Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting
A group, the Forum for Concerned Indigenes of Oil-Producing Communities, has explained how and why the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III, has violated the sacred provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (2021).
In a statement signed by the chairman and secretary, Oritsejolomi Edema and Ezekiel Amorighoye, made available on Tuesday to Stonix News in Warri, Delta State, the group accused the monarch of double standards in the creation of community trust in the implementation of the PIA provisions.
Read details of the alleged malfeasance of the Itsekiri leader:
FORUM OF CONCERNED INDIGENES OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITIES, 82, Warri/Sapele Road, Warri, Delta State.
THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY ACT (PIA) 2021: WHY ROYAL INCITEMENT IN WARRI KINGDOM MUST STOP
SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT IN WARRI KINGDOM.
We have watched with keen interest as the Palace of the Olu of Warri make futile attempts and laboured fruitlessly to justify the illegality of setting up the Iwere Host Community Development Trust, which contravenes and of course, completely negates the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), that was signed into law in 2021.
The Act only made provisions for the establishment of Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) for oil producing communities.
The Iwere Host Community Trust is illegitimate as it is a creation of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III. He also singlehandedly compiled its membership.
After this unwholesome autocracy, the Palace has tried to ram the illegality down the throat of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
This should be validated by the authorities concerned.
The unacceptable charade of the Palace is being resisted by the host communities to the Otumara Oil Fields and Flow Station.
They are demanding that the illegality being perpetrated by the Olu should not be given official recognition by NUPRC.
That instead the host communities, namely Ugborodo, Deghele and Ugboegungun, legitimately demand for the establishment of Otumara Host Community Development Trust and Ikpere Host Community Development Trust, respectively, for a joint implementation of the PIA, with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) and NUPRC as incorporated in the PIA.
The host communities in this regard want NUPRC to strictly adhere to the provisions of the law.
And that NUPRC should act only based on extant laws, which is the PIA and its accompanying regulations.
That anything outside the PIA breaches the ACT.
The Olu Palace is either displaying arrant ignorance or being deliberately mischievous.
They must therefore be guided in their attempt to forage in illegalities. They know what is meant by host community, it is not synonymous with the Itsekiri Ethnic nation.
Perhaps the Palace needs to be educated that the two groups recognised and referred to as settlors, in the Act are the IOC and the host communities, which are expected to meet and bring people together to constitute the Trust.
What the Olu and his Palace have done is the establishment of a Trust that agglomerates the entire Itsekiri nation as one host community, which is fraudulent and of course, usurpes the rights of oil bearing communities.
This was not envisaged nor did it form part of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
It means any Itsekiri Community, that is not a host to oil facilities, can lay claim and be illegally recognised by NUPRC.
A blanket umbrella for the entire Itsekiri ethnic nation. There is more to this than meets the eyes.
The PIA only recognises host communities and not ethnic group, as done in the case of the general board of trustees constituted by the Olu of Warri, code-named Iwere Host Community Development Trust.
This action is absolutely wrong and represents reckless digression from the law.
As an imposition, it denies host communities of their legitimate rights.
The issue in contention is the demand that only host communities should determine their trustees and not the Palace of Olu. The PIA law has nothing to do with any kingdom. The word Iwere infact encompasses every Itsekiri Community of Warri. The PIA does not authorize an ominibus inclusion of communities that are not host to oil facilities of the Federal Government.
Besides, the aforesaid, The Palace is engaged in double standards. It did not interfere in the arrangement between Abigborodo and NPDC. That arrangement was allowed to fly in accordance with the PIA, apparently because some prominent supporters and backers of the Palace are from that area. A clear case of different rules for different folks. Nonetheless, what is a sauce for the goose should have been a sauce for the gander.
In the case of Abigborodo, NPDC did not go to the Palace. Both parties had their agreement signed and sealed independently. Is Abigborodo not part of the Itsekiri kingdom? Why was the proper procedure adopted in the case of that community?
With the preferential treatment given to Abigborodo, it has become very clear that the action of the Palace is purely targeted at some individuals in other host communities, especially in the case of Ugborodo, Deghele and Ugboegungun.
This is the kernel of the argument by those opposed to the illegality of the Palace of the Olu.
It is very sad to note that the Palace has been instigating.and inciting uninformed chiefs and other willing tools of Itsekiri land against some prominent Itsekiri citizens, in the communities of Ugborodo, Deghele and Ugboegungun, who had insisted that the right thing should be done in line with the PIA ( 2021).
The Palace has lately sponsored protests and campaign of calumny, as well as blackmail against these well-meaning Itsekiri personalities, who mean well for their communities and their inhabitants.
The hirelings of the Palace have engaged in reckless propaganda, mudslinging, name calling and character assassination, of persons opposed to the Olu unacceptable and oppressive actions.
In this regard, the conduct of the Palace which borders on impunity, can be explained in simple terms. The Olu of Warri is a product of imposition, his ascension to the throne received protests in good measures. Simply put, the Olu is a product of illegalities in his ascension to the ancient throne.
In this regard, illegality has become a norm, and it is gradually creeping into every cranny of Iwere kingdom. It is the new normal! Hence illegalities are being extended to the PIA.
This has to stop. The Olu and his Chiefs should be desirous of peace in the kingdom.
In conclusion, we make bold to state that the Olu and his retinue of tearful praise singers cannot decide for host communities. His action in the PIA issue is abhorrent and won’t fly. The wrong decision and steps he has taken cannot be final on the matter.
It is the law that is final. The Palace and its occupant are advised to operate within ambits of the law.
Signed for and on behalf of FORUM OF CONCERNED INDIGENES OF OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITIES
ORITSEJOLOMI EDEMA – CHAIRMAN
AMORIGHOYE EZEKIEL- SECRETARY.