Rawlings Ete, the Paramount Ruler of Oyorokoto, a fishing community in Andoni Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers, has ordered Amni Pet/Shelf Drilling Company to immediately suspend drilling operations in the community.
Ete gave the order in a two-week notice dated April 15 and addressed to the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Content Development Management Board (NCDMB), located in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital.
He stated in the notice that the suspension became necessary following the company’s alleged failure to initiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Oyorokoto, its host community.
Ete further stated in the notice that the suspension would take effect from April 29, until the company met the community’s demand.
He contended that Amni had for 25 years refused to sign an MOU that would document the company’s corporate responsibilities to her host as permitted by law.
He alleged that not only did the company abandon its corporate responsibilities to the community, it had continued operations without regard to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) laws.
The monarch therefore sought the NCDMB’s “urgent intervention to save our soul from the unethical conduct and oppression by Amni Pet/ Shelf Drilling and a possible breakdown of law and order in Andoni Territory.”
“As the regulator of the oil industry, we wish to appeal that you use your good offices to unravel the following mysteries and avail us answers.
“We seek to know whether it is lawful for Amni Pet to commence drilling operations without conclusion of a verified Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report?
“Is it right that an EIA report be surreptitiously done or approved without any community input?
“We are also curious to know whether it is right that Amni Pet/Shelf Drilling commence drilling operations without a single Oyorokoto community youth engaged by the company.
“Lastly, is it lawful for Oyorokoto community not to be accorded its lawful rights as an impacted or host community to the Tubu Field (OML 52) where Amni Pet/Shelf Drilling is currently operating?’’
Ete said the community might be compelled to embark on peaceful protest and picketing of the Port Harcourt office of the company from May 3, should it fail to comply with the community’s demand.
In a swift reaction, Mr Wale Olafiasan, the company’s Managing Director, said the company had for over 20 years made positive impact on the community through its corporate responsibility projects.
Olafiasan said the company had a committee, headed by Chief Job Okuruket, the Paramount Ruler of Ngo Town, a first-class chief and the area’s supreme leader, through which the needs of the people were regularly met.
“Presently, we have over 30 students from the area on our scholarship, we have built jetties and other infrastructure to better the lives of the people of Andoni LGA, which is our host,’’ he said.
He said that the company’s drilling operation was collectively described and treated as located on Andoni shores, and not on the shores of any distinct community in Andoni.
He, therefore, advised Oyorokoto community to consult with Okuruket for relevant clarifications.
Commenting on the development, Okuruket said that he was the only legitimate leader to either make request or complaints on the company’s operations on the shores of Oyorokoto fishing community.
He, however, declined comment on the performance of the company in terms of its corporate social responsibility to the community. (NAN)