Citing alleged irregularities, indigenes of Emu-Ebendo and Emu-Iyasele communities in Ndokwa West Local Council of Delta State have rejected the environmental impact assessment report (EIA) reportedly conducted by Omas Pillar Astex Company Limited for a modular refinery in their area.
The rejection came amid an age-long dispute over the ownership of the Okolori/Ugonefe /Okpotume land involving the communities and their Umuseti-Ogbe neighbours of Kwale. As a matter of fact, a suit in this respect, comprising Ogu Odili and three others from Umuseti-Ogbe versus Sunday Omoghene and nine others, all of Emu-Ebendo and the company, is pending at the Kwale High Court.
A statement by the President General, Emu-Ebendo community, Friday Osobene, and Chairman, Community Development Association of Emu-Iyesere community, Jonathan Onotor, described the document as ‘unholy and unrealistic’.
The Emu-Ebendo and Emu-Iyesele settlements contended that as owners of the land in question, the contracting firm must acquire the land from them and pay compensation for all that were allegedly destroyed rather than resorting to intimidation through brute force from soldiers to harass them.
The communities claimed that they had written severally to the Ministry of Oil and Gas in Asaba and Pillar Oil Nigeria Limited over the matter, adding that the parties had also held meetings with the state government and relevant agencies.
They stressed that the EIA was conducted without their inputs, describing the entire exercise as a ruse.
The indigenes said that they had allegedly contended with health hazards arising from the activities and operations of the company. The communities, therefore, appealed to the state government to come to their aid in the interest of justice and peace.
The people also called on the Federal Ministry of Environment to prevail on Omas Pillar Astex Company not to stir a needless communal strife in their localities.
But in a swift reaction, officials of the firm, who did not want their names in the print, denied the allegations, saying efforts were ongoing to ensure peaceful co-existence among the communities and workers of the company.