These sets of protesters who are mainly males, for some days now are staging round-the-clock peaceful blocked disrupting operations of the company for some days now.
Expediently, in order to place a halt on the lingering siege that may ascalate to breakage of law and order if treated with levity, stakeholders in the locality convened a tripartite meet involving the community, Frontier Oil Company and Security Operatives in the area at the office of the Executive Chairman of Esit Eket Local Government Area, where Mr. Wale Adefila appeared as the only representative from the Oil Company.
Unfortunately, the meeting was declared inconclusive as stakeholders pooh-poohed the company’s attitude of sending one representative to the negotiation meet instead of honouring the invitation with the entire management team and deemed such attitude as an insult to the community.
Remorsefully, Mr. Adefila apologised for the nonchalant attitude of the company over the years and also solicited for forgiveness for being sent as the only representative of the company to the meet.
However, the meeting has been rescheduled to reconvene today Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 at the office of the Executive Chairman, Esit Eket Local Government, Hon. (Engr.) Iniobong Robson.
Immediately after the inconclusive meeting, the member representing Esit Eket/Ibeno State Constituency in the State Legislature, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Usoro Akpanusoh conducted an on the spot fact finding to three communities of Uquo, Edo, and Ebekpi, where youth leaders enunciated their grievances and dissapontments with Frontier Company to include; secret/illegal employment of workers, non compliance to MOU and Local Contents Law, incessant harassment and molestation of women and youth by Frontier Security Operatives, non payment of entitlements among other genuine concerns.
UQUO COMMUNITY-UQUO COCKED OIL WELL
The first point of call was at Uquo Cocked Oil Well.
The protesting youth barricaded the entrance of the facility with palm fronts (eyei) an Akwa Ibom generally acknowledged traditional injuction code.
Addressing the protesting youths, Rt. Hon. Akpanusoh commended the youth for pressing home their demands in a peaceful manner.
While urging them on maintaining the peaceful demeanour throughout the continuous protest, he assured them of a soon to be reached conclusive resolution to the benefit of both the community and Frontier as a company at the end of the rescheduled meeting today, Tuesday.
“I want to appeal to you that while you are staging this protest, let us do it in a very peaceable manner. Do not reduce this into committing crimes thereby taking laws into your hands. Let me inform us that there is a resolution that has just been taken by all stakeholders involved; The Frontier Oil, the Security Agents, representatives of youth, Local Government Chairmen and myself as a member of the State House of Assembly and what ever grievances we may have shall be ironed out and the matter settled amicably, that can assure you.
“But for now, there should be no breakdown of Law and order” hon. Akpanusoh admonished.
The Esit Eket/Ibeno lawmaker further elucidated that; “the meeting is not going to be for every body, it is going to be for selective representatives from the community to come out and state their issues even though issues under contention have already been stated.
“Frontier Oil Company Under the representative of Wale has decided to go back and brief their management team and the community has also stated clearly and unequivocally that they need to meet with the management Director of Frontier Oil.
“Part of the problem as enunciated has to do with employmnet of about five (5) persons without compliance to MOU and many other issues as stated at the meeting.
“Government under the able leadership of Governor Udom Eammanuel is community friendly and he is willing to talk to oil companies to do their bidings base on the MOU signed by communities and I believe once I leave here, I will also alert and inform government on the position of the community.
“For now, the company also has agreed that operations should be shut down until those gray areas are resolved and I want to assure you within a very short period of time, those issues will be tackled and it will be for the overall interests of the community and the company”. he assured!
RESPONSE FROM UQUO YOUTHS
The youth who were bittered in their utterances itemised some of the issues that culminated to the peaceful protest and blocked to include; noncompliance with local contents law, secret employment of staff with negligence to skilled and competent personalities from the community.
“It was the belief of Esit Eket youth that with the presense of Frontior oil in our community our lives shall be better off, but today, reverse is the case.
