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Our demand for separate HCDT not negotiable — 7 Shell’s EA hosts



The seven protesting communities occupying Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Estuary Area (EA) in Bayelsa say their demand for separate Host Community Development Trust is not negotiable.

The communities had resolved to maintain a peaceful occupation of the EA field around the Sea Eagle Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, while awaiting favourable resolution at the negotiating table.

Mr Timothy Geregere, Chairman of Bisangbene, and representative of the seven host communities, said on Tuesday, that the meeting between SPDC officials and the communities on May 30, ended without resolving the dispute.

He said that the oil firm told the seven communities to write to the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to request that they want a separate HCDT.

“What transpired at the meeting is unacceptable and an indication that SPDC is taking our peaceful disposition for granted and having exhaustively towed the path of dialogue the only option left is shut down the entire field.

“We cannot understand the position that Shell is saying that the EA Host Community Development Trust is subject of inter communal litigation, why then did they go ahead to incorporate the EA HCDT clustering us with five alien communities?

“We have made it abundantly clear in many letters from when the idea was mooted.

We want all to know that SPDC should take responsibility for any breach of the existing peace at the EA fields haven pushed us to the wall.

“Their double speak on this matter is unacceptable, it is not in our place to write to NUPRC, it is in their place to give NUPRC who is the regulator and give them the constitution of the HCDT.

We reject the EA HCDT as currently constituted, it is unacceptable,” Geregere said

The community leader insisted that a separate HCDT was not negotiable, adding that there were several examples where other oil firms like Chevron and ExxonMobil had to constitute multiple HCDTs in same field to respect the cultural lineage of host communities.

NEWSVERGE recalls that the communities in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa took the protest to the EA oilfields, off the Atlantic coastline, on May 20.

The protesters arrived at the EA oilfields on speedboats chanting solidarity songs in the Ijaw dialect.

According to him, the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, mandates oil firms to set aside three per cent of their operational expenses for community development to be managed by HCDT.

He explained that the separation became necessary because the 12 communities in the EA, including five other communities, could not work together.

He said that the seven communities that had resolved to work together included, Bisangbene, Amatu I, Amatu II, Letugbene, Orobiri, Ogbintu and Azamabiri.

They insisted on having a separate trust from the five other communities, which are Bilabiri 1, Bilabiri 2, Ikeni, Izetu, and Agge.

When contacted, SPDC Spokesperson, Mr Michael Adande, said the matter was already in court.

“The EA Host Communities Development Trust is a subject of intra-communal litigation, the outcome of which is being awaited before any further steps by the SPDC.”

Nathan Nwakamma

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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