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Property owners protest against Shell’s alleged land grab in Bayelsa

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Some landowners in Bayelsa State have protested against Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) alleged land grabbing at the Akenfa/Okakri section of its Enwhe-Gbarain Phase 3A pipeline project.

The aggrieved landlords, who besieged the project site along the Yenegwe-Okakri-Kolo Road, yesterday, alleged that SPDC’s activities in the project had destroyed their property.

They lamented that SPDC embarked on the project without paying them compensation for their lands, which they acquired legitimately from the Okakri Community.

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They also complained that the oil firm forcibly carried out excavation and laying of pipes, while threatening to use the military to deal with them if they attempt to stop the project.

The angry protesters carried placards with inscriptions as Shell Pay Us Before You Use Our Land; Shell Is Wicked; Several Buildings Have Been Destroyed By Shell; Shell Pay For Buildings You Have Destroyed Before You Start Work and Shell Has Refused To Pay Compensation For Buildings Destroyed.

The incident, however, disrupted work on the site, as the workers were forced to halt activities. The landlords also took their demonstration to the premises of Morpol Engineering Services, the contractors handling the project for SPDC.

Speaking, leader of the protest, Ebipadei Ariwei, disclosed that SPDC had destroyed the ongoing building project on her land, which she bought in 2011.

“We are protesting against Shell’s refusal to pay us compensation for our lands it has destroyed. Without our knowledge, they came to the site and destroyed my building and started laying pipes.

“When I came and saw them excavating and scattering my building, I asked them why they are doing that and they said they are Shell and that they will settle us, because they want to acquire the land.

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“They later called that they want to negotiate, but the negotiation has not been concluded and they have come to forcefully lay pipes and destroy my building. I demand that they pay us adequate compensation,” she said.

She said the SPDC was oppressing them because they were ordinary citizens, adding: “They are threatening me that if I don’t give up the land, they will use soldiers to brutalise me, because it is a Federal Government project and they must take the lands by force.”

Another protester, Training Ariwei, said his building was also destroyed and vowed that the demonstration would continue until the SPDC settled all landowners adequately.

Efforts to contact SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, Bamidele Odugbesan failed, as he neither answered calls, nor replied to text message sent to his cell phone at the time of filing this report.

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