The people of Idu Ogba community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) have expressed deep concern over the exclusion of their community from the sale and transfer of Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) shares to Oando Plc.
Speaking at a press conference in Idu Ogba on Monday, the traditional ruler of Idu Kingdom, HRH, Eze (Amb) Uche A. Umejuru, asserted that as the host community to Agip, it is their right to be actively involved in this significant transition.
Located in block OML 61 of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) Limited, Idu Ogba community has been a crucial partner for over five decades, hosting NAOC’s Idu fields, an operating oil and gas field that contributes significantly to the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Idu is also home to the Idu Development Plant (Idu Flow Station), which has undergone expansions and retrofitting to support the growing operations and promote gas gathering efforts, aiming to reduce flaring.
Eze Umejuru affirmed that Idu Community plays a pivotal role in the production of oil and gas in the Niger Delta region, supplying gas to the Obiafu-Obrikom (OB-OB) gas plant and connecting to the Brass Rivers Terminal, adding that this supply network facilitates the provision of gas to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), the Indorama Fertilizer and Chemical Company at Eleme, and the Nigeria Independent Power Plant (NIPP).
Additionally, Umejuru who is the ‘Eze Okwu-oku-Onu-ka-Oha 1 of Idu Kingdom’ said NAOC is involved in the production and transportation of liquefied natural gas through its ownership of the Bonny LNG and BGT, a subsidiary of Bonny LNG.
The traditional ruler lamented that despite the significant contributions of Idu Community to the local and national economy, the community has long been neglected in terms of socio-economic infrastructure development and direct benefits from NAOC’s operations. The area has suffered environmental degradation and pollution due to frequent oil spillages and equipment failures, negatively impacting the quality of life for its residents.
Eze Umejuru expressed disappointment with ENI’s sale of 100% of NAOC shares to Oando Plc without considering the interests and concerns of the host community, asserting that this transaction betrays the trust and rights of the Idu Community as landowners.
The paramount ruler demanded that a platform be created for relevant local host communities and stakeholders to be informed and involved in the sale of their land to Oando Plc, while calling on Oando to increase its current participating interests in OML 61 to benefit the host community.
He highlighted the high rate of unemployment in Idu Community, noting that despite having a pool of highly educated graduates in various fields, the community feels marginalized by NAOC, which they accuse of treating them like second-class citizens.
In light of these issues, Eze Umejuru stated, “We are not violent, but we are well-educated citizens who know our rights and the rights of our people not to be suppressed. We will stop at nothing to demand the federal government’s intervention to rectify the anomalies and lack of concern being shown by this company.”
The community leader regretted that oil wells can be a double-edged sword, bringing economic benefits but also substantial environmental risks. Therefore, responsible management and community involvement are essential for sustainable development.
Consequently, Idu Community has issued a 30-day notice for Oando Plc to open negotiations with the landowners to reach an amicable resolution.
The community noted that in the event that the negotiation failed to materialize, the community would dismantle and evacuate all Oando’s facilities from Idu land, to enable them to regain control of their land.
This statement, according to Eze Umejuru, also serves as a statutory notice to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the federal government of Nigeria, on the community’s intention to take legal action to reclaim the land currently occupied by NAOC Limited.
He affirmed that Idu Community is resolute in their pursuit of justice and equitable participation in the sale of NAOC shares, highlighting the importance of respecting the rights and concerns of host communities in the oil and gas sector.