ERA TESTIMONIES 25th April 2002
CHEVRON'S CORPORATE LIES EXPOSED AGAIN!
They are a very bad set of
people. If I were in a position today, I would have
asked them to leave Nigeria and go back to the U.S.A. We don't need them no
In this package of Environmental Testimonies, we present to you voices from the Ilaje community. Some of our testifiers are survivors of the May 28, 1998 incident where Ilaje youths were murdered in cold blood on Parabe Platform by the Nigerian military working for and with Chevron. In the present confrontation naval gunboats fired at the protesting youths but no body got killed or injured in the unwarranted attack.
FIRST, LET'S READ THE AP REPORT OF TUESDAY 23/04/2002:
"About 20 young men from the local Ilaje community stormed the rig on Sunday, local officials of the oil company said. The rig is five miles off the town of Escravos. By Tuesday there were about 40 raiders on the platform. Company officials said the men were holding 88 people hostage and had blocked off the helicopter landing deck, forestalling a rescue attempt.
"The oil giant said the hostage-takers were demanding jobs and had refused to open talks. ChevronTexaco informed the Nigerian government and has asked community leaders to help. "There were no immediate details on the nationalities of the hostages.Activists and criminals alike frequently attack oil installations and kidnap employees. The workers are seldom harmed.
"Often, the hostage-takers demand jobs or other compensation, or say they are acting in protest of the oil-rich region's desperate poverty and of environmental damage caused by drilling. Western oil companies routinely refuse comment on whether they have paid ransom."
HERE NOW ARE THE VOICES FROM ILAJE
Chevron has been here for long, we approached them time without number for recognition (i.e. official notification that they are working in Ilaje communities), so that we can enjoy meagre benefits linked with it. Several letters have been written without response. The kabiyesi (paramount ruler), Oba Adebanjo Obafesibi (the Olugbo of Ilaje-land) also wrote in his personal capacity, still no response, so we decided that some day we will catch them red handed. About a week ago we saw their barge at Mina field, so we decided to stop their operations. There was nothing like hostage taking or kidnapping. Our resolve was "No negotiations, no operations". I personally lead the group of youths to LLOYD NOBLE RIG; we neither quarrelled nor harassed anybody. We had a good time; all we did was to stop their operations pending when we are recognised. After our action, they have recognised us and promised to continue dialoguing next week Tuesday 30th April, 2002. Concerned youths were there for 2 days only. While we were there, security men (mobile police, navy) came on a naval boat and started shooting at us. The rig superintendent called then on radio and told them of the implication of their action, and that if anybody is killed then the existing problem is further compounded. That was the way another Parabe incident was averted. They were bent on killing people again.
- Mr. Austin Omagbemi
Chair, Obi Confederation of Oil Producing Communities
The Chevron newspaper report about kidnapping and hostage taking is another lie to mislead the public. They have an unsettled dispute with local fishermen, before the Parabe killing, nets and other fishing materials were destroyed and a call for dialogue has yielded no result for many years now. The area under dispute is in Ondo and not in Delta State.
How can Ilaje youths go to Delta State and stop Chevron operations? Let them admit the fact, recognise us and live up to expectation. I could recall a spill that occurred before the Nigeria civil war (fought between 1967 and 1970) tagged "YEYE SPILL", livestock, fishes, and farm produce were destroyed. Till date communities affected have been neglected. Sea incursion has greatly affected Ayetoro, Awoye, Aboreke and others along the shoreline. Yesterdays' meeting was deadlock because they tried to cajole us after over 9 hours of dialogue without results. Chevron is not the type of flower I think any body will like to have in their garden or vicinity. They are poisonous. They disdain us.
One recent Christmas they decided to become good neighbours and sent gifts to our 94 communities. From Obilumore to Jedo, there are about 14 communities and from Ilepete to Abetobo are about 80 communities, totalling 94 communities. Chevron gave the following item as Christmas gift:
1. 10 scholarships
2. 5 bags of rice
3. 5 Goats
4. 5 tins of vegetable oil
How can over 94 communities share the above items? As a result of this, there was a great dispute among the 94 communities. Youths against Paramount ruler, Bales against bales, communities against communities, till date the effects of the Christmas gift are still raging. This is not what the communities need.
- Chief E.A. Agbudeloye
Bale of Oberewe Community,
Host Community to Omoro well
LLOYD NOBLE RIG is located in Ondo State, about 50 kilometres from Escravos and not 5 km, as Chevron has earlier stipulated.
Communal crisis between the oil companies and oil producing communities is a result of degradation in different forms. Youth's restiveness is as a result of their insensitivity to the plight of oil producing communities.
Chevron has been operating in this area for over 45 years now, no tangible or meaning development, except divide and rule. Express and Consolidated oil has been in this land for over 10 years now, combined with Chevron equal to an unending environmental degradation. Until the federal government seats down to address this problem, the crisis will continue. The youths and elderly alike have no job any longer. The continental shelf that was for fishing activities and expeditions has been converted to offshore location and our fishing grounds taken away from us because of oil. The Supreme Court judgement regarding on-shore and offshore locations is a complete aberration, an attempt to appropriate the right of oil producing communities to the federal government. They should also be educated that the areas considered offshore locations are traditional fishing grounds of various communities.
-- Otunba M.E. Omegbemi
Ex-Chairman, State Advisory Committee on Oil
We have long agitated for recognition from chevron, they denied and refused us. Chevron Oil Company is deceitful, double standards and manoeuvring people. The Petroleum law recognises communities, and the relationship between oil companies and host communities. When prospecting for crude oil in an area, the community or representative ought to be contacted. We are denied all these including developmental projects. Chevron brought LLOYD NOBLE RIG/BARGE into our domain without consultations; we had to stop them so that we can negotiate. Yesterday, they told the ruling association of this area OBI-CONFEDERATION and ASSICOPC they are in Ilaje and willing to recognise us. Before now they said they operations were in Delta State. Maybe when they are in Delta State they will tell the people there that they are in Ilaje, Ondo Sate so that Ondo and Delta sates may fight while the oil flows.
Chevron had representatives in that meeting Shola Adebawo, Jide Ogidiolu, security men (mobile police, navy) local government council and made a public pronouncement that though we have been recognised but they are not willing to pay compensation of any kind. Imagine that level of injustice.
-Pastor Adewale Omojuwa
Association of Ilaje Central Oil Producing Communities (ASSICOPC)
They want to eat without negotiating with community people. Before Parabe incident we wrote a letter for negotiation which they ignored and finally killed our sons and a few days ago they behaved that way shooting at us. God protected us from their bullets.
They are a very bad set of people. If I were in a position today, I would have asked them to leave Nigeria and go back to the U.S.A. We don't need them no more.
-Prince Johnbull Sunday Irowanu
(Elder Brother to Late Arolika Irowanu
Killed 1998 at Chevron's Parabe platform)
Chevron uses the age-old divide and rule tactics. We however taking them up on that, this time we are talking about an oil field with several oil wells. We are only asking for recognition so that we can benefit from their operations. They only employ casual workers for about 2 to 3 weeks, then fire them. Ilaje youths went to the rig to interact and stop operation until a compromise is reached, we did not kidnap or held any body hostage. They are liars.
-An activist with
Concerned Ilaje Citizens (Larry was shot and critically wounded in the
WHAT YOU CAN DO
For more information contact:
ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION/ FRIENDS OF THE EARTH (FoE, Nigeria)
#214, Uselu-Lagos Road, P. O. Box 10577, Benin City, Nigeria
Tel/Fax: + 234 52 600165 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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# 1 Balogun Street, Ikeja
London: E-mail: email@example.com