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They extract our oil without MoU, Edo community cry out

By Obiabin Onukwugha

The people of Evbohenoba community in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State have decried the negative impact of oil companies’ activities on their environment and livelihoods.

This is coming as the people also expressed their resolve to fight for their human and environmental rights while calling for an immediate end to oil extraction and refining in their community.

The Evbohenoba community is one among communities of the Niger Delta region in South-South Nigeria that have become victims of their natural resources.

They lamented the level of marginalization and negligence experienced in the community, despite housing a modular refinery and crude oil extracting company, that has been extracting crude oil from the community since 2001.

The people made the submissions at a programme organised by Lilbeckking Development Foundation and Oilwatch Africa with the theme, “Community Media Briefing on Resilience and Resistance Against Extractives”, in the community, recently.

Speaking on the objectives of the meeting, the Program Manager of Lilbeckking Development Foundation, Destiny Aigbokhae revealed that after investigative visits by Lilbeckking to the community oil wells and the modular refineries in the community, it was imperative to inform the public and the media of the environmental and human rights injustice going on in the community by the extractive industries who, it said were only interested in their money-making venture, while the indigenous people of the community are left to suffer.

A community representative, Akugbe Ihile, who spoke at the meeting, accused Summit Oil International and Duport Midstream Company of extracting oil and gas from the community without any agreement with the community representatives or a memorandum of understanding to guide their operations and to protect the rights of the people.

He added that the community has not experienced any government presence or infrastructural developments since these companies have been operating, adding that the people were no longer going to condone the inhuman acts of the companies.

In an experience-sharing segment of the program, the Administrator of the Local Government and member of the community, Atoe Osaretin accused the oil companies of employing divide-and-rule tactics, to keep the people under control, while they continued with the exploration and refining activities.

According to him, there haven’t been any form of employment for the people of the community, adding that efforts of the community members to speak up through protests and other forms of advocacy actions have been met with military intimidation by the company and the government.

On her path, the women leader of the community, Queen Eremwense stated that the women were going through untold hardship and poverty as their lands have been taken away by the company, while the people are left with no tangible source of livelihood, and no compensation for their lands.

Also speaking at the meeting, Communications Consultant and Environmental Activist, Elvira Jordan pointed out that the challenges experienced by the people of Evbohenoba is similar to the oil and gas crisis experienced in the Niger Delta, where environmental pollution, health implications, internal crisis and lack of development are the order of the day, after decades of oil exploration by the oil multinationals.

She pointed out that if the people do not continue to build on their resilience to resist the oppression and operation of these oil companies, the Evbohenoba community will suffer the same fate of the neglected communities of the Niger Delta.

The highlights of the meeting included a media tour of the dilapidated state of the only existing health center in the community and a single block of three classrooms in the only school available in the community.



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