By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
A coalition of entire youths in Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have staged a peaceful protest against what they termed illegal drilling of oil in the local government by Moni Pulo Limited (MPL), a private oil and gas exploration and production company, without following due processes.
The protesting youths consisting of youth caucus, youth council, village youth council, Christian youths, Marine Association and Oil and Gas/Solid Mineral Producing Landlords of Nigeria, on Thursday, matched from the Palace of the Village Head to the site of the company with placards bearing various inscriptions.
According to the youth leader and Oil and Gas/Southern Uruan Ward 3 leader,
Rev. (Barr.) Emmanuel Okokon, Moni Pulo Limited, with its head office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, invaded the community to drill from the oil wells without the consent of the elders and the village head.
He said there is a lot of anomalies and crookedness by Moni Pulo Limited (MPL) coming to drill oil in Uruan without meeting up with their social responsibilities of following the proper template set by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
This, according to him, is likely to cause a breach of the existing peace within the people of Adadia community, which may give birth to violence and destruction of properties in Uruan and Akwa Ibom State at large.
Part of the inscriptions on the placards includes “Moni Pulo, No MoU, No Work”; “Our Oil, Our Soil, Our Terms, Our Lives”; “NNPC, Please Tell Moni Pulo to Sign MoU With Adadia Community Before bringing the Rig”; “No EIA, No Rig”; and others.
They are protesting to press home the provision of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, assessment report conducted by Sinopec, and signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by MPL.
“We appreciate the intention of Moni Pulo Limited to operate its business in Uruan, but we need them to tell us their template of operation. We need to see the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report that was done, which will tell us the impact that will be created by the production of oil in this community, and its effect to not only Adadia but the entire Uruan community.
“We want to see the assessment report conducted by Sinopec, a Chinese oil and gas company based in Beijing, China, whom Moni Pulo contracted in 2013/2014 without our consent.
“Before Moni Pulo brings its rig to Uruan, they should sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which is the basic to know what is accruable to the community. Because they will operation within the environment, relate with the people of the community, it will affect the culture, tradition as well as our custom. Therefore, under no circumstance should we allow MPL to come into the society with impunity to destroy our lineage without regards to the traditional institution,” Rev. Okokon stated.
Speaking further, he stated that “MPL has decided to go astray from the Local Content Act which, according to the law of the National Assembly, supposed to talk about what impact it will bring to the indigenes, host community and the core community. But they have already cleared the land, built a site and prepare to bring the rig even without the youths being informed, or invited in their stakeholders meeting.
“If they are ready to do business in Uruan, let them come to the traditional institution and be identified with an already laid down structure. Once the youths and traditional institution are carried along, I assure them peaceful and effective operation.”
The youth leader thanked Governor Udom Emmanuel, who he said has a listening ear and knows the cries of the people, adding that he has brought developmental infrastructure in Uruan, therefore they will fold their arms and watch some set of strangers come to divide their community and put them in disarray.
Another youth leader, George Bassey, noted several letters have been written by the community Chiefs, Clan Head and the Local Government Chairman to reach out to Moni Puli, but the company has blatantly refused to be identified with the people and follow due processes.
Also speaking, Lt. Okon Etim Edet, a stakeholder in Adadia community, said that the CEO of Moni Puli Limited, High Chief (Dr.) O.B. Lulu-Briggs, cannot do this in Rivers State where he comes from, and called on them to identify with the community and sign the MoU without which they cannot operate in the Adadia community.
He said the presence of MPL has turned the once peaceful community into chaos as soldiers have been deployed to harass indigenes. Women can no longer pass the place to their farms, children cannot pass there to school anymore, and youths cannot go about their normal business.
They called on both the state and federal governments to come to their rescue as their lives are now at risk owing to reports that Moni Pulo has alleged caused a lot of problems leading to death in Mbo Local Government.