• We do not interfere in internal politics of host communities, says oil firm
Sylvester Idowu in Warri
For the third day running, hundreds of protesting Ugborodo indigenes yesterday continued their siege on the Escravos Tank Farm of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), disrupting operations of the multinational oil  company.

Unlike the previous days, yesterday’s turnout of the protesters swelled with more Ugborodo indigenes from the five villages of the community and Warri joined in the protest.

Ugborodo people had occupied the environs and accesses into the company’s property since Tuesday in protest of alleged marginalisation and refusal of the company to recognise and deal with their appointed representatives; the Ugborodo Interim Management Committee.

It was learnt that the five villages that make up up Ugborodo community; Ode-Ugborodo, Madagho, Ijala, Ajidabo and Ogidigben, as well as other indigenes of the community who are resident in Warri town, moved in to join in the protest yesterday.

Speaking on the protest, a former chairman of the Ugborodo Community Trust, Pa Sandys Omadeli, said it would continue until the oil company recognises the Emma Meke-led Interim Management Committee (IMC).

According to him, the community had written several times to Chevron on the change of leadership, but the oil company refused to recognise the interim committee, which was lawfully constituted, rather it insisted on dealing with members of the former community trust, whose tenure had expired.

Reacting to the development, CNL’s General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Deji Haastrup, said it does not interfere in the internal affairs of its host communities and advised the protesters to exercise restraint and respect the rule of law.

According to a statement issued and signed by Haastrup, it stated  that the oil firm does not interfere in the internal affairs of communities where it operates.

“Chevron Nigeria Limited (“CNL”), Operator of the Joint Venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and CNL (the NNPC/CNL JV), confirms that at about 13:00 on August 9, 2016, some members of the Ugborodo community gathered at one of the gates of our Escravos facility.

“They are agitating for the recognition of the Ugborodo Community Interim Management Committee and also requesting CNL not to recognise the Ugborodo Community Trust among others.

“CNL does not interfere in the internal affairs of communities in the areas of its operations including Ugborodo. We continue to engage with the protesters and other key community leaders and stakeholders, including the Delta State Government (DTSG) and hope for a resolution of the situation shortly.

“CNL advises restraint, respect for the Rule of Law and encourages constructive dialogue among the community members and other stakeholders to sustain enduring peace in the communities,” the statement said.