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Vanguard (Nigeria): How we sacked 1,000 youths from Shell’s gas plant —JTF

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WARRI—JOINT Task Force (JTF) in the Niger-Delta, codenamed “Operation Restore Hope”, yesterday, gave its account of how it overpowered about 1,000 youths from Oben community in Edo State who forcefully invaded the Shell Petroleum Gas Station in the community and shut down the gas station after sacking the workers on August 8.

Military Public Relations Officer, Major O.A. Ochagwuba in a statement, made available to Vanguard in Warri said that men of the JTF conducted themselves in a professional manner when they intervened and took over the gas station from the hoodlums that invaded the gas station without spilling blood, saying that at no time, did soldiers rape eight women coming from the farm, as maliciously reported by one of the national newspapers.

His words, “On 10 August when the incident occurred, youths numbering about a thousand and led by one Prince West Ogiawonyi and another one, Doctor Sam Igbinaweka forcefully invaded the gas station, shut it down, evicted the staff of the SPDC, seized their vehicle and accommodation keys before JTF troops arrested them”.
 
He said that the soldiers refused to be provoked to do the untoward even when the hoodlums pelted them with stones and attacked them with other dangerous weapons but at the end of it all, “twelve of the ring leaders, namely, Dr. Sam Igbinaweka, Prince West Ogiamwonyi, Osazuwa Igbinowaka, Monday Ida, Edomwonyi Osaro, Frank Osas, Iyobosa Alohan, Matthew Ugbo, Owie Dohrity, Raphael Osabghien, Felix Ikhiwu and Kingsley Omoregbe were arrested at the gas station and forwarded to the JTF headquarter as against the report that they were picked up from their homes”.

“After their arrest, a community leader in Oben requested for their release and threatened dire consequences of failure to do so. Based on the threat of the community leader, the suspects were immediately whisked to the JTF headquarters. The leader carried out his threat the following day.

Leaders who were supposed to seek peaceful resolution to crisis were the people stoking the embers of crisis at Oben, saying that some in June, the same hoodlums invaded the gas station, shut it down, seized the GSM phones of some SPDC staff, their vehicles and demanded that a Hilux vehicle be attached to one of their ring leaders pending the resolution of their grievance with the state government.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/niger_delta/nd215082007.html

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