Tension in Eleme as SPDC Maneuver to Start Oil Production in the Area
Investigations by Eleme Research Foundation has revealed that the people of Eleme and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) may engage in a fresh hostilities following what the Elemes called SPDC’s attempt to pitch some group of Elemes against the people in order to resume oil production activities in the area.
The Eleme Research Foundation (ERF), after its monthly meeting in Ogale yesterday, said it was outraged by confirmed reports of renewed attempts by SPDC to commence oil production activities without any agreement with the Eleme people.
In a statement signed by the Director of Research and Documentations, Goda Osaro Ollornwi, the Foundation said, “We are aware that SPDC is not only after commencing oil operation activities in Eleme, but also to use Eleme as a base from where to drain Ogoni oil”.
The actions of Shell have already created tension across the whole of Eleme. In Ebubu, Ogale, Onne, Akpajo, Ekporo, and Agbonchia communities, SPDC is attempting to activate its oil wells, manifolds, flow stations, and pipelines under the protection of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and recruited thugs.
The resistance against SPDC’s unwelcome activities including pitching our people against themselves in an attempt to resume oil production in Eleme has led to threat to lives and other conflicts that have inflicted pains on innocent people and the leadership of Eleme Research Foundation is appealing for a refrain to avoid fatal clash.
The Foundation also pointed out that during one of the meetings of the SPDC’s created “Eleme Cluster of SPDC-GMoU” held on 2nd August, 2013, at the Covenant Faith International Church, Alesa, there was an exchange of bitter words between the two factions of Akpajo community’s representatives that almost resulted into an open fight. Another argument which erupted between Ebubu and Aleto representatives took the timely intervention of the house to prevent a further open confrontation. Then came the blowing of fire by an Onne representative that turned into a fracas, which eventually led to the closure of the meeting.
“The moves that SPDC has made in the last couples of days are inconvertible steps in resuming oil productions in Eleme. SPDC has repeatedly stated that it is not interested in resuming oil production in Ogoniland without the express consent of the Ogoni people, which invariably includes Eleme. Yet, today, despite a failing peace process, we are seeing specific steps being undertaken by force to resume oil operations in the area. The moves by SPDC to alienate and separate Eleme from Ogoni, fragment and factionalize the people and then begin its oil activities is another attempt to kill our prominent sons and daughters as it did in 1994/1995.
“The SPDC double standard is made manifest. On one hand, Shell has taken inconvertible steps in forcefully resuming oil production activities in Eleme. On the other hand, Shell is maneuvering and tricking the Elemes into signing an enslavery and exploitative unilaterally doctored agreement which it christened “Global Memorandum of Understanding” to deceitfully claim the people’s consent and resume oil activities.
The statement further revealed that SPDC has been holding secret meetings with 3 representatives from each of the 16 oil producing communities of Eleme to indoctrinate and convince them into endorsing the kangaroo “Global Memorandum of Understanding” which has nothing global in it nor has anything favourable for Eleme people.
“Towards the execution of its alternative strategy (in case the forceful re-entry fails), on Thursday June 20, 2013, SPDC, through its paid contractors – Treasure House Consult – organized an orchestrated training tagged, “Negotiation Skills for Community Discussants: An SPDC’s GMoU Project for Operational Areas” for the 48 community representatives. The training which lasted for a whole day surprisingly came to climax with the presentation of an already prepared agreement by SPDC for signing. The signing of the “Global Memorandum of Understanding” which SPDC christened “Ice Breaking” in the Program was turned down by the 48 wise men and women from the 16 oil communities of Eleme to the astonishment of Shell. The communities’ representatives requested among others time: to study the SPDC produced agreement; to enable them revert to the communities for wider consultation; make quality inputs; and the right to reject the purported GMoU if found unacceptable by the Eleme people, a position which SPDC reluctantly succumbed to.
After the training session and the aborted agreement signing ceremony held at Presidential Hotels, Port Harcourt on Thursday June 20, 2013, the secret meeting reconvened twice: first, on Monday 22 July, 2013 (although postponed due to unsafe venue as the over 50 people stocked into a room met for maximum of 30 persons refused to proceed with the discussion), and secondly on Tuesday 23 July, 2013 at SPDC (Industrial Area) Office, Room B4, 244, with Shell failing to break the deadlock. Since then, the behind the scene underground moves by SPDC has been intensified and this is already generating tensions in Eleme.Meanwhile, it is being rumoured that some persons have been empowered to write a letter to SPDC purporting to be the position of Eleme people, requesting Shell to commence oil production activities in the area. In this regard, we therefore call on SPDC to ignore such letter as it did not emanate from a consensus opinion on the issue. We are also pleading with SPDC to immediately stop the onslaught, or be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in Eleme, as the developments provocatively assault our collective interest and threaten peace in our communities. We would resist SPDC through every legal means at our disposal.