Host Communities Kick Against Divestment, Renewal of OML 29

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By John Iwori

Host communities in in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 areas of operation in Nembe, Bayelsa State have kicked against the disinvestment plans of the Federal Government from the block.

They also expressed disapproval to moves to renew the mining lease without the addressing what they called “several unresolved fundamental issues” between them and the companies operating in the area.

In a letter addressed to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Okachukwu, the host communities of Opu Nembe (Nembe-Bassambiri) Kingdom in Bayelsa State, reminded the Federal Government of the  pendency of suit against statutory consent to divestment and against renewal of OML 29.          

Signed by Mr. Iniruo Wills and Anthony Enyindah, their lawyers, the host communities drew the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that they had filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Yenagoa Judicial Division to seek an order of perpetual injunction restraining the minister and other agencies from granting any consent to the application of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) to divest itself of the ownership of OML 29 and assign same to Aiteo Exploration and Production Limited or any entity.

They also warned the Federal Government against revoking or suspending any such consent if already granted unless and until the issues at stake were addressed.

According to the letter which was also copied to the Acting President, Attorney General of the Federation, Attorney General of Bayelsa State, the Managing Director, SPDC, and the Managing Director, Aiteo Exploration and Production Limited, the host communities said the suit also sought for an injunction to restrain the minister and other relevant authorities from considering or granting any application for the renewal of OML 29 which expires this year. 

The processes filed in the suit had long been served on the defendants as parties.

They expressed dismay that in spite of the pendency of the suit in the court, the Federal Government had directed oil producing companies to renew their OMLs.

“Being a subject of pending litigation, it would be contemptuous of anybody or institution to ignore the litigation and proceed to do that which was sought to be restrained by the court. Be that as it may, we accordingly urge you not to entertain any application for consent to assign OML 29 or for renewal of same by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited or Aiteo Exploration and Production Limited or any of their partners, pending the outcome of the suit”, they added