Group seeks inquiry into death of 2,000 persons in Rivers
The Omoku People’s Forum (OPF) has charged the Rivers State Government to constitute a judicial panel of inquiry to probe the role of oil companies in the death of over 2, 000 youths in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Council Area between 2015 and 2018.Its President, Emeka Ichoku, said the panel was necessary to forestall a repetition of carnage, urging the state security council to help ensure sustenance of the security efforts in Omoku and encourage same in the entire local government area.
He made the call at the first Omoku Summit with the theme, “Omoku Kingdom: Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow,” saying the Rivers State Government to put in place judicial mechanisms to facilitate the right to know, right to justice and guarantee non-recurrence with the aim of attaining durable peace in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni area of the state.
Ichoku said 2015 to 2018 would be remembered as the darkest period in the recent history of Ogbaland during which over 2000 persons comprising women, children and male youths were killed in gang wars, which he blamed on activities of multinational oil companies operating in the area.
“Our problem is not with our people, but with the multinational oil companies operating in Ogbaland and until the companies realise that Ogba people are human beings and until they implement a proper corporate social responsibility (CSR) in which Ogba people will not only be stakeholders, but shareholders in the companies, we might not have true peace in the area.
“We, therefore, enjoin the state government to setup a judicial panel of inquiry to determine the role played by all the multinational companies operating in Ogbaland in the crises between 2015 and 2018, where over 2,000 persons were killed,” he said.
A former Group General Manager, Corporate Planning and Development Division, NNPC, Dr. Joseph Ellah, who delivered the keynote paper, said because of the strategic importance of the area to the oil and gas industry, vigilance group, the Nigeria Police and security agencies should be supported to forestall a repetition of the conflicts that once engulfed the area.Ellah said in view of the conflict in Omoku and other parts of Ogbaland, it has become necessary to reorder the priorities and focus on a way forward for the area, which has consistently remained the highest producer of crude oil in Rivers State and Nigeria.
“For example, our contribution to the Rivers State Oil and Gas production was 22.40 per cent of Crude Oil and 59.20 per cent of Gas in 1999, 45.82 per cent of crude oil and 56.65 percent of gas in 2002. This trend has remained so till date and had been so since oil production commenced on our land in 1966,” he said.
Consequently, he canvassed the establishment of an Omoku Economic Council to guide the academic and economic development of Omoku, which hosts the ELF TOTAL gas plant that supplies 23 percent of the gas and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) that supplies another 23 per cent to Bonny NLNG. Ellah noted that in view of the contributions of Omoku and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Council Area to Rivers State, the government should adopt and develop Omoku into a mega city because of its huge population and easy access by road and water.