A group under the aegis of Concerned Citizens of Iko Town Association in Eastern Obolo local government area of Akwa Ibom have lamented that oil companies operating in Iko Town refused to attend meetings convened to address issues affecting their operations in the area.
The group expressed fears that such attitude displayed by the oil firms may result in another crisis disrupting operations of oil companies in Iko communities and escalate to the entire Niger Delta region.
Our Correspondent gathered that the companies are operating Oil Mining Lease field (OML13) in partnership with Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) between 1970 and 1996 without a clearly defined Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Iko community.
Other companies in the Oil drilling deal partnering with Nigeria Petroleum Development company include Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production company Ltd (SEEPCO) and Natural Oil Field Services Ltd while (NNPCL) remains as sole owner and licensed operator of the oil mining field in Iko Town.
In a letter dated 4th September ,2023 signed by the Concerned Citizens of Iko Town Association through their Legal Counsel, Crown Law Firm to the Managing Director of Nigeria Petroleum Development Company and made available to newsmen in Uyo on Monday, the group explained that the oil firms have not produced Environmental Impact Assessment ( EIA) report to examine dangers that arise from their operations.
The group listed negligence of the oil firms in the area to include: lack of implementation of position paper by the community presented to the oil firms in 2017, insincerity to implement decisions jointly taken by Nigeria Petroleum Development Company after previous engagement meetings with the community while other meetings with the host community ended in disarray.
The letter reads in parts: ” Based on the position paper dated 31 May, 2017 presented by the community and your responses , engagement meetings that took place at various locations including your Head Office in Benin City, Edo state which ended in confusion as no definite decision was taken on matters concerning Iko Town ,your host community.
” We have on good record that OML13 is an onshore oil bloc presently playing host to more than 50 virile oil Wells on the Eastern half of Niger Delta in Iko Town.”
The group therefore urged Nigeria Petroleum Development Development ( NPDC) to convene a meeting with the host community of Iko Town to nip impending crisis in the bud.
Speaking to newsmen in Uyo on Monday, the Chairman of Concerned Citizens of Iko Town Association said Chief Frank Unyongs said NPDC have resorted to divide and rule tactics in their approach to settle with Iko community adding that such attitude will not help in tackling Community Relations issues for the company.
” Shell blindfolded our forefathers the civil war . They invaded Iko Town in Eastern Obolo local government , Akwa Ibom state . They started onshore oil exploration and drilling without any MOU with our people as they were illiterate fishermen.
” But In 2007, there was a protest by the community which lasted for 52 days and a position paper was presented to them .
” This happened before the Niger Delta agitations . The protest drew the attention of Senate Committee on Oil and Gas which visited the area in 2019.
” NPDC is taking us for granted . They should meet with Concerned Citizens of Iko Town Association and conclude the meeting which they have started without further delay and stop playing pranks with the people”
Meanwhile, the Manager Community Relations of Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Dahiru Abubakar has said the company is doing everything possible to sustain community relationship with host communities in their operations.
” I am not in position to speak more about the Ikot Town oil field matter. I can refer you to the Public Affairs Department of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Ltd ( NNPCL) for details . I can’t speak more on this matter please ” he pleaded.