9 June 2010

Nigeria: Oil Spill - Host Community Declines to Participate in Talks

Ibeno community, host to Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) has declined to participate in a meeting with the oil firm to resolve the face off sparked off by frequent oil spills from the Qua Iboe oil fields.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of the community stayed away from the meeting to press home their demand for payment of cash compensation rather than projects proposed by the oil firm.

However, representatives of Eket, Esit Eket and Onna local government areas attended the meeting which was held behind closed doors at Eden Hotels Eket on Wednesday with officials of Mobil.

NAN recalled that Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom had earlier convened a meeting between the four neighbouring communities affected by the oil spill that occurred on May 1, 2010, after a protest by youths in the community.

The meeting resolved that each council area should raise a committee to meet with the oil firm to agree on acceptable projects to be funded by the oil company.

Giving the reasons for not attending the meeting, Obong Ukot Esenem Ukot, Village Head of Atia community in Ibeno LGA, expressed regret that rather than resolve the main cause of frequent oil spills, Mobil chose to deliberate on community development projects.

"Ibeno shall have nothing to do with any of such meetings calculated to waste valuable time; our position remains that compensation for damages and losses incurred by fishermen and the community is not negotiable.

"Development project is their social responsibility, and has nothing to do with the damages they did to our environment; they are not in any way related to each other and cannot be exchanged," Ukot said.

Mobil's Qua Iboe terminal building housing the administrative block and crude processing facilities is located in Mkpanak in Ibeno local government. (NAN)

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