Again, Akwa Ibom Community Protests Over Alleged Marginalisation By SEEPCO

Residents of Iko Community in Akwa Ibom State protesting the alleged marginalisation the community by SEEPCO

By Ovie Okpare

The people of Iko community in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has once again protested what they described as marginalization of the community by an oil operating firm in the area, Sterling Energy Exploration and Production Company (SEEPCO).

It, however, demanded for an immediate stoppage of work by SEEPCO until a joint Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is reached.

The protesters expressed their grievances on Tuesday during a peaceful protest at the premises of the oil firm over alleged neglect and under-development of the area in spite of the huge resources derived from the area through oil exploration.

While lamenting the action of the oil company, they lamented that the community has lost its ‘cemetery ground’ owing to the ongoing dredging of the area for further exploration activities in the area.

They also decried the SEEPCO’s failure to carry out EIA or MOU before kick-starting its operations in the area.

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Speaking on behalf of the community, popular lawyer and human rights activist, Dr. Akpor Mudiaga Odje, stated that despite the community’s contributions to the nation’s oil revenue, they have not witnessed any form of development.

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Odje posited that President Muhammadu Buhari, “In his dualistic position as the president of the country and the substantive minister of petroleum by authorizing the operations of OML 13, and the Iko community has a significant land mass of oil and gas resources.

“Within the OML 13, Iko is the largest, but they are minority within the minority, and as such their rights have been expropriated by the larger society within the context of their state and environment.

“What we are trying to do is to draw the attention to the Federal Government and the appropriate authorities and their elected officials, that their rights need to be protected and the company have to dialogue with NPDC and Sterling Global, on the rights to compensation, good environment, and remedial action for the devastated environment.”

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Similarly, a leader in the community, Mufari Jogomas said “while the company has taken the community as assets, they should also take the community as liability, by taking care of the destruction of the community”

“They have refused to look into our demands. They only claim they’re doing dredging but they’re doing other jobs relating to the oil and gas business. We have called them for a roundtable talk but they have refused”

They placard-carrying protesters stressed that they will continue with the protest urged the oil company to stop exploration activities until it enters agreement for the activities.

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On his part, Chief Roland Numgba said “we are calling on SEEPCO to stop work in Iko OML 13, until a valid EIA and MOU report is brought before continuing with their work in our community.

“Iko protest today (Tuesday) is aimed at protecting our health, livelihood and environment. SEEPCO must pay us compensation on all illegal dredging without EIA, and the damages caused by desecrating our cemetery”, he added.

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Meanwhile, efforts to speak with the management of SEEPCO on the allegations by the people of Iko were unsuccessful as official of the firmed declined to respond.


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