“The Nigerian Army 222 Battalion from Agbaro-Otor unit command came and brutalized them with four women sustaining various degrees of injury and the women leader Chief Mrs Igbevia Erube forcefully thrown to their hilux van and taken to unknown destination. The placards, chairs and canopy they brought were destroyed by the army and blocked the road leading to the company’s gate.” -Mrs. Ewoma,
The women of Oleh kingdom in Isoko South local government area of Delta State, has staged a peaceful protest over marginalization and neglect by oil companies operating in the area.
The women in their numbers were at Olomoro / Oleh flow station chanting songs and displaying placards with various inscriptions as “ heritage give our men contracts and employ our children” among others.
Speaking to newsmen, Mrs. Ewoma Ochewru said, oil companies operation in Oleh has overtime refused to employ indigenous graduates of the area and continuously employ non indigenes to the disadvantage of parents that sent the children to school. Mrs. Ewoma stated that “it is painful to see oil companies operating daily with thousands of barrels of oil carried away from the area and the people continue to wallow in abject poverty”.
She said, the under development and marginalization of the Oleh community by the oil companies has become unbearable even as they heard that Heritage Energy Operational Limited, manager of OML30 oil block comprising of 111 communities in the board of Isoko and Urhobo cluster group were Oleh, Olomoro and Emede shared ownership of Olomoro / Oleh flow station will soon hand over to another oil company that is not known.
She noted that, while the women were on the peaceful protest, the Nigeria Army 222 battalion from Agbaro – Otor unit command came and brutalized them with four women sustaining various degrees of injury and the women leader Chief Mrs Igbevia Erube forcefully thrown to their hilux van and taken to unknown destination. According to Mrs. Ewoma, the placards, chairs and canopy they brought were destroyed by the army and blocked the road leading to the company’s gate.
Mrs. Ewoma maintained that, until the women leader is returned back, they will remain at the Olomoro / Oleh flow station premises, adding that information over the army brutality has been sent to HRM Anthony William O. Ovrawah Omogha 1, the Odiologbo of Oleh kingdom and Chief Obaro Ekokobe, chairman Oleh community development committee.
When visited, Chief Obaro confirmed the protest and condemned the army action on women protesting peacefully. He noted that since 2013, Oleh community had agreement with the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and government representatives during a protest, but none of the points of agreement reached were fulfilled by successive companies working in the area.
He stated that “ I heard the women are protesting because Heritage Energy Operational Limited that took over from NPDC since 22nd of March 2017 with promises of developing the area, is about handing over to another company not known to Oleh community”.
Chief Obaro noted that the women became more grieved when none of Oleh indigenes were considered for employment and alleged that one A.A.P. Works, a nongovernmental organization is coming to take over from Heritage Energy Operational Limited without consultation with the host’s communities.
He added that the women heard of employment into various positions ongoing but none of the indigenes is considered, stressing that indigenous contractors are also deprived slots by the oil company. He posited that dialogue should be the best option for solution and not intimidation and arrest of women protesting peacefully.
When contacted, HRM Anthony William O. Ovrawah Omogha 1, the Odiologbo of Oleh kingdom confirmed the protest, stating that the women were aggrieved due to marginalization of oil companies operating in the area. The monarch condemned the arrest of the women leader even as he decried the impoverished condition of the people due to the activities of oil exploration in Oleh community.
At the time of filing the report, contacts to Heritage Energy Operational Limited were not reachable just as information on the release of the women leader Chief Mrs. Igbevia Erube by 222 battalion Nigeria army Agbaro -Otor Unit command, filtered in.