Community youths protest against modular refinery in Edo

The plan by Summit Oil, to kick-start a modular refinery at the small town of Egbokor in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State may be disrupted following a protest by youths from the host communities.

Angered by the refusal of the oil company to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), youths from the four oil-bearing communities of Evbohenoba, Ugbugo, Egbokor and Ugo N’Iyeke-Orhionnwon  have sealed off the company premises at Evbohenoba.

Work at the refinery which is at an advanced stage is still ongoing but with the disruption of activities at Otien I, where oil is extracted, it means that there will be no oil supply to the refinery.

Armed with placards with different inscriptions such as ‘No MoU, No Work,’ ‘Stop the Marginalisation,’ ‘Sign Our MoU,’ ‘This is Our Land,’ among others, the youths who were on a peaceful protest played loud music and danced around the shuttered gate.

They vowed not to allow work to resume at the office until the oil company which has been exploring and exploiting crude oil in the area in the last two years signed a MoU with the host communities and engaged in corporate social responsibilities.

The spokesperson for the protesting youths, Mr Austin Erhunose, popularly called Abacha, accused the company of playing games with the host communities, insisting that ‘his boys’ would stay at the gate until such a time that the company deems it fit to ink an agreement.

Erhunose stated that apart from employing a handful of poorly-paid youths, the company had refused to do anything for the people; hence the youth have decided to resort to self help after series of petitions demanding an agreement in form of a MoU fell on deaf ears.

The youth leader said: “We are on a peaceful protest. We don’t want to be violent. We only want the government and the company to be aware of our grievances. They should sign a MoU with us that will clearly spell out their obligations to the host communities before work commences. The company has tried to divide the youths in the communities but we are brothers. We understand their tricks and will not work against ourselves.”

Attempts to reach officials of Summit Oil however met a brick wall as a worker who simply identified himself as Sam said that he was not competent to speak on the issue.

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