Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Hundreds of indigenes of Kokodiagbene in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West local Government area of Delta State yesterday stormed the Otunana flow station operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) protesting against the company’s refusal to supply electricity to the oil rich community.
The placards carrying protesters, mostly youths and elderly men and women in about three Cotonou boats alleged that the American oil company had reneged on its promise, 19 years ago, to provide the community with electricity as obtained in host communities around the flowstation.
Some of the placards read thus: “14 days ultimatum to connect us to electricity as promised by CNL 19 years ago”, “Pay our land royalty now Chevron”, No light for Kokodiagbene, No oil for Chevron”, Don’t intimidate us with security, all we want is electricity” and “Respect our peaceful disposition” amongst others.
The protesters sailed their boats around the flowstation, being a riverine area, without any resistance from the security agents stationed around the oil facility.
Chairman of Kokodiagbene community, Sheriff Mulade, who led the protesters told Chevron and security men at the station that the oil company had agreed to supply electricity to the community about 19 years ago.
He said that no concrete efforts were made by Chevron to energise the community despite several reminders and protest letters for the past 19 years when the company agreed to supply electricity to the area as part of its social responsibility.
“For 49 years, Chevron has been operating here. We even protected their facilities during the 2003 Niger Delta crisis. They have been polluting our water and yet could not supply us with electricity despite that we are less than two kilometres away from their flowstation,” he added.
Mulade said the community is giving Chevron 14 days to address the supply of electricity to Kokodiagbene, failure which will attract the disruption of operations at the flowstation.
“We have been peaceful in our relationship with Chevron. It appears as if they are taking advantage of our peaceful disposition by reneging on an agreement made 19 years ago. You know we have tried but Chevron has to do the needful,” he said.
One of the protesters, Progress Okorodudu said the indigenes of Kokodiagbene were tired of failed promises by Chevron and that they were ready to lay down their lives to get what rightly belongs to them.
Addressing the protesters, the Field Security Officer (FSO_ of Chevron at Otunana flowstation, Mr. Musa Akun commended the protesters for being peaceful in their agitation.
He promised to convey their demands to the management of Chevron promising that their request would be looked into.