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NNPC landlords accuse army of harassment in Rivers

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The army in Rivers State has been accused of molesting landlords of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) oil facility in Omoku, who were protesting against an oil services firm.

Leading members of Omuebirika, Omukara, Umutobin and Umuela families of Omoku in Ogba Egbema Ndoni Council Area, Uche Tobin said the harassment of the indigenes by the army was condemnable and unacceptable.

Tobin explained that their families have been landlords to NNPC for decades, saying they were protesting peacefully against a contracting firm to the NNPC that refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the families since 2016.

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He said they have been negotiating with the firm with the aim at providing employment and contract opportunities at NNPC facility, a Custody Transfer Metering Station (CTMS) project operated by Nestoil for the corporation.

“Since 2016 that Nestoil has been executing the CTMS, management of NNPC has directed the company to meet the host families and reach an agreement to negotiate mutual benefits before operating, but they refused.

“We said if you don’t want to commit yourself to an MOU, let’s discuss an understanding on the level of compensation, jobs, procurements and other opportunities that will accrue to the communities in line with local content and they also refused.

“And now we went on peaceful protest and the next thing, Nestoil mobilised soldiers to chase us away. They beat up even a serving councilor, molested elderly women and men. Ironically, a truce meeting the company requested yesterday was yet to commence when they invited soldiers, he stated.

Tobin said it was wrong for the army to forcibly disperse the protesting families who were demanding their legitimate rights as contained in the Nigerian Content Act.

He also urged army headquarters to prevail on those deployed to guard oil facilities in Omoku to be more circumspect in dealing with community issues.

The Guardian’s attempt to contact the Spokesman of the 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, Major Charles Ekeocha, as at press time did not yield results.

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