Chevron Well Fire: Ondo Communities Caution Oil Firm against Extortionists

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James Sowole in Akure

Stakeholders of communities affected by fire that engulfed the Chevron Ojumole Well 1 platform in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State have advised the company to beware of some individuals who might want to capitalise on the situation to extort it.

The stakeholders also raised the alarm as well as dissociated themselves from attempts by some individuals to capitalise on the incident for political gains.

The action of the communities was contained in a statement signed by six individuals representing various interests in the affected areas, including youths and ex-militants.

In the statement signed by Rev.Ola Judah Akinyomi, Mr Owolemi Aiyeran, Otunba Sam Obasuaye Chief Ayadi, Mr Wale Tomiye, Comrade Igbekele Orisa and Monday Mabanmi, they condemned the acts that caused the fire incident.

The stakeholders said those people parading themselves as leaders are not the appointed leaders of the affected people, and therefore cannot speak for them.

The fire, which attracted attention of various regulatory agencies, impacted communities like Ikorigho, Ojumole, Zion Ikorigho, Otumara, Ajegunle, Ilueri and Bowoto.

According to the stakeholders, the fire was caused by activities of “wicked and inhuman oil thieves and illegal bunkers who have no respect for human lives and the environment.”

“Immediately the fire started, Chevron informed our communities and our representatives were part of the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) team to the site of the incident on April 20, 2019.

“During the JIV, it was discovered that the fire incident was caused by oil thieves who have been stealing crude oil from the facility.

“It is a sad thing that valuable assets mostly owned by the people of Ilaje land and the environment have been imperiled by the actions of a few greedy individuals who tampered with the idle well apparently to steal crude oil, thereby leading to this unfortunate fire incident.

“We the Ilaje people are hospitable, and when a true Ilaje man sees his neighbour’s house on fire, he would try to help, not extort him.”

They said the Ilaje people are already working with Chevron to ensure that the people remain safe and the fire is put out as soon as possible.

According to them, “We therefore advise our people not to go near the area where of the fire incident in order not to hamper the efforts to put out the fire or be harmed by the inferno.”

However, the stakeholders called on Chevron to provide relief materials for the people in the communities destroyed by the fire and continue to implement all the activities being discussed in their continued engagement with leaders and representatives of the affected communities.