Okpai Communities Protest Against Alleged Illegal Oil Prospecting By Indian Firm
There are conflicting claims by the Army and the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM) over an attack on a delivery line operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) at Otu-Jeremi, in Delta State.
The NDGJM, through its spokesman Gen. Aldo Agbalaja yesterday claimed the attack on the 42-inch NPDC delivery line, while the military joint force in the Niger Delta code-named Operation Delta Safe based in Bayelsa State debunked the militants’ statement.
The acting spokesman for the force, with headquarters at Yenagoa, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Otuji, said there was no truth in the NDGJM claim. He said: “It was a case of bush burning, which ignited the old pipeline,” urging the public to disregard the statement.
Otuji, who spoke on phone with The Guardian said: “Gentleman, it was a case of bush burning that ignited an old pipeline, no such attacks.”
NDGJM, however, insisted it would not be deterred by military offensive in the region to halt its pipeline attacks, threatening to fight on “till the last man is alive.”
Meanwhile, indigenes of Okpai and neighbouring communities in Ndokwa East Local Government Area, Delta State have protested against what they alleged as illegal oil prospecting by Sterling Global Oil.
The protest followed an attempt by the company to lay pipes right under their doorsteps, allegedly with the help of the 222 Battalion of the Nigerian Army. Speaking through the Secretary of Okpai National Union, John Nwanosike, they said yesterday that they had resolved to stop the company until it respected the rights of the local people.
Lamenting that the oil firm had been operating in the last 10 years without environmental impact assessment, Nwanosike urged the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Nigerian Petroleum Investment and Management Service (NAPIMS) to call the Indian firm and its Nigerian collaborators to order.