YENAGOA/ A Legal practitioner based in Bayelsa State, Barr. Benjamin S. Ogbara, has sent a protest letter to the Chief of Naval Staff over mistreatment and violation of his fundermental human right by men of the Joint Task Force code named Operation Delta Safe in Bayelsa State.
According to Barr. Ogbara, though the incident happened over an disputed oil spill inspection and clean up agreement between the Aghoro 1 community of Ekeremor Local Government Area and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), the conduct of the military personnel under the commend of Rear Admiral A. O. Suleiman was shameful and unprofessional.
Barr. Benjamin S. Ogbara,in the protest letter to the Chief of Naval Staff made available to newsmen in Yenagoa, said the experience in the hands of the men of the Joint Military Task force was terrible and showed alleged complicity in the issue of oil spillage and poor dealings of oil multinationals with host communities.
According to Ogbara, “I had a very terrible experience in the hand of the Commander, Operation Delta Safe , Rear Admiral A.O. Suleiman at their operational headquarters today at Igbogene, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Yesterday evening, I was contacted by members of Aghoro 1 Community in Ekeremo Local Government Area of Bayelsa State to accompany them to attend a meeting with Operation Delta Safe and Shell Petroleum and Development Company”
“. I gratefully agreed to attend the meeting since I am also involved in the team that is assisting them in negotiating for fair deal for them in an oil spill in Trans Ramos pipeline belonging to SPDC which SPDC has admitted liability due to operational failure of their facility. ”
“The Shell Petroleum and Development Company also admitted that the 1114 barrels of oil spilled into the environment and affecting land, rivers , swamps and water bodies of Aghoro 1 community covering an area of 113.03 hectares while the community own licensed surveyor is saying that the spill impacted on 1825 hectares of land in the community. Agreeing on the the exact numbers of he hectares of impact is the impasse between SPDC and the community and National Oil Spill Detection Agency ( NOSDRA) has advised that a joint survey be carried out under their supervision which the community has already written to that effect.”
“However, today when the CDC chairman of the community, Victor Akamu, Hon. Ben Simon, a chief, another member and myself as their legal representative and other members of the community arrived at the venue, we waited for the arrival of the Commander, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral A.O Suleiman. SPDC was represented by Mr Jerry, the Community Interface Coordinator, Mr. Tonye Fatoki , the manager, External Security Relation and others”
“Immediately the Commander , Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral A. O. Suleiman arrived, he did not even allow us to say anything. He commanded us to accept the 113 hectares as stated by SPDC and that we should not say anything at all. I tried to talk but was ordered not to talk. He told the CDC chairman of the community that myself and others are just trying to deceive him ( the CDC chairman) and he should not listen to us and that we want to eat the community money.”
“He further ordered his military men to profile me, the CDC Chairman of the community (Victor Akamu ) and one Hon. Simon Ben.
We were taken to a room where detailed profile of us were taken including our finger impressions and our photographs. We were temporarily held down for almost three hours profiling before we were eventually asked to go.”
“I wanted to ask is it part of Operational Delta Safe to force a community to sign a Joint Investigation and Verification Report?
Shell Petroleum and Development Company should Stop Using Operation Delta Safe to intimidate community for nothing.
They must definitely be accountable for their excesses in an appropriate legal means.