The Oil and Gas Producing Areas Enlightenment and Empowerment Initiative (OGPAEEI), a Civil Society Organisation in Bayelsa State, has called for dialogue between Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its host community, Aghoro 1.
The President of OGPAEEI, Mr Collins Jackson made the call in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday in Yenagoa.
Jackson said the two parties needed to embrace dialogue in order to settle their disagreement over the signing of the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report on the May 17 oil spill in the area.
Recall that the community and SPDC disagreed on the land area impacted by the oil leak along the Trans Ramos Pipeline within its oilfield in Aghoro communities of the state.
The disagreement had stalled the release of the JIV report on the incident because the community leaders who participated in the investigation to determine the cause of the spill declined signing the report.
The oil company and the community have had wide disparity over the impacted area as claimed by each of the parties.
Jackson, who explained that the objective of the organisation was to promote peace and mutual understanding between oil companies and their host communities said peace was needed to drive development.
“Dialogue is the best tool to apply while handling oil and gas-related matters between the company and the host community in order to prevent an impending doom.
“I must recall that Aghoro 1 and 2 communities brought to the notice of our NGO a sensitive issue of oil spillage that occurred as result of SPDC’s equipment failure.
“They alleged that the areas impacted by the spill had not been proper mapped since May 17, the incident occurred.
“We learnt that SPDC was called for a tripartite JIV assessment for a proper mapping and what the communities received in return from was intimidation and harassment.
“We have come out to urge them to embrace dialogue,” the President explained.
Meanwhile, Mr Lawrence Sagbagha, Deputy Chief of Aghoro 1, has alleged that SPDC’s act of negligence has caused extensive destruction to the people’s source of economic and social existence.
“We are only urging Shell to avoid the acts that can generate discord and breakdown of law and order in the community. We are not a trouble-making community
We, therefore, call on the Federal and State Governments and well-meaning Nigerians to intervene in this matter and prevent a replay of the Ogoni saga in our area,” he said.
The Media Relations Manager of SPDC, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, has confirmed the disagreement over the JIV report.
“Aghoro 1 community did not agree with a portion of the JIV report but we have not used force; SPDC does not coerce parties to sign JIV reports,” Odugbesan explained.
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