By Aruoriwo Ivovi
The rift between Cluster 1 host communities of OML 26 and NPDC/FHN/AMT joint venture that led to the shutdown of the flow station operations of the Oil company by women of Ozoro community on Monday, October 12, 2020 has been resolved by the Attorney-General of the State.
In a mediation meeting presided over by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor in his chambers and attended by officials of the Oil Company and representatives of the various communities that make up cluster one in OML 26, including the President-General of Ozoro Kingdom, the Delta A-G who allowed all the parties to ventilate their grievances, told the communities to exercise their complaints and agitations within the ambit of the law.
The Attorney-General while reminding community leaders in the State on the need to obey the provisions of the Delta State Public and Private Properties Protection Law which criminalizes forceful entry and wanton destruction of public and private properties, maintained that Community President Generals’ would be held liable for infraction as according to the Justice Commissioner, forceful entry into any property is a punishable offence that attract terms of imprisonment.
Conceding that though peaceful protest was a constitutional right, the A-G, however warned against incessant public protests and shut down of oil facilities which he said was capable of breaching public peace as well as scare investors away from the State even as he reminded the communities not to forget in a hurry why Shell Petroleum Development Company relocated from the State.
While charging NDPC to be more proactive in dealing with agitations and complaints from its host communities, the Attorney-General enjoined the oil company not to wait until the problem escalates before acting even as he sued for parties to maintain a more robust relationship for their mutual benefits.
Mrapkor also called on companies in the State to conform to the provisions of the Delta State Local Content law, recently signed by the Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa that allocated a certain percentage of employment slot for indigenes in their area of operations.
The communities had accused the Operators of the NPDC/FHN/AMT joint venture of sabotaging their efforts toward securing a gas purchase deal to power a proposed construction of electricity turbines to generate power for its cluster 1 communities in the Oil Mining Lease, OML 26. The Oil Company, however, denied the allegations, saying that gas exploration was not within its operational license and jurisdiction.
It would be recalled that the cluster 1 host communities of Oil Mining Lease (OML 26) comprising of Ozoro, Ofagbe, Ellu and Ovrode communities in Isoko North Local Government Area had shut down the operations of the Oil Company following the expiration of a 7-day ultimatum issued by the cluster to the company arising from an alleged failure of the oil firm to heed to their gas purchase demand.
Meanwhile, the Manager, Community Affairs of NPDC, Mr. Blessyn Okpowo and Chief Charles Akeni who spoke on behalf of the Cluster, in their separate remarks, thanked the Attorney-General for a thorough dissecting of the matter which they said was handled satisfactorily as all parties left the venue of the meeting beaming with convivial faces.