Delta: Okowa wade into Ogulagha fishermen, women, Soldiers imbroglio, averts shutdown of oil exploration

By Binebai Princewill

As Agediga, Angele, Bebenimibo, others storm Obotobo to calm nerves

The Governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa today visited Obotobo I community in Oil rich Ogulagha Kingdom, Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State to address the rising tension among fishermen, women and Soldiers employed by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC imbroglio in Ogulagha river.

The Governor of Delta State was represented by the honourable commissioner for Oil and Gas, Chief Emman Ambgaduba who addressed members of Obotobo I, Obotobo II, Yokiri and Sokebolou communities in Ogulagha Kingdom for their calmness despite glaring provocations they may have faced.

The commissioner particularly commended the people of Yokiri, Sokebolou and Obotobo for not taking the laws into their hands, stressing that the Governor is very happy with their conducts so far, adding that the matter will be looked into within the shortest possible time.

In his words: “I want to thank you people very well, we have really heard a lot from you, the situation is really pathetic, when we return, we will tell the Governor about the predicament, myself and the Chairman of Burutu Local Government Area, Hon. Godknows Angele will present this matter in our different meetings. The chairman will present it at the security council meeting while myself will present it at the level of our state executive council meeting.

“We understands your pains, we will do just that to address this problem, upon hearing this issue few days ago, we could not relax, hence we have to rush down here, all the people that are representing the government here today are very important personalities, we will deal with this matter seriously “Your communities are very precious to the Delta State Government and the Nigerian State, we won’t allow anything to happen to you people ” Amgbaduba stated.

The Liberator Newspaper can report that the tension dousing meeting was held at the Obotobo I community town hall where members from Obotobo I & II, Yokiri and Sokebolou communities massively attended to expressed their grievances.

According to members of the community who hinted the Delta State Government delegation, they stated that people from the aforementioned communities have been living and going to fish peacefully within the Ogulagha river, but noted that trouble started over five months ago when Nigeria Army and Naval personnel hired by SPDC to guard a security facility in the river begin to harass and intimidate fishermen and women, preventing them from fishing in the river under the guise of security.

This is unfortunate but we will do our bests to resolve the issue – Agediga

Executive Director, ED Planning, Research and Statistics, PRS, Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Amb. Comr. Shedrack Agediga while addressing members of the communities described the face off as unfortunate.

He noted that they will work together with the Commisioner, Oil and Gas, Chief Emman Ambgaduba to ensure that the matter is resolved amicably. Amb. Agediga particularly appreciated members of the communities for listening to him, noting that few days ago, they had wanted to take action by shutting down oil facilities in the area but upon his plea, they were able to suspend their planned action.

Agediga promised that the Delta State Government will get to the bottom of the matter.

“Few days ago, I got a call that our people wanted to stop Shell activities in our commumities but with my swift intervention, they stopped and waited for us, we will work since we have heard from you to ensure that we work out modalities to ensure that we put to an end this lingering issue.” Agediga.

I will follow this matter to logical conclusion- Angele

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However, on his part, Chairman Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, Hon. Godknows Angele have vowed that he will follow up the matter to a logical conclusion. He stated that the people of Ogulagha kingdom have every right to fish in their river, adding that on no account should anyone try to stop them from enjoying their natural endowment.

Angele posited that he will collaborate with Governor Okowa to deal with the matter to ensure that things are done the appropriate way.

The military have become threat to our people – Chief Ebah

On his part, double Chief Felix Ebah, chairman Obotobo I community hinted members of the press in an interview shortly after the meeting asserted that the military have become a threat to his people overtime.

He continued that his people have been molesed, intimidated and prevented from fishing in their own river, noting that series of letters drawing the attention of the security personnel carrying out such acts including the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC to stop their punitive actions but all to no avail hence they wrote to the Delta State Government for their swift intervention before it escalates beyond what it is today.

When asked what the military men are doing in the river, Chief Ebah noted that SPDC brought a lay barge, Africa Walker carrying facilities hence the gunboats are used to secure the facility from likely pirates. However, Ebah regretted that the military when floating in the river and patrolling have become problematic to his people, as a result, several fishing nets, fishing traps and other expensive fishing equipments worthing millions of nairas have been destroyed over time by the military. He said what his people want is compensation for the destruction inflicted on the defensless fishermen and women and unlimited access to the river to fish.

He maintained that fishing is the only occupation of the people, frowned that anything that will be serving as a cog to it amounts to injustice, stressing that it will not be accepted and would be resisted by all means necessary.

Fisher men, women laments, narrate ordeals, wants compensation from SPDC, unlimited access to fish

Helene Weso

“Five months ago, we tried going to the river but Navy stopped us from going to the river, they destroyed our fishing equipments and all that we have laboured to get, October 11th 2019 became our worse nightmare, we have really incured lots of debts, we don’t know what else to do, we have been pushed to the wall, our oil is being exploited on one hand, as if that is not enough, these same people have come to prevent us from going to our own river to fish, this is oppression” Helene cried.

Patricia Pondi

“I fishing deep sea, but several months ago, army came with gun boats and destroyed all our fishing equipments, this is really terrible, we don’t understand the fact that we cannot go to our own river to fish anymore. We want Goverment to wade into this matter in order to resolve this issue once and for all”.

Fineboy Aguakumor

“Navy gunboats have been positioned in this our Ogulagha kingdom river to stop us from going to the river, they have destroyed lots of our fishing equipments and it is really telling on us. This is the more reason why we want to stop oil exploration activities in our Kingdom since this is how we want to be treated.

We want SPDC to urgently compensate us for all what they have destroyed through their military men and we want to fish in our river without any hindrance. Fishing is our only occupation here, the Government must look into this matter quickly because we can’t continue to remain at home”.

We are in pains – Uyadongha

Youth President of Obotobo II community, Comr. Samuel E. Uyadongha noted that his people are in deep pain, noting that the situation they find themselves is “terrible, terrific and terrifying”.

The youth president stated that what is happening in his kingdom is unheard of, stressing that SPDC cannot continue to enslave his people. Speaking further, Samuel commended the Delta State Government for their swift response to the matter, adding that they were running out of patience before the state government came in.

“A situation where foreigners or our visitors rather will now be the ones to be intimidating us with military, that we will not have the right to fish is indeed an aberration that must be corrected urgently ” Uyadongha fumes.

Meanwhile, the Delta State Government delegation include The commissioner representing Ijaw Ethnic Nationality on the board of DESOPADEC, Dr. Paul Bebenimibo, represented by Hon. John Anegba, Hon. Toju, SSA to the Governor on security, represented Hon. David Tonwei, Director General, Security, Delta State, Hon. Austin Idumugiren, Hon. Hon. Sunny Perekeme, Secretary, Burutu Local Government Area , Felix Braboke, Comr. Emmanuel Akpule, SA to the Commisioner, Oil and Gas among others too numerous to mention.

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