…Occupies Benin City of Sahara Energy
…Threatening to occupy Sahara Energy Office until demands are meant
By Simeon OSAJIE
The people of Kolokolo, Ajoki and Ajamowa communities in Ikpoba-Okhai local government of Edo State have appealed to Mr. Godwin Obaseki, executive governor of Edo State, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin City, security agencies to call Sahara Energy Company to order failure to recognize the duly elected executive of the community, that as host community to Sahara Energy Company, they are entitled to be treated as host communities not impacted, good drinking water, scholarship for their children, proper compensation from the company pipe line and above all the removal of one Festus Odiase as their Public Relations.
The protesters barricaded the Benin City office of Sahara Energy at GRA., Benin City with different inscriptions e.g., “We Should Be Treated As Host Community Not Impacted Community”, “Festus Odiase Must Go, He’s The One Masterminding Evil In Sahara Engineering Company”, “We Need Compensation From Your Pipe Line, Sahara Has Failed Several Times, Festus Odiase Must Go,” “Sahara Company, Kolokolo Community Need Our Children Scholarship,” “Festus Odiase Must Go”, “We Need Our C.L.O. Slot, We Need Permanent Employment”, “No Good Drinking Water In Kolokolo Community, Festus Must Go”.
They further demanded that for peace to reign in the community, Festus Odiase should be remove as the Community Relations, according to them, he has being the one masterminding the evil and crisis between Sahara Energy Company and the good people of Kolokolo, Ajoki and Ajamowa communities in Ikpoba Okhai local government area of Edo State.
Addressing newsmen, an elder of Kolokolo Community, Elder Benson Ayokotie said they are protesting against Sahara Energy Company who have being marginalizing their community from 2017 they took over from Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
According to Elder Benson Ayojotie, “Since 2017 Sahara Energy took oil flowing station in Ozegbe field in our backyard from Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and in the process, NPDC handed over Kolokolo, Ajoki and Ajamowa to Sahara Energy Company as the host communities to the oil field in our backyard.
“Since that time till today, Sahara Energy denied us our entertainment, there is nothing we can write home about Sahara. As I speak to you today, my people are dying of the oil spillage, our occupation is fishing and farming, we can no longer fish, our crops no longer grow, it has be so bad for our communities.
“When NPDC were with us, we do have scholarship, we do have elder’s stipend, we have community homage, and as I speak with you, Sahara Energy has dogged additional three (3) oil well. No single money was paid to Kolokolo community, We don’t know where they are given Kolokolo community money to, so, that is the reason why we are crying to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Edo State, Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin Kingdom and the good people of Edo State because the affected communities are situated in Edo State in Ikpoba Okhai local government area of the state.
“So, that is reason why we cry to the local government, cry to all indigenes of Edo State to join us fight this evil Sahara Energy. The major problem we are facing is the Community Relations, Festus Odiase that was supposed to interface between Sahara Energy and the Communities, he is carrying all the benefits that belong to Kolokolo, Ajoki and Ajamowa communities supposed to Delta State, this is our problem. Odiase said he does not recognized the Enogie of Ologbo, and forget that the Enogie is the paramount ruler of the whole communities in that riverine area of Ikpoba Okha local government area of Edo State.
“We are pleading to Edo State government to call Sahara Energy to order, or else we will be here in their office for three (3) days, and after the three days and nothing seems to be done, we would go to their installation and occupy it until ouer demands are meant. But for this protest, is peaceful, we would not do anything contrary to our aims and objectives, but is just a warning protest.”
Mr. Moses Otikpere is the Leader of Ajamowa Community. He said that the attitude of Sahara Energy towards Ajamowa Community is unbearable.
“We did election some time ago, and the elders of the community introduced the people that have been chosen to lead the community and wrote a letter to Sahara Energy, but Sahara refused to recognize them. We have tried all avenues for Sahara Energy to recognize them, but they refused. As I am talking to you now, our stipend is still with Sahara which they refused to give to the present executive.
“There was time Sahara Energy was to carry diesel to Ajamowa, but they handed it over to the outgone president of Ajamowa. All these things are not what Sahara Energy ought to have done. That is why we said no. We had reported the issues to all concerned authorities in Edo State. There is no other place we need to go since our requested has not be meant other than to come to protest to their office and demands the removal of Festus Odiase as the Community Relations.”
Also speaking to newsmen was Mr. Roland Maye a resident of Kolokolo community. He said, “Today will make it four (4) years plus that we have being on this battle. We started this battle by seizing their batch. We seized their bag and the next reaction we see, Sahara came with four (4) boat loaded with guns and they went away with the batches.
“When we started this struggle, the youth chairman Sunny Etchie that started the journey was killed. Up till date the case is still in the court, the corpse we did not see it, the next thing we hear from Sahara Energy is threat that those criminals that killed our brother, we should go and bring them back to our community before they would listen to us.
“The tenure of the past executive finished, fresh election was conducted, we went to Sahara Energy, and they refused to give us audience, we had written several letters to their headquarters in Lagos and they refused to listen to us.
“So, we are here to tell Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki that we don’t want to take laws into hand, but if at the end of the three days Sahara Energy refused to listen to us, we shall not other option than to go back and occupy Sahara Energy office in our community until our demands are meant.”
Collaborating Roland Maye is the newly elected President of Ajamowa Community Justice Otikpeme.
According to Otikpeme, “Since my executive came on board on the 6th of February, 2023, Sahara Energy refused to have dealings with us, we have written series of letters to see how Sahara can recognize us, Sahara Energy is still working with the old executive whose tenure has since elapsed. We don’t want to take laws into our hands, that is why we are here so that the whole world can see what Sahara Energy is doing to our communities.
“We want the government of Edo State to know what Sahara Energy is doing to our communities, and we want to call the security agencies to call Sahara Energy to order, and after this protest and our demands are not meant, we would go back to our community and occupy Sahara office until our demands are meant.”