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Market Digest Nigeria

Economy

Communities in Rivers state reject oil block divestment

Host communities of Oil Mining Lease in Rivers State have kicked against the alleged plan by Shell Petroleum Development Company to divest the oil block, threatening to disrupt oil and gas operations in the area.

Some representatives of the host communities across four local government areas handed down the threat while speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on Saturday.

Speaking, one of the community leaders and a member of the media team of the host community, Loveday Okere, said any divestment without the input of the host communities would be an effort in futility.

According to Okere, “That foundational error that our people made in early 60’s cannot repeat itself, because the news of divestment of OML-17 is a surprise to us that at this point in time SPDC and federal government want to carry it out without falling back to the communities that are the landlords of this oil and gas field, comprising from Ikwere, Obio/Akpor, Etche and Oyigbo lgas.

“So, I think it is an intentional act to keep impoverishing the host communities,” he stated. Similarly, the head, legal of the host communities, Paul Nwankwola said it is illegal for the federal government to unilaterally grant lease for any divestment.

“A divestment extinguishes existing interest and rights. Once existing interest and rights are extinguished, that is to say a vacuum has been created over OML-17. Under the relevant laws of Nigeria, the federal government has no authority to single-handedly grant lease in the manner and form in which the government wants to do it,” he explained.

Efforts by newsmen to reach the media relations manager of Shell, Bamidele Odugbesan, for a reaction was unsuccessful as his mobile phone was not reachable as of the time of filing this report.

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