Delta: Probe OMl 42, Free Host Communities, Indegenes From Enslavement, IYC Tells FG

By Rejoice Egbaseimokumor

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has called on His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President Federal Republic of Nigeria to probe alleged shady operations in Oml 42 operated by NEPL/NECONDE/ AMARANTA.

The call was made on Thursday 21st of March 2024 in Warri in a press briefing organised by the Spokesman of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Amb. Binebai Yerin Princewill.

Binebai had in the briefing warned the handlers of OML 42 to give whatever contracts that is due the indigenous contractors, stressing that community workers should be treated fairly going forward as it will not be tolerated anymore.

The council alleged that Dr. Ernest Obijiesi who is the owner of Amaranta, a major company in the NEPL/NECONDE JV is using every means to frustrate the signing of contracts for indigenous contractors that have duly won various bids in the OML.

The Liberator Newspapers Worldwide can report.

The statement reads in full below:
A Press Briefing Held on this 21st Day of March 2024 in Warri Over Shady Barging Operations and Enslavement of OML 42 Host Communities and her Indigenes in Delta.

1. The Federal Government of Nigeria should be aware that while OML 30, 26, and others are pumping through the Transforcados Pipeline (TFP), only OML 42, which is closer to the TFP, has refused to pump through it because of the gains a certain cartel is making through the barging operations. Due to this pattern, the federal government of Nigeria is losing billions of dollars from that cartel’s operations, which contravenes international laws related to oil production transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption measures. The Federal Government of Nigeria should probe barging operations in OML 42. The IYC calls on the Federal Government to set up a committee to thoroughly investigate these shady operations in the OML.

2. The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has also been drawn to the unacceptable state of affairs in OML 42, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, wherein indigenous contractors and host communities have been reduced to eating crumbs by having access only to smaller contracts while strangers take it all. This marginalization violates local practices and international conventions on indigenous rights and fair labor practices.

3. It would be recalled that production in OML 42 commenced in 1969 and attained a peak gross production rate of about 250,000 bpd in 1974. Production is primarily of oil from Egwa, Batan, Odidi, and Jones Creek fields, in accordance with international regulations governing oil production and reporting standards.

4. OML 42 is currently operated by NEPL/NECONDE/AMARANTA JV owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria and Dr. Ernest Nnemeka Azudailu Obijiesi of Amaranta. The Council has been updated over time on the turn of events in the OML since the involvement of Dr. Ernest Obijiesi and his group of companies in the facility, ensuring compliance with international regulations related to joint ventures and ownership structures in the oil and gas industry.

5. It is no longer news that our people are undergoing untold hardship from Dr. Ernest and his group of companies, either through unpaid indigenous workers or denying indigenous contractors reasonable contracts in the facility. Our people are starving and exploited daily. This exploitation violates international human rights laws regarding fair labor practices and economic development.

6. Dr. Ernest Nnemeka Azudailu Obijiesi, GMD of Nestoil Group of Companies and Chairman of Obijackson, is using his companies to gain major jobs and using his boys to frustrate host communities’ contracts, contravening anti-monopoly and fair competition laws.

7. We are not oblivious to the fact that Ernest Obijiesi and his cronies are constantly violating regulations on fair bidding processes and contract enforcement. A commercial bid of Engineering flowline construction, successfully won by host community contractors since last year (2023), is being frustrated by Dr. Ernest Obijiesi’s crony, Nnemeka Onyekwelu, the Project Manager of JPMT FTSA NEPL, and Amaranta Operations.

8. Dr. Ernest’s companies, Nestoil and Jones Creek Hydrocarbon, were also part of the bidding but failed to win the bid, and for that, he wants to terminate the awarding of contracts because it was an Indigenous company that won the bid and not one of his Companies, which violates international laws on fair competition and contract rights.

9. The Council is aware that Dr. Ernest is using all means necessary to use Jones Creek Hydrocarbon to collect all contracts in the field before subletting to other contractors and using the Master Service Agreement (MSA) to confuse community leaders to support him, flouting local and international laws on fair business practices and transparency.

10. Dr. Ernest, who has 45% of the OML 42 Assets, is using more than 15 companies linked to him as major contractors, such as White Dove Shipping Company for oil lifting, Nestoil for construction, engineering, and flowline repairs, B&Q Dredging for all dredging operations, Scorpio Drilling waiting at the dock to take any opportunity in that area, Impac, Estymol for operations and maintenance activities, Hamacorp for civil engineering operations, Offshore Marine Logistics for marine logistics and security operations, NestAir for airborne operations, Jones Creek Hydrocarbon, and many more.

11. From findings, the Master Service Agreement (MSA) does not state that Jones Creek Hydrocarbon is the only legible Company to be awarded contracts in the field, this is a plan to enslave the host communities. The agreement is centered on re-entry operations, and Jones Creek, Odidi, and Batan Fields do not have re-entry operations, only Egwa 2 has re-entry operations, and even this part of the agreement is not acceptable as there are competent community contractors that can successfully carry out re-entry activities.

12. The Ijaw Youth Council is calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Minister for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, and other relevant stakeholders to call the MD of NEPL to immediately sign the Purchase Order (PO) for the award of the Engineering flowline bid won by Host Community Contractors to avoid operational inconveniences. Indigenous contractors and their companies must not be gagged and caged under any guise as the IYC will not tolerate such predatory tendencies.

13. NEPL should carry out a thorough forensic audit to stop wasteful cost of production thereby maximizing profits for the full implementation of the long overdue PIA, in line with international standards on financial transparency and auditing practices in the oil and gas industry.

14. These violations, legal contraventions, and the blatant disregard for local and international laws as highlighted in their practices demand immediate action. Without intervention, the exploitation and marginalization faced by indigenous communities in OML 42 will only aggravate tensions in the Niger Delta. Therefore, it is imperative that a thorough probe into the operations of NEPL/NECONDE/AMARANTA JV and Dr. Ernest Nnemeka Azudailu Obijiesi’s companies be conducted to ensure accountability, transparency, and the protection of the rights of all stakeholders involved. The Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide stands ready to pursue all necessary measures to address these injustices and ensure that justice prevails for the people of OML 42 and beyond.

15. Finally, this is a call on the Federal Government of Nigeria, Minister of Petroleum Resources (Oil) to direct the Managing Director of NEPL to do the needful by ordering all those involved to quickly sign all contracts for indigenous contractors in OML 42. Let us sound this note of warning that henceforth, community contractors and workers be treated fairly by giving them the right of first refusal. A word they say is enough for the wise.

Signed Amb. Binebai Yerin Princewill Spokesman Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide.

Meanwhile, reacting to the development, Rt. Hon. Bob Collins Igetei, Speaker of the 5th Mobile Parliament of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide had also reiterated and issued a stern warning to the companies to do the needful before further actions will be taken on the matter.