The security operation launched weekend by soldiers attached to the Joint Military Task Force(JTF) ‘Operation Restore Hope’ against illegal refinery operators in Egbematoru Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State nearly resulted to a bloody clash with some angry youths of neighboring community of Foutorogbene I, II & 111.
LEADERSHIP gathered yesterday that the operation launched by the soldiers on the Egbematoru community was the largest as a deployment of two house boats filled with soldiers impounded boats and canoes used in the illegal movement of stolen crude oil along the waters and creeks and set them ablaze.
The action of the soldiers however coincided with the angry protest by the youths of Foutorogbene I, II & 111 over the devastating oil spillage recorded on the 27th May 2012 at the Benisede flow station owned by the Anglo-Dutch Oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in the Ekeremor Local Government Area. The youths were protesting the attitude of the officials of the company after three kids reportedly died after drinking from the polluted waters.
Community sources informed LEADERSHIP that some of the Youths from the angry communities of Foutorogbene,who were on their way to join their kinsmen in a meeting to deliberate on the action against SPDC, ran into the soldiers and a clash was averted. It took the intervention of some senior military officers and community leaders to calm frayed nerves.
While the Media Coordinator of the Joint Military Task Force, Lt.Col. Onyeama Nwachukwu denied knowledge of the averted clash,he confirmed that the JTF launched a surprise military action against illegal bunkering operators at Egbematoru.
Contacted yesterday on the involvement of the Foutorogbene Communities in an action against the SPDC over the May oil spillage,the Youth Chairmen from the communities, Mr. Preye Warri(Foutorogbene 1), Comrade Emmanuel Ebis (Foutorogbene 2) and Emmanuel Jebbi (Foutorogbene 3) explained that though the incident with the soldiers along the waters raised some emotions, the youths of the affected communities have decided to hand the SPDC management a seven-day ultimatum to settle with the families of the three dead kids or face an invasion of their facilities.
According to the communities,” This year we lost five kids as a result of the intake of the oil polluted water and their names were Arekedoumene pigha, blessing Adiboere, Tabode owei, Debowei Timiebi and debowei peretu. The kids were between three months and three years.
"These children suffered and died from the intake of oil polluted water for over five months.The children died due to the delay by the SPDC to clean up the spill. SPDC officials,after months of delay,death and destruction of economic activities of the communities, made a controversial appearance in the communities for JIV inspection on the 6th of September, 2012.
“We view the visit of SPDC officials to our communities as worthless, barbaric, full of insensitivity, unconstitutional and embarrassment to the entire communities and families of the deceased kids as they were left to die. We consider it valueless, as host communities.
"The incident happened over five months ago.What were they waiting for ? They waited until the flooding from the recent rains has ravaged our communities and washed the oil in the water surface and cover the weeds, grasses and the entire land level.
“What do they expect to see?Afterall the water is not stagnant and the action of the SPDC is a complete mockery of the communities. It is more insulting that the SPDC officials came with heavy military squad to intimidate the communities and refused to carry out a proper survey on how the communities were affected by the spill.
"SPDC argument was blind and worthless. We know that their show of contempt for the affected communities is a conspiracy and tactics employed to run away from its responsibilities.”