By Daniel Dafe
An indigene of Oviri-Olomu in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, Prince Awhotu Amrevuawho, has called on the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to as a matter of urgency, call a meeting with Edariese family members for peace talks over the oil found in their family land recently, threatening that the family will not hesitate to take legal action against the company.
Speaking to Oasis Magazine (OM) during an exclusive chat, the vibrant youth leader who just graduated from Delta State University, Abraka, bemoaned the nonchalant attitude of NPDC, adding that the Buhari-led Government should compel NPDC to recognize the landowners.
He recalled how in 1995 there was trouble in the community when a similar discovery of oil in the Edariese family land was made by the same company which it mismanaged and caused the death of a member of the said family and many indigenes of the community.
Continuing, he alleged that some community leaders have been enjoying benefits accruable from NPDC such as scholarships, contracts and Christmas gifts, without allowing the land owners to benefit from same.
Speaking further, he said: “This group is made up of self-acclaimed leaders. Chief Jones Ipoko is parading himself as the PG of the community while Chief Friday Akporehe as the Otota. They are out to unleash another round of terror on the Edariese family and other families who have lands around the location the oil was found. The said land where oil was found is the place where the family’s farmland is located.”
He said: “We have seen litigations upon litigations in our community. Lives and property have been lost to the politics of oil. My brother, the only son of his father, Mr. Obirorotere was killed. Other indigenes of the community who include Job Obrikeh and Ochuko Dick were shot, injured and died eventually as a result, why the community was sacked and the perpetrators took over the community and remained in power till today.
“Chief Ipoko and his group who are currently parading themselves as leaders in the community are products of that violence.
“Now, to the glory of God, oil again has been discovered in Oviri-Olomu on the same Edariese family land and NPDC is on its game again with the brand of Chief Jones Ipoko and Friday Okperehe misleading NPDC not to recognize the land owners and NPDC is supporting that kind of situation again. I and my family are peace-loving people and we have suffered enough injustice in the hands of NPDC over the oil found in our family land and we will not want to be dragged into another round of suffering again.”
He also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila , Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, Delta State Governor, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Speaker Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, Chairman, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Dr. Richard Kofi and Member representing Ughelli Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly, Comrade Reuben Izeze to call NPDC to a round table with the land owners which include the Edariese family and others to put in place a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and payment of adequate compensation made to them to avoid a repeat of what happened in 1995 cum 2002.
According to him the Edariese family has written several letters to NPDC through their Attorney and lawyers to make the company see reasons why a cordial relationship with aggrieved members of the family should be allowed to grow, but to no avail.
He added: “The same NPDC found oil in Udu Local Government area, particularly in Ubogo and Emadadja communities and have recognised the land owners and strived hard to better their lives. Why is our case different?”
According to him, “NPDC came with a mindset to oppress, cheat and dispossess the owners of the land, hence they have failed to reach the land owners. Rather, they connived with a hawkish group in the community to gain access to the land,” stressing that this move is illegal.