Ukpana community in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has slammed the sum of N117bn as compensation from the Sterling Oil Production and Exploration company over alleged trespass on their land without its consent.
It noted that there was no Environmental Impact Assessment and formal agreement made with the company before the encroachment.
The youths of the area also threatened to cause restivesness and disrupt the activities of the oil coy if they fail to pay the amount.
The Special Assistant to the President of the Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Community Network on Environment and Project Monitoring, Iniobong Akpan, stated this on Monday at the village Town Hall, Ukpana, in Onna Local Government Area of the state.
Akpan explained that the company in the process of constructing an access road to the Appraisal Wells Drilling Site in Ibotio Oil Field- OML 13, the company allegedly destroyed their means of livelihood, including farmlands, economic trees, water bodies, cementries and ancestral homes.
According to him, the destruction of ancestral homes has provoked the anger of their gods, who has continued to visit them with “unwarranted deaths” in the community.
He said, “The village has suffered an unwarranted trespass and destruction of their property perpetuated by the Sterling Oil Exploration and Production company through oil exploratory activities. The massive destruction occurred during the construction of access road to the Appraisal Wells Drilling Site in Ibotio Oil Field-OML 13 and the company’s operational base.
“The said destruction affected both economic crops and trees, streams, namely: Idim Mkpighe, Idim Uto, Etuk Enyeng, Adaha Ukim, Idim Akpan Akwa, Idim Judah etc. Also affected are swamps including Mbat James Udo, Mbat Ikang Eta etc.
“The village owned property such as oil Palm trees, raffia palms, pineapples, plantation, cementry- Uwa Iban Cementry, Iso Mbubiam, Akpa Mbiam as well as ancestral shrines- Nku-ku Ikot Inwang, Ikpaisong Ubop Owo etc were destroyed without appeasement and relocation which now cause unwarranted deaths in the community.”
He alleged that following the massive destruction the community’s land has been polluted while their streams and water bodies including aquatic lives have been destroyed causing untold hardship to the community.
Reacting to the allegations, the consultant to the company, Engr. Fabian Ebri, said the project is a federal government project owned by the Nigeria Petroleum Development company and the company is just a technical partner.
According to him, both the federal and the state governments are in the know of what is going on, adding that he does not believe both government would make such a blunder in the community.
He said, the “project is an NPDC project and the company is just a technical partner. It’s a federal government project, and I don’t believe that the federal government will commit such a blunder. Even the state government is in the know of what is happening, the federal Ministry of Environment is also in the picture and they know every bit of what is going on.
“But I have find a situation where most communities just come up with frivolous allegations in a bit to extract good money. That is going on. The lawyers too are stirring up such communities to write to get a piece of the action. All these things are going on. Normally, when they go through the lawyers to make these demands, it’s forwarded to the company’s headquarters in Lagos, who will work in collaboration with NPDC to response”, he said.