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Sun News Online (Nigeria): Group, Shell, Akwa Ibom fight

By Sun News Publishing
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Conflict of interest or greed appears to have crept into the psyche of those struggling to gain control of the contentious oil well in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

The said well allegedly owned by Shell Petroleum Development Company was said to have started leaking more than 10 years ago even as the giant oil company did nothing to stop the spill, resulting in the community – Ikot Ada Udo – going to court through a power of attorney it ceded to a group known as Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Commits Development Network (AKIPCON).

In the said case with suit No. FHC/UY/CS/43/2006, still pending in the Federal High Court, Uyo, the community had claimed the sum of N5 billion as special and general damages resulting from the oil leakage from the valves of Xmas tree at the oil well.

It had also sought perpetual injunction restraining SPDC or its agents from neglecting to service the said Xmas tree oil well at the village.

Recently, there appear to be many interests in the oil well or its leakage especially from the angle of the Akwa Ibom State government. The state House of Assembly a fortnight ago had unsuccessfully invited SPDC to appear before it to explain what they knew about the well said to have been corked since 1958. The failure or refusal of Shell to honour the house’s various invitations, citing the pending case in court, made the house beat a retreat and rather decided to set up a committee to investigate the ownership and any other issues concerning the oil well.

While the house is embarking on this exercise, the executive arm of the state government appears to have entertained some sympathy for Shell as the state ministry of environment and mineral resources on Tuesday allegedly connived with Shell officials to go and cork the leaking well but were allegedly chased away by the devastated community.

Piqued by the seeming struggle for diverse interests, AKIPCON on Wednesday held a protest press conference in Uyo at which their president, Mr. Ufot Phenson, explained that much as they were not opposed to government involvement in the matter, such should be done in accordance legal procedure since the case which AKIPCON instituted on behalf of the community was still pending in court.

“Let it be brought to the knowledge of all that SPDC as defendants in this case has not approached the plaintiffs for out of court settlement, therefore, no other person or agents has any right whatsoever to come in, no matter how highly placed. We do not opposed settlement out of court but let such settlement be done with due regards to the rule of law.

“The surreptitious approach adopted by the SPDC and Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources to settle the oil spill issue, which is pending in the Federal High Court is contemptuous and we hereby condemn this action in its totality.
“It is true that SPDC visited the deviated oil spill community of Ikot Ada Udo on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 but could not cork the leaking oil well in spite of the presence of heavily armed forced men because the people now know their right.

“It should be noted that any arrangement to settle this matter without the plaintiffs (attorneys) is null and void. We are ever ready to harness any well meaning effort to reposition Ikot Ada Udo village and Ikpa Nung Asang clan in this matter. Therefore, nobody should in any way assist SPDC to continue to exploit and impoverish our people; rather, they should partner and encourage the attorneys towards the realization of the socio-economic enhancement of our people,” Phenson said.

He lamented that rather than the state government working with well-meaning groups like AKIPCON to bring Shell and other oil companies, which allegedly had been cheating Akwa Ibom communities, to sign memoranda of understanding as they were doing in other states, government was only trying to help the oil companies continue to enslave the state.

Daily Sun learnt that some sections of the community are no longer comfortable with power attorney earlier ceded to AKIPCON and have been agitating for the case to be withdrawn from the court so that amicable settlement could be reached and the well corked to stop the environmentally polluting spill.

With the many elephants selfishly fighting from the spill, the only people suffering are the natives of Ikot Ada Udo who have had to contain with the oil spill for the past 10 years with its concomitant pollution. Meanwhile, the leakage continues, same with the misunderstanding.

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One Comment

  1. Knitty says:

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