The People of Sangana Community in Brass local Government of Bayelsa State have called on the Bayelsa State Government and oil sector regulatory agencies to call indigenous oil company Conoil Producing Nigeria Limited to order over the death of their youth who were shot at the company’s offshore platform near the community by security operatives guiding the facility. A young man, Ido Ikiowori 28 years old, was shot dead, while two others are reported missing. Two others, who sustained very serious gunshot wounds but, survived the incident which occurred Monday, May 29, 2023, are receiving treatment at a private hospital in the Bayelsa State capital Yenagoa.
The youths were said to have gone to the offshore Conoil platform referred to ”Aunty Julie,” located in the community in a boat, to draw the company’s attention to issues affecting them, present a letter containing the community’s issues for resolution and to remind Conoil of the MOUs the community had with them which had not been fulfilled.
Speaking to selected journalists on Monday in Yenagoa, Chief ThankGod Robinson Angadega, who led a delegation from the community regretted that the company was still busy operating as if nothing happened.
He stated that, “In 2019, N120 million was agreed to be paid to the community at a round table discussion in Lagos as regards a project fund. That is still pending as we speak. November 1st 2021, a gas explosion occurred leading to the death of most of our fishes. Based on the pressure of the community and assistance of the government, paltry foods stuffs were distributed to the community on December 1st and we agreed that after the despatch of those foods items, discussions as regards compensation would commence and medical experts would be sent to check the health of the people, none was done. In 2020, oil spillage occurred at Adriatic One. Series of letters were written. There is no ministry that has not seen our letters, even the military, parastatals including the Mineral Resources ministry. Nothing was done. In 2021, it was agreed that N3.3 million will be paid to Sangana community monthly, till today nothing has been paid. If you calculate it, it is about N136 million. Conoil is having about 35 well heads in our community and more are coming and yet the people are suffering”.
Giving further insight into the soured relations between the community and the company, which led the youth to employ age long methods of sending messages to the company, whose main corporate operations are in Lagos thousands of kilometres away, Chief Angadega disclosed that, “Just last year, a new leadership of the youth came on board and they started meeting the company to follow up with the demands. The company seems not willing to yield. Lots of efforts were made, we reported to our big brothers at the state level to make sure that Conoil listens to us, they didn’t listen. So we go to the platform to let them know about any letter we want to despatch to Lagos. This has been a long tradition. Those youths went in demand of the outstanding issues on that 29th May. They went to dispatch this letter to Conoil. These military people shot them.”
Conoil began its operations in Sangana in 1999. Giving further details into the incident which turned deadly leading to the loss of lives, the community leader noted that, “These youths were not armed. They were not violent. They went peacefully on that fateful day. Two are wounded, two are missing. It is a bitter pill for us to swallow and Sangana will not keep quiet because society is not a graveyard that we will continue to be silent. Conoil doesn’t have a liaison office in Bayelsa. And before we could despatch a letter to them, no way. Sometimes when we go, they will block us and the letter will bounce back.
Reacting to the development, Ebieri Jones, an engineer and Commissioner of Mineral Resources Bayelsa State who said that he has not sighted any letter from the community, said he was aware of the matter.
He said the issue borders more on security and not on oil MOU, stating that the government took the wounded youths to the hospital and took the corpse to the mortuary.
He said, “We are not talking of MOU now. We are talking about host community development funds. The time of MOU is over. But I know that Conoil has not employed anybody from the community since they are working there. They are not a responsible corporate citizen. You can quote me on that.
“We have held several meetings and Conoil is not a responsible corporate citizen. And previous MOUs have not been fully met. Comparatively, based on the number of years they have stayed, there is nothing that the community has gained from Conoil.
The public relations officer of the company, Richard Edegbai, did not pick calls made to him, neither did he reply to the text messages sent to his telephone before this report was filed.
Chief Mike Adenuga considered one of the wealthiest Nigerians is founder and chairman of the board of Directors Conoil Producing Nigeria Ltd.