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Delta State government has waded into the crisis between Chevron Nigeria Limited and Polobubo community in Warri North Council Area of the state over the location of a Chevron’s facility on fire.
Polobubo (Tsekelewu) community had alleged that Chevron was trying to cause communal clashes between them and their neighbours in Ondo State by saying that the facility on fire belonged to Ilaje community in Ondo State.
But in a meeting organised by the Delta State government held at the Government House Annex, Warri, Polobubo community leaders vowed to resist the alleged schemes by Chevron Nigeria Limited to cede parts of their land to their Ilaje neighbours in Ondo State.
The meeting was between leaders and elders of the community on one side and representatives of Chevron on the other side, aimed at discussing ongoing faceoff between the two sides over a facility location and an inferno raging on it.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was represented at the meeting by the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor, and the senior special assistant to the governor on Intelligence Gathering And Community Development, Smart Yomi Asekutu.
The community also pleaded with Governor Okowa to among other things, prevail on Chevron to immediately end the inferno on the facility, evaluate the level of health and environmental damage the fire had done to the community and commence immediate remediation, even as he asked for an urgent delineation of the boundaries with Ondo State to forestall border crisis.
It would be recalled that fire had broken out on an oil-well in the area since April 18, however, the situation had also sparked a heated disagreement between Polobubo leadership and the oil multinational, over the designation of the facility on fire; while the community identified it as Ikpalapkala-Bou oil-well, located in their Ijaw community in Delta state, Chevron has insisted that the facility is Ojumale oil-well, located in Ondo state.
The community was represented by the hierarchy of the Polobubo (Tsekelewu) National Council (PNC), including National President, Ebilate Mac-Yoroki; the General Secretary, Midwest Kukuru; former President, Edmund Tiemo; one of the clan heads of Egbema, Mathew E. O. Tiemo; Dickson Asoki, among others.
Chevron’s management was also represented at the meeting, which held at the Delta State Government House (Annex), Warri, by Tony Emegere and Happy Appai, both of the Policy Government and Public Affairs (PGPA) Department.
Presenting the communities position at the meeting, Mac-Yoroki expressed sadness over the unpleasant and provocative positions that Chevron’s operations and recent actions had put the people trough, charging the Delta state government to step in and defend the position of its people by prevailing on the company to take steps remedy every wrong done to the community since it commenced operations in the area.
“The oil multinational had continued feeding the mass media and other agencies that the incident occurred in Ondo state. This is unacceptable and we will not succumb to such reckless and unsubstantiated claims.
“Your Excellency sir, the aspiration of Ondo state government to have our community under its control could be traced back to the mid-70s, resulting in the boundary disputes between Delta and Ondo states, which final decisions were made in favour of Delta state.
Meanwhile, responding on behalf of Chevron, Emegere said the company, in a bid not to ignite communal crisis between the Ijaw of Polobubo in Delta state and Ilaje of Ondo state had been playing safe, dealing with both sides equally, adding that it would not be the duty of Chevron to determine who owned the land on which the facility is located.
Although he initially denied reports that his company had allocated the land in question to Ondo state, he was immediately called to order by leaders of the community, citing media reports that quoted a department of the company, categorically zoning the land to Ondo state.
The representative of the governor to the meeting, Mrakpor had tried to persuade the representatives of the company to see to it that immediate measures were taken to ease the negative effect of the fire on the environment and the health of the people.
He, however, said that he would take the message back to the governor for appropriate actions, adding further that the state government would soon visit the site of the fire incident and the disputed location.