“Our displeasure anchors on secret employment of staff and total negligence of our youth who are skilled in various areas, Sub-contracts and menial jobs are awarded to Yorubas and we want to clearly spell it out here that, if Frontier Oil is not willing to utilise the Oil well in collaboration with our community, they should shut down operation in our community for a more willing company to take over for the common good of Uquo Community.
“They should make employment process open as Esit Eket has qualified personalities to fill in the needed opportunities as agreed from the onset. Frontier Oil has been a major cause of the flood menance witnessed in this community. Gutters within the premises have been blocked and the company has not done anything about it. If they are not ready to operate as a oul company, let them fold up and leave our community”. Uquo youth spelled out their demands!
EDO COMMUNITY- FRONTIER OUTLAY FACILITY
Similary, at Edo Community, the youths, who were in their good numbers were seen with various placards carrying inscriptions like: “Frontier Oil must go”, Frontier Oil won’t operate without adherence to local content policy”, “Pay us our Due entitlements”, “Enough is Enough”, also an empty coffin was wrapped in red, white and black clothing, which was used in barricading the entrace of the Company.
The youth also took over the entrance and set up their cooking pots while others were beating local drums round the entrance.
A representative of the youth, Obong Iwaad Harrison Edoho told Hon. Akpanusoh that they were protesting the Company’s noncompliance with with a MoU agreed between Frontier Company and the Community.
He stated that they have severally expressed their concerns to the hierarchy of the company through formal letters without response nor reply from the Company.
THE LAWMAKER’S RESPONSE
Addressing the protesting youths, Esit Eket/Ibeno lawmaker Said; “I am aware that there has been a protest in the last few days and the protest is predicted on the demand of the youths of the Community concerning Frontier Oil and I want to thank you for conducting yourselves in a very peaceful and orderly manner.
“From what we have heard from the Office of the Executive Chairman, your demands are very genuine, and it is my pleasure to inform you that the Chirman of Esit Eket Local Government and Eket Local Government in collaboration with the Local Board of the Director of Frontier, and the DPO of the Local Government Area, the DSS and Mr. Wale who is the representative of Frontier oil, were in a meeting, this protest shall soon come to an end to the satisfaction of all parties”.
SACK THE FIVE ILLEGALLY EMPLOYED STAFF
…..and in that meeting, we have reached elaborate agreement one of which is that the community wants to meet with the management of Frontier Oil and meeting with Frontier Oil the community has enumerated their demands whuch include: the sacking of those 5 workers that were employed secretly and that those people should be relieved of the employment because the MoU is very clear that every employment of staff must be done openly.
“This implicates that; notices should be sent to local government secretariates, the community, Pioneer Newspaper and maybe one National Dailies and Mr. Wale has agreed that as part of the resolution we reached today, those people should be relieved for now until we meet on Tuesday again.
Frontier Oil Company Apologises for Noncomplaince with MoU
“Mr. Wale has also apologised to the community that they have not been adhering to MOU signed between them and the Community. I am here this afternoon to appeal to you to please sustain the protest in a peaceful manner without taking laws into your hands or create room for hoodlums to hijack the noble protest and course havock in the area” He appealed.
“Let me also inform us that Local Government Chairmen of Eket and Esit Eket and elders are on top of the issue. You know Frontier Oil has to do with Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas, they are on top of the situation and they have also agreed for the meeting to hold on Tuesday, 25th June, 2019 in the office of Esit Eket Local Government Chairman. We are going to be there and the meeting will have a representative of all stakeholders, it will be resolved in the best interest of the community and Frontier oil as a company”. Hon. Akpanusoh assured!
EBEKPI, EBOK ASAK COMMUNITY COCKED OIL WELL THREE
The case was not different at Ebekpi, Ebok Corked Oil Well three.
The representative of the youth expressed dissatisfaction by the gross insensitivity of Frontier Oil Company and queried why a company can renege on honouring laid down agreement and its social responisibility to its host community.
