The Nigeria Army 222 battalion, Agbaro-Otor unit command on Monday brutalised Oleh women numbering over fifty in Isoko South local government area of Delta State, protesting what they called marginalization and neglect by an oil company, Heritage Energy Operational Limited, operating in the area.
The placard carrying protesting women with various inscriptions such as “Heritage give our men contracts and employ our children, Heritage stop marginalising and neglecting us, Give our children job” among others, chanting war songs were severely beaten by the army on arrival at the Olomoro/Oleh flow station calling for the immediate stoppage of working.
Speaking during the protest, Mrs. Ewoma Ochewru said, while they were on the peaceful protest, the Nigeria Army 222 battalion from Agbaro-Otor unit command came and brutalized “Us with four of our women sustaining various degrees of injury while our women leader Chief Mrs. Igbevia Erube was forcefully thrown into the army hilux van and taken to unknown destination. Our placards, chairs and canopy we brought were destroyed by the army and blocked the road leading to the company’s gate.”
The protesting women said oil companies operating in Oleh had time without number refused to employ indigenous graduates of the area and continuously employing non indigenes to the disadvantage of parents that sent their children to school.
“It is painful to see oil companies operating daily with thousands of barrels of oil carried away from the area and the people continue to wallow in abject poverty”, one of the women said.
According to Mrs. Ochewru, the under development and marginalization of the Oleh community by the oil companies have become unbearable adding that the information before them has it that Heritage Energy Operational Limited, manager of the OML30 oil block comprising 111 communities in the board of Isoko and Urhobo cluster group, Oleh, Olomoro and Emede sharing ownership of Olomoro/Oleh flow station will soon hand over to another yet to be identified oil company.
Mrs. Ochewru, maintained that, until the women leader is returned back, they will remain at the the premises of the Olomoro/Oleh flow station, adding that information over the army brutality has been sent to the kingdom’s monarch, HRM Anthony William O. Ovrawah Omogha 1, the Odiologbo of Oleh kingdom and the kingdom’s chairman, Obaro Ekokobe.
Speaking on the issue, Mr. Ekokobe, vehemently condemned the army brutality on the protesting women, noting that since 2013, Oleh community had agreement with the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and government representatives during a protest, but none of the points of agreement reached were fulfilled by successive companies working in the area.
“I heard the women were protesting because Heritage Energy Operational Limited that took over from NPDC since 22nd of March 2017 with promises of developing the area, is about handing over to another company not known to Oleh community”, noting that the women became more grieved when none of Oleh indigenes were considered for employment and alleged that one A.A.P. Works, a nongovernmental organization is coming to take over from Heritage Energy Operational Limited without consultation with the host’s communities.
According to the the community chairman, the women heard of ongoing employment into various positions, but none of the indigenes is considered, stressing that indigenous contractors are also deprived slots by the oil company, positing that dialogue should be the best option for solution and not intimidation and arrest of women protesting peacefully.
Confirming the development, the kingdom’s monarch HRM Anthony William O. Ovrawah Omogha 1, the Odiologbo of Oleh kingdom, said the women were aggrieved due to marginalization of oil companies operating in the area. The monarch however condemned the arrest of the women leader and the impoverished condition of the people due to the activities of oil exploration in Oleh community.
All efforts by HardReporters correspondent, to reach Heritage Energy Operational were unsuccessful.