- As company describes protest as criminality
From Okon Bassey in Uyo
Again, activities of American oil giant, ExxonMobil, were brought to a standstill on Thursday when hundreds of youths from the Ibeno local government area of Akwa Ibom State protested at the entrance of the premises.
Thisday checks reveal that the protest was as a result of another oil spill in the area which started about a week ago with a heavy impact on the environment.
The protest was said to have started about 6am till late in the evening thus paralyzing normal business transactions between members of the public and the oil firm.
The oil workers at the Qua Ibo Terminal (QIT) of Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) were forced to go back on seeing the danger posed by the demonstrators.
Also the convoy of the State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang who was on an inspection of the Eket–Ibeno road to the QIT constructed by the state government was blocked by the youths.
He was said to have been allowed and escorted by the youths to his vehicle to go after softly talking to the demonstrators.
The youths were said to have rebuff pleas from the State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Inioboong Essien who was said to have rushed to the scene of the protest since 10.00 am in order to stop the youth protest.
More than 10 vehicles load of policemen were drafted to the area to ensure the peaceful protest did not degenerate to violence.
“Some of the placards read “Ibeno people are suffocating because of oil spill by ExxonMobil, clean our environment”, “ExxonMobil your maintenance culture is very poor, shame on your negligence, “ExxonMobil oil spill is an offence by law. Stop committing it”, “ Stop gas flaring and oil spills in our environment,” among others.
Reacting to the protest, Mobil Producing Nigeria, MPN, operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC/MPN Joint Venture, confirmed the report.
Manager, Media and Communications, Mr. Oge Udeagha admitted that “in the early hours of Thursday, May 19, 2016, some unknown persons obstructed access to the bridge leading to our Qua Iboe terminal complex in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom state”.