Sunday, April 23, 2017

Obama flow station: ERA asks Agip to respect S’Court’s ruling

An environmental group , the Environmental Right Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria , has asked the Nigerian Agip Oil Company to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court on the rightful owners of the land hosting its Obama flow station .

The ERA’ s comment is coming on the heels of recent protest by people of Egebekiri in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State against Agip ’s alleged neglect of the community.

Members of the community had taken their protest to the Obama flow station operated by Agip , resulting in the disruption of production in four oil wells: 5 , 7 , 9 and 12 .

They were angry that Agip had allegedly failed to pay them any form of royalties or related with them officially since the company began oil exploration in the community over 40 years ago.

The community had also lamented that despite a Supreme Court judgment of July 13 , 2007 , which confirmed them as the legal owners of the land hosting the oil fields , Agip had continued to give their rights and benefits to some persons in neighbouring communities.

The ERA, in a report of its findings by its Bayelsa State Coordinator, Mr . Alagoa Morris, lamented that after 10 years of the apex court ’s judgement , the oil firm had yet to obey the judgement .

The group said, ‘’ The highest court in the land is the Supreme Court and Agip shouldn ’ t subject the ruling of the Supreme Court to any interpretation. What is expected of Agip is to explore a peaceful transition of benefits to the rightful owners of the land.

“ERA/ FoEN is convinced from the testimonies received from community folks that as far as patience is concerned, the people of Egebekiri are very close to the end of whatever elasticity they may have.

“Armed with a Supreme Court Judgment in their favour and being pushed to the wall , Agip should try and seek more positive ways of reacting to this matter . ’’

The ERA asked Agip to without further delays initiate steps to quickly address Egebekiri matter and not allow it to degenerate into violence.
It also urged the federal and state governments to call Agip to order especially in honouring the ruling .

The group further demanded, ‘’ If possible , the National Assembly should invite the management of Agip , since they are often quick to say the state House of Assembly has no jurisdiction since oil matters are on the exclusive legislative list .

‘’The people of Egebekiri should not only be commended for their peaceful disposition and exemplary conduct; but be given due recognition as landlords of Agip and whatever entitlements due them. ”

It said Agip should be held responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order regarding the matter .

The group also urged the people of Egebekiri to remain law - abiding and resist any temptation to resort to self- help .

Agip had in a letter by its General Manager District, Fabrizio Trilli, in 2008, to the Bayelsa State Governor acknowledged Egebekiri as bonafide owners of the land .

It expressed fears then that there might be violence if the benefits shifted to Egebekiri.

The letter reads, ‘’ Our dilemma , however , is that the subject matter of these court actions is opposite our Obama flow station in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. At the time of acquisition, the Ikoni family presented themselves as the family of occupation .

“The company dealt with them and paid the agreed compensation . They were thereafter accorded recognition as landlords over the years . In the light of the Supreme Court judgment however , we are bound by law to cease to recognise them and begin to deal with the Egebekiri family.

“We believe that this may not go down well with the Ikoni family due to the benefits that may stop accruing to them. ”

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