By Kelvin Ohoror
OLEH- Women and youths of Olomoro, Emede and Oleh communities, Isoko South local government area of Delta State, have staged a protest against the non payment of cluster five OML30 2019 and 2020 GMOU projects funds by Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited.
The protesters who barricaded the main entrance of the Olomoro/Oleh flow station being operated by the company, chanted songs of grievances as they displayed placards which bore various inscriptions such as “Heritage do not cause problem to cluster 5”, “Oleh, Emede and Olomoro demands the release of their communities projects funds”, “Heritage is not fit to be an oil company”, “Heritage pay cluster 5 2019 and 2020 community GMOU projects funds” among others.
Speaking to newsmen the Chairman of Cluster 5 Community Development Board (CDB) in OML30 Chief Obaro Ekokobe stated that, “it was not our intention to allow our youths and women to protests or barricade the entrance of the facilities of Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited, it is as a result of the company negligence towards the communities in Cluster 5.
“When this money was due to shared there was a problem, after a while they manageably share the 2019 and 2020 project money among the clusters in OML30. But unknowingly to cluster 5 they paid the money into a pre- generated account when we already have existing account with Unity bank.
“We protested, they said they are going to transfer the money back to the original account. Unfortunately while we were doing that we were served the writ of summon from Oleh High Court by one Chief Believe Alakri.”
Chief Ekokobe further said that, while they were following up the court issue Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited wrote a letter through one Mr. Bola that pending the determination of the substantive issue they will not have any dealings with cluster 5.
He noted that, they argued that, the court struck out the case on the ground that there were so many applications, multiplicity of factions and they referred the person that brought the suit to go have dealings with him in Ughelli High Court, that they lack the jurisdiction to entertain the case, that the initial case was made by was in an error.
He stated that, “having struck out the matter from court we wrote a letter and attached the judgement and sent to Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited and they promised that they will facilitate the payment of the GMOU projects funds, but the promise was not fulfilled.”
Comrade Samuel Commander, President General Olomoro Community and Vice- Chairman cluster 5 disclosed that, “two weeks ago, the Attorney General of Delta State invited us for a meeting in Asaba after hearing from both parties, he instructed Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited to pay the cluster 5 communities.
According to him, seven days ultimatum was giving to the company to pay the money, still, the company refused to pay the money. When the ultimatum elapsed we call the Delta State attorney general, he told us he is fed up with the attitude of the company over the non- payment of the money.
“We want the Federal and State government to hear it. We are not leaving without our money, if they like, let them kill us, we are not leaving the flow station.”
Also speaking to newsmen Dr. Benson Okah-Avae also said that, the company is just withholding the money of cluster 5 “with the pretext that there is a case in court of which the case has been dismissed. So, we don’t know the yardstick they are still using to withhold the money.”
Dr. Avae furher said that, the communities need the fund for the development of their area, that is why they decided to take action, noting that Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited is taking the communities for a ride.
He also noted indigenous contractors are also not being paid their money, stating that they are very confident of what they are doing today that it is not hidden from anybody.
Mrs. Grace Ikelegbe one of the protesting women from Olomoro Community also said that, “We are here to tell Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited to pay our GMOU projects funds so that we can develop our community. If they cannot pay, they should leave for a better company who can pay us to take over.
She further stated that, “We are tired of the continuous lies and stories they are telling us. They should also endeavor to pay indigenous contractors”.