The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has warned of a looming crisis if the Federal Government fails to heed agitation by indigenes of Kula not to renew the lease of OML 25 in favour of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary, Anabs Sara-Igbe, who accused a top Akuku-Toru Local Council official and Shell of acting in connivance with the military, said the people of Kula are willing to protect their land against inhuman exploitation in any of the five oil blocks within their land.
Sara-Igbe said the invasion of the OML 25 (Belema oilfield) by the military with five naval gunboats and seven speed boats last Saturday was an attempt to induce crisis, intimidate and arm-twist the people of Kula Kingdom.
“The people of Kula are no strangers to Shell’s antics, hence their common resolve to banish SPDC from further operation in their territory. They are consequently appealing to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), NAPIMS, NNPC and the Federal Government not to renew the lease of OML 25 in 2019 in favour of SPDC. The people of Kula Kingdom are willing to protect their land with the very last drop of their blood against SPDC’s inhuman exploitation in any of the five oil blocks within their territory,” he said.
Sara-Igbe said the crisis started last year when Offoinama, Ngeje, Kilama, Diaba and Okoama communities, among other host-communities, met and made several unsuccessful attempts to convince Shell to reconsider its corporate social responsibility.
Meanwhile, Shell has denied claims linking it to reported incident of clashes between a group of invaders who had for the past one year occupied its production facilities at Belema Flow Station and Gas Plant.
Its Media Relations Manager, Bamidele Odugbesan, said a group of people invaded the facilities last year and illegally remained in occupation of the facilities since then, thus impacting on the revenues of the state and the Federal Government.
“The group has so far rebuffed all entreaties to resolve their grievances through dialogue but has instead demanded immediate transfer of ownership and operatorship of the facilities to their preferred indigenous oil firm under the pretext that SPDC has over the years neglected the interest of the local community,” he said.