The people of Igbomoturu community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have asked the Nigerian Agip Oil Company to vacate their land following years of neglect and deprivation.
They have also asked Agip to terminate the security and pipeline surveillance contract they awarded to Darlon Security owned by a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief David Lyon, for deliberately impoverishing them.
According to them, since Agip came to their land, rather than enjoy the benefits of being a host community, they have become more impoverished as a result of lack of meaningful projects by the company on their land, no form of engagement and employment of their people, among others.
They alleged that while Agip and Lyon are enjoying the gains of their operations, making huge profits, the community has been left in ruins with the people going through hell because of the destruction of their ecosystem and acquatic lives.
The women of the community while carrying out a peaceful protest called on the Federal and Bayelsa State Government to come to their aid and end the long years of oppression, subjugation and cruelty in the hands of Agip and Lyon’s company.
The Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman of Egbematoru, Mr Ebipamene Charles, said: “Agip company has been creating enemity and causing intercommunal crisis in Igbomoturu kingdom because of their pipeline and we have never been given the contract to look after the pipeline.
“We are saying that the allegations about we attacking the company’s facilities is not true. We don’t know anything about it because we are not securing it. They gave the contract to a non indegene of the community. If they had given it to Igbomoturu people we would have secured it ourselves.
“Let them removed it from our land because from the establishment of the company, they have been causing problem forming group of people, kidnapping and burning our houses. Our brothers that have been kidnapped we haven’t found them, some have been taken and killed and we haven’t seen them yet.
“Give us our right. Government should come into this matter and settle it or else they should take their pipeline and pass it through the air. The oil has destroyed our economy, we can’t fish, our trees are damaged”.
On her part, the woman leader of the community, Koromiekumo Nimikongha said what Agip is doing can best be described as strangulation and therefore they will no longer fold their arms.
She said: “We are telling you that we are suffering. We have the land, we have the pipe and you people don’t give us the right. Now we want our right. Give us our right. Scholarships we don’t have, women are dying, boys are dying. This last crisis, they killed twenty boys, because of this pipe. So we are dying.
“Oil and Gas, David Lyon haven’t come to this community. When you are under someone, you’ll come and see how the community is doing. So give us our right let us go on by ourselves we want to do our own security. We want to look at our pipe. We want to rest and we are not resting now. Agip, the women are here. If you don’t agree then we won’t as well”.
Also speaking, Mr Joshua Bori, the General Secretary of the community, lamented that ever since Agip laid their pipeline across their land, they have not received any reasonable achievement from them.
“Agip gave this pipeline surveillance contract to one Dalon company owned by Hon. David Lyon from Olugbobiri which is not too far from here and ever since they got this contract, they’ve never done anything to benefit the Igbomoturu people.
“They know that pipeline security job has not been given to us but whenever unknown pipeline vandals temper with the pipeline, it is the Igbomoturu people they will accuse of being responsible for it.
“Recently we had a blast from a pipeline somewhere at Benikorokoro of which the Igbomoturu people don’t know anything about but the company and the contractors is accusing us of being responsible of it. They came with the military to intimidate us.They came with the military and chased all of us into the bush. That is why we are protesting against the cruelty done to the Igbomoturu people from the company and their contractors.
“Nobody from Igbomoturu has been employed, no building structures to better our people is being done. Please we are begging the world, come to our rescue come and intervene. Please show our suffering to the world”.
Our correspondent who covered the protest noticed the heavy presence of the military around the community in different gunboats, heightening the tension there.
Efforts to get the management of both Agip and Darlon Security company before filing this report was not successful but we gathered that the attention of the state government and the companies has been drawn to the ongoing protest in the community.