The Delta state chairman of Committee For Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Dr. Prince Kehinde Taiga has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, over what he called “divide and rule” tactics of NECONDE Energy Ltd, operators of OML 42, in dealing with indigenes of Odidi community, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state.
Taiga in the petition made available to BigPen Online on Wednesday condemned the oppressive mode of operations adopted by the management of NECONDE Energy Ltd in the community, alleging that the management of company now engages in ‘divide and rule’ to tear the community apart by recognizing and dealing with few interest group against the general wellbeing of the people.
The petitioners urged Kachikwu, to as matter of urgency call for the review of the employment processes and contract awards that were fraudulently issued by the company to pacify few individuals in the area.
Specifically, the human rights body in its petition faulted the secrecy in the process of employment by the company which allows few elders and community executive members to hijack the process, thereby allowing provisions for ghost worker slots that are often being shared between community and company representatives at the detriment of jobless able bodied youths who are mostly graduates.
The body also carpeted NECONDE management over the arbitrary use of military forces to silence indigenes from protesting whenever they are aggrieved with certain policies being introduced and implored the Minister to prevail on the company to put an end to this senseless oppressive tendencies while dealing with the people.
The petition read; “the community in question can not boost of any developmental project since 2013 when NECONDE Energy took over the asset of OML 42. And while the majority of the indigenes were crying out of marginalisation, the management resorted to pacifying the leaders and community executives with juicy contracts and financial rewards to keep them quiet.
“Sadly too, when the indigenes decided to take their destiny in their hands by staging a protest, the company management brought in soldiers and naval personnel to the community, thereby disrupting the only opportunity they have to present their case on how to improve on the well-being of their people.
“Presently, the community is under siege by the military who had repeatedly threatened to shot and kill any indigene who dare come out to protest and tagged anyone killed in the process as armed militants who are out to disrupt oil exploration activities in the region”.
“We the members of the CDHR see this as a great concern and want to call on the federal government to hold the management of NECONDE Energy, IMPAC Oil & Gas, Nestoil and subsidiaries of Obijackson groups of companies as well as the leaders and community executive responsible for any act of youth restiveness in the area.
“We challenge NPDC/NECONDE to produce a list of workers operating on OML 42 with the view of ascertaining the numbers of Indigenes employed to work on this oil field since it was divested to it by SPDC”.
CDHR also urged EFCC to probe the activities of oil producing community executives who are often indicted in mismanagement of community funds and selling out of job slots meant for community indigenes.
Reacting to the allegations in a telephone conversation, the General Manager NECONDE Energy, Engr. Olajide Ishola, dismissed the allegations as false and baseless, stating that the company had carried out its business with utmost sincerity and transparency with the community leadership.