Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Representatives of several oil producing communities from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia, Imo and Rivers States on Tuesday protested at the National Assembly against some discriminatory practices of Shell Petroleum Development Company in payment of land rentals.
The protesters accused the oil giant of not paying uniform land rental fees in oil producing communities, noting that while it paid N600,000 per hectare in some communities, it paid N200,000 in others.
They further accused SPDC of refusing to address issues of non-payment of land owners in oil producing states, and of being discriminatory in payment of land re-acquisition fees and rentals for land.
The protesters, who besieged the main gate of the National Assembly, bore placards giving insight into their grievances with SPDC.
â€œTenants (SPDC) donâ€™t have right to impose payment on landlords,â€ â€œShell, pay landlords N600K per hectare,â€ and other such messages.
They also petitioned the Senate, who they noted had given SPDC an opportunity to resolve the issues with the communities.
In a petition addressed to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by Bekele Jones & Associates on behalf of the protesters, SPDC was accused of failing to heed the resolution of the upper legislative chamber which directed the firm to hold a meeting with the parties.
A copy of the petition named â€˜Petition on Payment of Discriminatory Land Re-acquisition and Rentals for Land by SPDC Nigeria Ltd in the Niger Delta,â€™ â€˜Protests against SPDC Nigeria limitedâ€™s Refusal to address Issues of Non-Payment of Land owners in oil producing states as raised in Petition,â€™ was obtained by THISDAY.
It reads in part: â€œVide the Petition with the above caption datedOctober 20, 2017 and laid on October 25, 2017, we brought a petition to the Senate against the SPDC of Nigeria Ltd stating that, amongst several other issues, the rental payment by the company to its host communities for the 2014-2018 payment cycle was discriminatory, the company paying N200,000 per hectare for some communities as against N600,000 per hectare for other communities.
â€œThe petition was referred by the Senate to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions which committee both parties appeared before on November 21, 2017. On that day, the Managing Director and other delegates from the SPDC Nigeria Limited failed to satisfactorily explain the discriminatory payments.
â€œBut the said Senate Committee magnanimously gave the SPDC Nigeria Limitedd a soft landing, mandating it to hold a meeting with the parties in that regard to harmonise the issues raised. But at the meeting which the said company thereafter convened on November 29, 2017 inviting only Parsley Consult Ltd and ignoring Emagu Nigeria Limited against the directive of the Senate Committee, the said Company circumscribed what to discuss and bluntly restated their companyâ€™s initial position on all the issues raised in the petition.
â€œIn a bid to address this intransigence by SPDC Nigeria Limited, the company was directed by the Committee to pay all our clientâ€™s claims unfailingly in December 2017 but the said company neglected and refused to do so till date. Both parties were thereafter slated to appear at the proceedings of the said Committee for January 23, 2018 but the said company refused, and neglected to come.
â€œHence, the said company holds the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and by extension the entire National Assembly of this great country in contempt, which that company, a Multinational certainly cannot do in either of its home countries of the Netherlands or the United Kingdom or in any other country for that matter without repercussions,â€ it read.
The petitioners urged the Senate to issue a warrant of arrest for the Managing Director of SPDC of Nigeria Limited so as to compel his attendance and explanation for disobeying the Senate resolution.