Delta community pickets oil company over MoU

From Paul Osuyi, Asaba

The people of Ogbeani community in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State on Monday protested against Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company (SEEPCO) and

Ashtavinayak Hydrocarbon Limited for their alleged failure to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the community.

The community is demanding that the company employ youths of the area, pay a token to the community for every truck moved, engage a community liaison officer and meet up with its corporate social responsibilities, among other demands.

Armed with placards of different inscriptions, residents of the community as early as 9 am took over the premises of the company, barring all forms of movement to and from the company.

Some of the inscriptions s on the placards read: “We need immediate signing of MoU,” “We Need To See The C.E.O,” “Give Us Job,” and “SANDEEP, Stop Frustrating Ogbeani”.

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As at 4:40 pm, the protesters were still occupying the company’s premises, vowing to stay put until their demands are met.

One of the protesters, Samuel Enebeli, said the company has failed to sign an MoU with the community since they commenced operations, noting that the protest was called to draw the attention of the world to the situation.

Mr Festus Obodeh, another protester, disclosed that the agitation by the community for fair treatment by the company had attracted the intervention of Delta State Government, claiming that the company had disregarded the state government.

Another protester, Peter Udome, decried that the company has engaged more than 5,000 Indians and more than 200 non-indigenes with nobody employed from the host community.

A youth leader in the community, Mr Lucky Aninwe, noted that the protest was long overdue as the company has taken the community for granted.

‘We have always wanted to protest against the company but the elders have restrained us, seeking peaceful means of resolving issues; and it is good that today we have come out to let them know that things should be done right,’ Aninwe said.

‘They cannot just ignore the host community endlessly, even with the intervention of the state government. We are not ending this protest until our demands are met.’