ExxonMobil Denies Oil Spills in Ibeno as Youths Protest, Block Workers at QIT

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Okon Bassey in Uyo

Oil spill suspected to emanate from the facility of American oil major, the ExxonMobil has triggered another protest by youths in Ibeno local government area of Akwa Ibom State.

However, to camp down the nerves of the youth, the oil giant has in a swift reaction denied the spill being from any of its facility in the area.

The angry youths drawn from oil bearing communities of the State have for three days now blocked the Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) facility of ExxonMobil at Mkpanak in Ibeno Local Government Area.

The youth who refused the position of the management of Exxonmobil that the spills were not from its plant reportedly sealed up the main entrance to the plant and stopped workers including the expatriates from going into the office.

Fishermen in the locality were said to have spotted the spills at Inuaeyid, Ndito Eka Iba, the jetty beach area of Iwopom and other adjoining communities.

A fisherman simple identified as Asuquo Edigheyong told newsmen that “our farmlands, fishing and other maritime activities, which remain our only source of livelihood has been completely disrupted”.

Also reacting to the spills, the youths President of Mkpanak, Peter Peter Afaiko; and his colleagues of Inuaeyid, Itrechio Kingsley and Moses Imoh, Chairman of Ibeno Youths Presidents’ Forum (IYPF), insisted that “operation occupy Mobil continues until our demands are met”.

“We want Mobil to negotiate with us on how and when to clean the spill and adequate compensation because our waters with aquatic lives and farmlands have been seriously polluted by frequent oil spill from Mobil facility”, they stressed.

The Paramount Ruler of Ibeno, Owong Effiong Achianga, said “I have been briefed by the Chairman of the Council of the spills”, regretting that ExxonMobil was reluctant to claim the spill emanated from its facility.

Achianga, who doubles as the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs maintained that “we are waiting for ExxonMobil to clean the spill and to negotiate for compensation”.

The Commissioner in-charge of Transport and Petroleum Affairs in the state, Mr. Orman Esin, said immediately he heard about the protest he abandoned his office in Uyo, the state capital and rushed to the area to calm the youth.

The Commissioner called on the youths not to take the laws into their hands as everything is being done to address the situation.

His words: “I have talked to the protesters to remain calm and peaceful. I also spoke with the Paramount ruler to calm the protesting youths while we try to establish whether the spill came from Mobil facility.

“When the truth is established as to where the spill came from, we will summon stakeholders meeting on how to address the problem”, he declared.

The management of Exxonmobil had in a statement issued by the Manager in-charge of Government and Public Affairs, Mr. Ogechukwu Udeagha denied the spills

“The company confirms that no oil was spilled from any of its facility. Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) remains committed to providing environmentally safe operations and ensuring that the health and environment of our neighbouring communities are protected”, he said.