Scores of women from Mmahu autonomous community in Ohaji Egbema council area of Imo State picketed an Indian oil firm, Sterling Global Oil Company, for refusing to pay for the burial of three members of the community killed by its staff.
Three persons were crushed by the security van of the company driven by some military personnel escorting a tanker loaded with crude oil out of the village on Saturday March 8, 2020.
While two persons died immediately, the third person, a woman, died at the hospital.
Governor Hope Uzodinma brokered agreement between the community and the company with Sterling Global reportedly agreeing to pay the families of the deceased the sum of N20m for burial.
Two months down the line, the company reneged on its promise, a development that caused women of the community to besiege the company on Monday, vowing to stop the firm from operating in the community until the burial rites were fully paid.
Speaking on behalf of the women, Ezinne Abigail Chimaokwu, said the community were not happy about the gruesome killing of three of their children by personnel of the oil firm.
The women expressed disappointment over the manner the company was handling the situation, saying the entire community would fight to ensure the oil firm no longer used the routes for transporting its crude oil.
Chimaokwu maintained that the women decided to shut the company and block the roads for the burial rites to be paid, insisting that they would not leave the place until their demands were met.
She said, "These trucks with armed security men killed our sons and daughter and also refused to pay the death rites of N20m as agreed with the governor of the state who have appealed to us to accept the little token and bury the deceased.
“We cannot bury the deceased persons because of the traditional demands which must be perfected to enable them commence their burial process else they won’t be lowered to the great beyond.”
Addressing the women, the army commander in charge of the area, M.S. Akabi, expressed surprise that the company had not paid the death rites.
Akabi assured the women of security if they conducted their protest without destruction of property.