Crisis is brewing at Ubima community in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, the hometown of the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi over a rift in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the community and an indigenous oil firm, All Grace Energy Limited.
In a statement made available to media houses, the President of the Patriotic Youth of Ubima(PYU), Wisdom Chimankpa Igwe and other leaders of the community, alleged that the Indigenous firm had struck understanding with the community to pay N200 million royalty and subsequently paid N50 million.
According to the group, since then the company had been unable to honour the balance of the payment.
The group further said when it insisted on the balance, the company resorted to use of force by inviting law enforcement agents to disrupt and apprehend the leaders.
However, the group said the youths will shut down the operations of the oil firm over its non-implementation of the subsisting Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the community and inability to carry out its corporate social responsibility (CSR) for over five years.
The youths group lamented that the company had also failed to award scholarship and pay other entitlements due the community since it commenced operations.
It vowed to continue agitating for its rights even with the persistent harassment and intimidation by the firm.
It recalled that the group through its lawyer, had written to the Community Development Committee (CDC) to explain to the youths and community leaders the level of implementation of the MoU, adding that they were yet to receive response from either the company or the community leadership.
The youths group lamented that the company favours and employs people outside the community and state, while majority of them were roaming the streets in the community without job.
It claimed that the Community Development Committee had prevented them from coming together because of their alleged secret dealings with companies operating in the community.
The group alleged that the CDC confirmed that out of N200million, the company was due to pay the community, it has only paid N50million, which they claimed, has not been accounted for.
They regretted that the company, with the huge revenue generated from Ubima community, has succeeded in impoverishing it, with no single project to boast of, and warned that the youths would, henceforth, take their destiny in their hands.
When contacted, the CDC Chairman, Barrister Mono Okono, advised the youths not to take laws into their hands, and confirmed that the CDC had received the sum of N50million out of N200million.
Okono advised the youths to apply dialogue, warning that get-rich quick syndrome was not the best way to achieve peace and development.
He said the leadership of the community was doing everything possible to resolve the lingering issues, adding that he was not part of those who signed the MoU with the company.
According to him, “the MoU had been signed before I took over the leadership of the community in 2015”, adding that the CDC has no part to play in the looming crisis.
“The CDC cannot interface with the company, rather a separate body known as MIC is the only body empowered by the MoU to interface with the company”, he said.
He also explained that the company’s financial and technical partners were in court over an internal matter, which according to him, means that one party cannot implement what is in the MoU.
Also contacted, the company’s Community Liaison Officer (CLO), Mr. Dandison Onuah, who dismissed the threats by PYU, warned that the youths cannot dictate to him or his family what happens in his land.
Onuah stated that he was one of the rightful owners of the land where the oil firm was located and carrying out its business.
According to him, “I am the rightful owner of the land, somebody who does not own anything cannot dictate to me.
“Ubima community has an organised leadership. We have Ogbakor Ubima headed by a legal practitioner. We have Community Development Committee (CDC) also headed by a legal practitioner. Those touts cannot dictate to us”, he noted.
He said, “the company has no obligation to listen to the PYU, describing them as non-existent trouble-makers bent on destabilising the relative peace in the community”.