*N26.5bn Oil Spill Fund:Eket Community Shuts Down ExxonMobil Operations*

*N26.5bn Oil Spill Fund:Eket Community Shuts Down ExxonMobil Operations*

Operations at ExxonMobil in Eket, Akwa Ibom State have come to an abrupt
halt, as agitating people of Eket Communities took to the streets on
Thursday to say enough is enough.

The mass protest which was staged simultaneously around Mobil facilities
namely the Airstrip in Eket, Mobil Terminal in Ibeno and Mobil Housing
Estate in Eket, saw placard carrying indigenes of Eket Federal Constituency
crying for the full payments of N26.5bn oil spill compensation to the four
oil producing local governments as previously proposed by the Oil Firm.

The communities lamented that Mobil was insensitive to their plight, as
evident by her refusal to pay the compensation for the 2012 oil spill
incident that they claim resulted in the discharge of more than 300 barrels
of crude oil into the aquatic environment of the four oil producing areas.

Our correspondent in Eket reports that during the protest march some
prominent youth leaders under the aegis of Eket Federal Constituency
Vanguard led by Mr Isaiah Abia and Mr William Mkpa, all condemned Exxon
Mobil for being insensitive to the plight of her host communities.

He said the lack of employment opportunities for the people of the
community, the deplorable condition of social infrastructure in the host
communities, and other hazards resulting from the exploitation by the oil
firm, attest to the poor attitude of the  oil giants to her landlords.

He warned that failure of Mobil to address this ugly trend will leave them
with no option than to put finality on their operation in their land.

They also called for the immediate redeployment of the Managing Director of
Exxon Mobil Mr Mark Ward over his persistent snub of all the overtures from
the communities.

At the Mobil airstrip in Eket, plantain suckers where planted at the gates
while the youth locked the gate with padlock in the full glare of a police
detachment who watched to prevent a degeneration of the crises.

Addressing the protest at Mobil Terminal, Ibeno Mr Isaiah Abia said there
was no going back in calling Mobil to order. He said the protest march came
at the expiration of the 7-day ultimatum earlier issued to the authorities
of Mobil last week.

He said that the people of the areas where totally against the notion that
ExxonMobil wanted to use the oil spill compensation fund to execute
projects in the communities, maintaining that such a notion was an
attestation to the nonchalant attitude of Mobil.

It will be recalled that the Eket communities had urged the multinational
oil firm not to dare the community any further, but to fulfill her
obligation of paying N26.5bn to make for the damages caused by “the 300
barrels of crude oil spillage of November, 2012” which resulted in mayhem
on the economic lives of the coastal communities.

The protesters who chanted with placards and trumpets barricaded the oil
company’s either access gates, while a coffin with the inscription “RIP
Mark Ward” was kept at the gates of Mobil Terminal in Ibeno, amidst other
banners and placards.

Also seen at one of the deserted gates of the Mobil Terminal was a canoe,
wrapped with traditional palm leaves and a white fowl, which the Ibeno
protesters claimed found itself to the gate of the terminal from the river
on its own, and dared authorities of the oil firm to remove the canoe if
they had the guts.

They also blamed the oil producing firm for the abduction of the paramount
ruler of Esit Eket, Chief Ubong Peter Assam, and issued her with an
ultimatum to produce the monarch or risk incurring the wrath of the
communities.

At the Mobil Housing Estate,in Eket, a youth leader from Eket Godwin
Nduaesah said the youths were ready to spend the remaining days of the year
at the Mobil facilities, until the rights of the communities are met by
Mobil.

According to them, nothing will restrain them from obstructing any normalcy
at the operational base of the oil company, adding that should they be
ignored, then no option other than a change of gear and more stringent
actions will be carried out to show the seriousness of the communities.

Addressing the protesters, an assistant commissioner of Police in the State
Gabriel Ashong  advised the youths and women to desist from violent conduct
but to give time for dialogue as it was the best tool in conflict
resolution.

This massive protest comes after the paramount rulers of the four local
governments had on 25th September condemned and rejected an overture of
N2.6 bn offered by the oil giants, maintaining that it was grossly
inadequate for the quantum of loss experienced by the community.

Another communiqué dated 16th October 2013, and signed by representatives
from the four oil bearing communities namely Isaiah Abia(Esit Eket),
William Mkpa(Ibeno), Ime Utin(Onna) and Udo Bassey(Eket) had “condemned in
strong terms several lies, insults, abuses and total disregard by Mobil
Producing Nigeria Unlimited of the agreements reached at the intervention
meetings held by Gov. Godswill Akpabio on November 23, 2012 and July 26,
2013 on the oil spill saga”

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