Upland communities in Rivers State have picketed the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Total Energy and other oil multinationals operating in the area over their non inclusion on the pipeline Surveillance job. The body, Association of Niger Delta Upland Communities, staged a protest at Rumuekpe Community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, demanding that part of the Pipeline Surveillance Contract be given to them. The association claimed that over N19.2 billion that would have been paid to them for about eight months that the contract has lasted if they job was given to them should immediately be released to the communities, saying that they have mandated General Amagbein to be in charge of all the contract negotiations.
The protesters, yesterday, who barricaded the access road leading to the oil facilities in the area, said they want to take part in securing the pipeline in their area, criticising the federal government for awarding the surveillance job to one man. Speaking, the Secretary of the body, wisdom Otei, said the people were not happy that they were not taking seriously in the pipeline Surveillance job, adding that it was wrong for one man to be given the surveillance contract. “We are here for a peaceful protest and we want our mandate to be given back to us. They should give us our right. Our mandate is being stolen by warlords. We want them to pay us the same money they have been paying for the contract, because we have been securing our area. How can you bring somebody from Ijaw land to come and secure a facility that is in our land. The Trans-Niger pipeline that supplies crude to Bonny terminal comes from here and we are neglected.”
However, the leader of the Niger Delta Upland Communities, Hon. Isa Obiri, said the community would not allow oil exploration to continue if they are not drafted to take part in the pipeline surveillance. Obiri alleged that the military who were mobilised to the protest ground arrested two of the protesters, adding the protesters had remained resolute and peaceful in pressing down their demands. He said “as you can see the people are angry with the whole process, that is why you can see men, women and youths are here. Our main demand is that 19.2 billions arrears illegally diverted in the pipeline surveillance job be paid to us. The contract has lasted for eight months and we have two segments and each month we should be paid N4 billion arrears. The contract should be returned to upland communities. The NNPC should immediately release the contract to the upland communities. If they don’t do this we will not allow them operate here again. Again over 150 people have died illegally because the contract has not been efficient in our area, we want the government to pay damages for the deaths.”