Youths of Otuasega community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State are protesting over three members of their community reportedly missing and believed to have been allegedly shot by security operatives attached to Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC).
Trouble started on Friday, September 3, when a truck carrying a swamp buggy machine was accosted by the youths who demanded two tippers of chippings to be poured on the deplorable portions of their road which had been damaged due to frequent plying of the Otuasega-Imiringi road by heavy-duty machines belonging to contractors of Shell.
It was gathered that during a peaceful negotiation with owners of the machines on the chippings, one of them alerted the security personnel attached to a nearby Shell-owned oil facility who came and started shooting sporadically, causing serious commotion that led to the disappearance of the three youths.
Speaking to our correspondent during the protest, chairman of the Otuasega Community Development Committee (CDC), Mr. Raniyar Marcus confirmed the incident and condemned the action of the oil company.
He said: “We discovered that the heavy-duty machines have really destroyed the road; so, we only pleaded with the Shell contractors to come and pour chippings on the road.
“While we were still discussing, a particular man who is always seen around where the soldiers are guarding Shell gas line, a surveillance man that is doing the gas work, left and came back with two soldiers and one Civil Defense Corp and shot at us indiscriminately.
“As we speak to you, three of our community boys are still missing, we don’t know their whereabouts. While searching for them in the bush, we only saw a cellphone belonging to one of them.
“We are demanding for our missing youths and the soldiers that shot at them. I had gone to the Shell camp and complained about what has happened to the commander there and he said he was sorry over what has happened and promised to call the commander at the gas line.
“But when I got to the gas line, the commander there said he did not know me and that he was not going to discuss with me”, he added.
Also speaking, youth president of the community, Comrade Ogubio Moses, who described the incident as unfortunate, called on the federal and Bayelsa State governments to wade into the matter and ensure that justice was done for the sake of peace.
The aggrieved youths barricaded the Shell gas line manifold along the Otuasega-Imiringi road and threatened to shutdown the facility if their demands were not met.
They were also seen chanting war songs and carrying placards bearing inscriptions such as ‘we want to see our missing brothers,’ ‘Shell stop intimidating us with military men,’ ‘we are host communities, not slaves,’ ‘SPDC stop destroying our roads,’ ‘we are entitled to good roads and electricity,’ and so on.
The protest which lasted into the night on Friday caused obstruction of vehicular movements as the protesting youths blocked the Imiringi-Otuasega road, leaving road users stranded.