Crisis looms over discovery of oil in Ondo, Delta borderline
Crisis is brewing between the Ilaje community of Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State and the Ijaw communities of Itsekelewu, in Delta State, over the discovery of oil in the borderline of the two communities.
The Ilaje community has alleged the oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited of sidelining the community without appropriate negotiation with the people of affected villagers.
The community in a letter directed to the oil company and the state government urged the oil company to halt action on the acquisition plan as against the initial resolution and agreement over the issue.
The community in the letter signed by the Chairman of the group, Mr Blessing Omogbemi, called on the Ondo State government to persuade the oil company to shelve its plan of acquiring the land until the controversy surrounding the land is resolved.
They vowed not to allow injustice against the people, issuing a seven-day ultimatum to the oil company to rescind its decision on the acquisition plan “as against our resolution and agreement that Chevron Nigeria Limited should stay the action pending when issues around the Oil-rich location will be resolved.”
The letter reads: “As a follow up of the meeting held in Akure, Ondo State regarding the land acquisition for Saturn Oil Well along the borderline of Ondo and Delta State, we are reliably informed that Chevron Nigeria Limited has decided to go ahead at its own peril with the acquisition plan as against our resolution and agreement that Chevron Nigeria Limited should stay action pending when issues around the Oil-rich location will be resolved.
“We, Ilaje Communities situated along the borderline of Ondo State and Delta State, will vehemently oppose any clandestine move by Chevron Nigeria Limited to negotiate with the Ijaw communities of Itsekelewu, Opuama, and Itsekiri Communities of Ebokiti, Ugbege, Ototo, Jakpa, and Igbokoda without Ilaje Communities at the negotiation table.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Ilaje communities situated along the borderline are Orietan, Odun-Oyinbo, Ogungbeje, Beku, Yoren, Ebiwon, Gbenebite, Ubakana Ilaje etc. We (Ilaje borderline Communities) will not open our eyes to see any injustice against our Communities fly.”
It reads further: “For the purpose of emphasis, these Ilaje Communities, Itsekiri and Ijaw communities are interwoven and have been enjoying relative peace with the Ijaw and Itsekiri Communities along the borderline.
“Let it be recalled that all these communities i.e. Ijaw Communities, Ilaje Communities and Itsekiri communities have been coexisting for a long period of time in spite of the fragile peace predominant among them.
“Therefore, Chevron Nigeria Limited should not embark on actions capable of fracturing the peace and triggering crises.
“Chevron Nigeria Limited should henceforth make a recourse to the Government of Ondo State to resolve this issue as we have no confidence in any meeting that holds outside Ondo state.
“Let it be cleared to Chevron Nigeria Limited that negotiation done without Ilaje will not be tolerated as we cannot afford to take negotiation remnants.
“We are law-abiding citizens. We cannot allow Chevron Nigeria Limited to push us to the wall hence we call on all the security agencies, which include, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Department of State Security Service, Nigeria Police Force, to call Chevron Nigeria Limited to order not to cause inter-communal crises among us, the Ijaw, Itsekiri and Ilaje.
The Ilaje community, however, issued a seven days ultimatum to the Chevron and said “we give Chevron Nigeria Limited early warning to make recourse to the Government of Ondo State. A stitch in time saves nine.”