He listed incessant harassment and molestation of women in the area by security agents of Frontier, lack of electricity in the community for the past five years, non replacement of Ebekpi indigenes under skilled and semi skilled categories of manpower in the company, non paymemt of entitlements among other things as the motive behind the protest and subsequent blocked.
“Since Frontier Oil came to our community in 2007, we have endured them in all circumstances but yet we have realised that our lenieancy has been taken for granted.
So, it is high time we rise and fight for the right of our community and that led us to this peaceful demonstration.
” Also, Since frontier had the right of way, they have not paid our community the agreed loyalty, we have wrote several letters to the company without and reply nor response from them.
Secondly, the only son of Ebekpi that was working as a staff with Frontier Oil, Mr. Victor Thomas resigned as a result of poor payment until now they haven’t paid him off and lots of other issues.
“Sir, we want to use this opportunity and solicit on you to on behalf of us, urge Frontier Oil to relaese our rights to us or else vacate our community. For the past five (5)years, we don’t know what is called electricity, we have been in total blackout these years and this is affecting lives and economic activities in our community.
“The only access road to farmlands in the community, Frontier security agents are molesting our women young girls and youths of our community deterring them from accessing their farms. Sir to say the least, Frontier is inflictng untold hardship on the people of Ebekpi, farmers sneaked into their farmlands as early as six am and will have to remain in the bush till 7pm even with that, security agents of Frontier will still harrass, molest and pursue them back into the farm with the directive of Frontier Oil, we are tired, we are demanding for our rights”.The youth leader lamented!
RT. HON. USORO AKPANUSOH RESPONSE
He commended the youths for coming out to speak in unison for the common interest of the community and observed that issues raised by the the youth leader has always been in contention between the community and Frontier Oil for over ten (10) years now.
“Its a beautiful thing for the community coming together and speak in one voice for the general good the community. I am aware that Frontier Oil has been here for over 10years, some of the issues raised today has always been raised by the Community all the time”.
He appreciated them for demanding for the common good of the people in a peaceful way without breaking law and order and assured using his good offices to bring a lasting solution to the dire needs of then people.
“I want to appreciate the fact that even when you are demanding for your right, you are doing it very peacefully and I want you to maintian the status.
“I am pleased that the Local Government Chairman has started discussing some of the problems mentioned here, like the issue of light, I think that is between the community and local government to see how Frontier Oil can also give their support, but I am aware the Local Government Chairman is on top of the situation. Secondly, let me advise that the issue of compensation form part of the discussion when we are meeting again on Thursday.” He directed!
HON AKPANUSOH: “THE SINS OF FRONTIER OIl ARE SO MANY”
“Uquo has a cocked Oil Well, CPS which is in Edo has a blocked there, the entire Esit Eket Local Government including the immediate host community Ebekpi has another cocked Oil well and I’m also suprise that the people of Ebekpi is also mounting a blocked, so that means that the sins of Frontier Oil Company are so many and uncountable”. Hon. Akpanusoh remarked hilariously!
Holistically, Hon. Akpanusoh condemned in strong terms the inhumane harrassment and molestation of Esit Eket women by security agents of Frontier Oil Company and called on relevant security stakeholders in the area to call their men to order as he promised presenting the matter on the floor of the House under matter of urgent public importance in the next plenary session of the House, being today Tuesday, June 25th, 2019.
“I am using this opportunity to call on the GOC, the Commander of the Army in Akwa Ibom State; that the security officers hired by Frontier Oil which is Military Officers should stop molesting and harrassing Ebekpi women, girls and youth who are using the Frontiers access road to their farmlands and the community has stated the heights of intimidation from the security men such that the affected persons desert their farmlands and when even when they succeeded in sneaking into their farms, they find it difficult to return home.
“I want to bring this information to the notice of Local Government Chairmen of Esit Eket and Eket Local Government Areas that they should immediately rise to the occasion to the fact that the head of Military formation in the affected areas should be informed on the fact that these women are under serious molestation, harassment, intimidation and violation of right, this is what the community has reported.” He admonised!