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Ovade-Oghara Protest Grounds Pan Ocean Operations By John Onos

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Ovade-Oghara Community in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State has embarked on protests, paralyzing operations at the Pan Ocean Oil Corporation (Nigeria) Limited (PANOCO) for what they alleged as the systematic, malicious and provocative under development of Ovade Community.

Protesting Ovade elders, chief, women, including youths stormed the premises of Pan Ocean Oil Company as early as 5:30 a.m. Thursday 10th August 2012 bearing placards with inscriptions such as ‘Pan Ocean should go’, ‘Pan Ocean leave our land for us’, ‘Enough is Enough’, ‘The marriage between Pan Ocean Oil Company and Ovade Community Oghara Ethiope west L.G.A, Delta State is heading for a divorce due to Neglect and suffering of the people over 40 years of oil exploration and exploitation.’

Other placards also read: ‘Fadeyi leave us alone’, ‘Re-instate our sacked youths’, Etc, as they chanted solidarity songs while they matched on every available space around, preventing human and vehicles from entering and exiting the company’s premises.

At the time of filing this report, the protesters still besieged the premises of PANOCO.

The Chairman of the Community, Mr. Hitler Igbakpa, the Secretary, Hon. Odeh Oghominene Festus, Chief Simeon Ogheneovo Odeh who addressed journalists said after about 45 years of oil exploration from Ovade Community by Pan Ocean Oil Corporation, what they got in return is the systematic, malicious and provocative under development of their community and people, maintaining that due to  the prolonged oil exploration/exploitation from their domain by PANOCO, their one time arable/fertile land, is currently suffering from a severe environmental (ecological) degradation.

They explained further that having suffered from a prolonged history of persistent and consistent chain of Institutionalized oppression, suppression, victimization, marginalization and discrimination from Pan Ocean Oil Corporation in different realms of human capital development and socio-economic activities after all the failed peace settlement, including  the one supervised  by the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, which they (Company) failed to honour.

Mr. Igbakpa added that before this protest which they termed ‘The mother of all’ could be called off , first of all, Pan Ocean should embark on the immediate/unconditional re-instatement of their son, Mr. Tobore Hosanna whom they laid off some time ago, the finalization of the writing/signing of Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) with

the Community, the immediate upgrade, re-reticulate and extension of existing moribund water project in Ovade Community, including the immediate commencement of the construction of an access (Link) road between Ovade Community and Ovade Oghara flow station, Gas Plant which were the reasons for their protest.

Mr. Igbakpa, while appealing to the youths to remain calm, said “the youths should ensure that the protest is peaceful and desist from any act of lawlessness which is capable of truncating their original plans.”

“We must actualize our aim with the drop of our blood and we must remain in the premises of the company both night and day until our demands are met,” he added.

A youth leader, Mr. Andrew Onomroba, who also bared his mind, said, the youths have been marginalized in the area of employment in the company which employed people from other parts of the country.

But for the swift intervention of the Divisional Police Officer of Oghara, CSP Tomitope Fashugba and Military men from 19 Battalion, Koko who arrived the company as early as 7:30 am to pacify frayed nerves, some of the youths who were already set for the worst would have truncated the original plans of their elders by turning the company to a war theatre.

When contacted on phone, the public relations officers of the company, Mr. Adijola Banji said the company is working hard to make peace with the host community, and at the right time, will issue a statement to the media on the ongoing situation while the community liaison officer, Mr. William said, “I am not in a position to speak for the company,” but added that a truce would be reached soonest between the company and the host Community.

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