OML 29 OIL SPILL: IYC Protest Kula Communities Neglection
OML 29 OIL SPILL: IYC Protest Kula Communities Neglection

Following the spill at OML 29, Well 1, Santa Barbara River, members of the Ijaw Youth Council, Kalabari Se-Ikpangi, have issued a strongly worded warning to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Rivers State Government, and Aiteo E&P Ltd to include the Kalabari people, in general, and the Kula people, in particular, among the communities to receive relief materials and then cleanup.

Members who emerged all dressed in black costumes at a world press conference held in Okpo community town hall, in Asari Toru LGA of Rivers State, on December 20, 2021, denounced the marginalization the people have been subjected to as a result of the negligence.

In his speech, the chairman of the group – Comrade Edward Asikitamunoprim, said: “The news of a major oil spill in OML 29 Well 1, along Owuangain community in Kula, AKULGA, has been making the rounds, yet those who ought to take responsibility in ameliorating the worsening condition of the affected inhabitants of the community (Owuangain) are busy playing the blame game; accusing fathoms of sabotage while conducting itself in a manner suggestive of pitching the government and the peace loving people of Kula against the government of Bayelsa State and their Basambiri neighbours in Opu Nembe.

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“You will recall that the Minister of State for Petroleum, in the company of the management of Aiteo E&P Ltd, had gone on an assessment visit to Basambiri, a community in Bayelsa that is less affected by the oil spill and had given out relief materials, whereas, the inhabitants of Owuangain community, the host of OML 29 Well 1, whose only means of livelihood have been seriously devastated by the spill, are left in despair.”

He described the incident as a premeditated provocation aimed at pitting the Rivers State government and the Kula people against the Bayelsa State government and the Opu Nembe Basambiri people.

He claimed that the Owuangain village, which is located along Owuanga Toru (Santa Barbara), is owned and inhabited by Kula’s indigenous people, and that it is politically located in Akuku Toru LGA of Rivers State’s Unit 9 of Ward 16.

“We wish to state categorically that the Supreme Court and Federal High Court judgments in Suit Nos: SC 106/2009 and FHC /ABJ/CS/984/19, respectively, have put to rest the lingering issue of ownership of Owuangain community where OML 29 Well 1 is located in favour of the Rivers State Government,” he said, accusing Aiteo and the Minister of State for Petroleum of deception and double standards.

He urged Aiteo and the Rivers State Government, led by Governor Nyesom Wike, to intervene before the leak extends into the Sombreiro River, impacting other Kalabari settlements.

Tamunosaki West, the group’s secretary, commented in a similar vein, while Engr. Gogo Jeibarimiema, one of the group’s elders, said that the marginalization was politically motivated.
Comrade Colange Briggs, the leader of the Ijaw Defence Council, Ibinabo Omoni Jack, and Chief Comrade Lolo A.C Will-Braide were among those who spoke in this vein.

They were all in agreement that the anomaly needed to be fixed before things progressed to a new level.

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