an oil-well in the area since April 18. However, the situation had also sparked a heated disagreement between Polobubo leadership and the oil multinational, over the designation of the facility on fire; while the community identified it as Ikpalapkala-Bou oil-well, located in their Ijaw community in Delta State, Chevron has insisted that the facility is Ojumale oil-well, located in Ondo State.

The community was represented by the hierarchy of the Polobubo (Tsekelewu) National Council (PNC) , including its National President, Mr. Ebilate Mac-Yoroki; the General Secretary, Mr. Midwest Kukuru; former President, Mr. Edmund Tiemo; one of the clan heads of Egbema, Chief Matthew E. O. Tiemo and Hon. Dickson Asoki, among others.

Chevron’s management was also represented at the meeting, which held at the Delta State Government House (Annex), Warri, by Mr. Tony Emegere and Mr. Happy Appai, both of the Policy Government and Public Affairs (PGPA) Department.

Presenting the community’s position at the meeting, Mac-Yoroki expressed sadness over the unpleasant and provocative positions that Chevron’s operations and recent actions had put the people trough, urging the Delta State government to step in and defend the position of its people by prevailing on the company to take steps to remedy every wrong done to the community since it commenced operations in the area.

“The oil multinational had continued feeding the mass media and other agencies that the incident occurred in Ondo State. This is unacceptable and we will not succumb to such reckless and unsubstantiated claims.

“Your Excellency sir, the aspiration of Ondo State government to have our community under its control could be traced back to the mid-70s, resulting in the boundary disputes between Delta and Ondo states, which final decisions were made in favour of Delta State. This is a re-enactment of the past, of which we are calling on Your Excellency to passionately wade into it, as a matter of urgency to checkmate the antics of the Ondo State government.

“It will interest Your Excellency to note that your predecessors, be they military or democratically elected governments, fought relentlessly to maintain the status quo ante. On our part, it has not been without a price being paid for this struggle. Many of our patriots are martyred for this cause. We are still resolute to this day.

“Our governor, we are not safe at this point in time when our health and environment are compromised by spontaneous fire incidents, coupled with our land being threatened. The entire area here in question is christened Tsekelewu field in NNPC’s data base. See the federal oil map, there is nothing like Ojumole Oil Field”, Mac-Yoroki said.

He, however, pleaded with the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, who was represented at the meeting by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor, and the  Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the governor on Intelligence Gathering and Community Development, Captain Smart Yomi Asekutu, to, among other things, prevail on Chevron to immediately end the inferno on the facility, evaluate the level of health and environmental damage the fire had done to the community and commence immediate remediation, even as he asked for an urgent delineation of the boundaries with Ondo State to forestall border crisis.

Responding on behalf of Chevron, Mr. Emegere said the company, in a bid not to ignite communal crisis between the Ijaw of Polobubo in Delta State and Ilaje of Ondo State had been playing safe, dealing with both sides equally, adding that it would not be the duty of Chevron to determine who owns the land on which the facility is located.

Although he initially denied reports that his company had allocated the land in question to Ondo State, he was immediately called to order by leaders of the community, citing media reports that quoted a department of the company, categorically zoning the land to Ondo State.

The representative of the governor in the meeting, Mr. Mrakpor had tried to persuade the representatives of the company to see to it that immediate measures were taken to ease the negative effect of the fire on the environment and the health of the people. He, however, said he would take the message back to the governor for appropriate actions.

culled from Nation newspaper

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