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Oil-Rich Bayelsa Community Residents Protest Alleged Neglect, Intimidation By Conoil Company Amid Environmental Degradation

June 4, 2023

The company was also accused of complicity in the military killing of a youth in the area.

Aggrieved indigenes of Sangana kingdom in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State at the weekend staged a protest against the Conoil multinational company over its alleged inability to perform their corporate social responsibility.

The company was also accused of complicity in the military killing of a youth in the area.



The angry elders, youths and women, who were dressed in black, displayed placards with inscriptions, "We are tired of Conoil oppression, stop killing us,” “Stop the shooting, stop the killing,” “Why kill an innocent youth, Ikiowori Benson is dead,” and “Why now, 25 years of operation in Sangana and nothing to amount for”.

The protest comes days after an indigene of the community was reportedly shot dead by military security agents attached to the oil facility. Several persons were reportedly injured and two others were declared missing.


Speaking with newsmen, the immediate past IYC Chairman, Sangana clan, Otonbara Sigimo, said they were all out to express their anger over the alleged ill-treatment by Conoil multi-national company, adding that the negligence by the company can't be overlooked anymore.


He stated that several years after the signing of a series of MoUs, the owner and management of Conoil has failed to abide by any provisions agreed upon.


He said, "We are not happy and we have endured for so long, few days ago we went on a peaceful protest and the result was the shooting of our brother. What was his sin, or what is our sin? We just went to have a peaceful discussion but rather they brought military men to kill us. They must leave our territory because they don't mean well.”


The Youth President of Sangana community, Ayah Ambrose, said the community residents had not been benefitting from the company.


Also speaking, the Chairman, IYC Central Zone, Clever Inodu, who expressed solidarity with the protesting Sangana indigenes, condemned the alleged use of the military by the oil company against the aggrieved indigenes, saying, "The act is equivalent to a military invasion in our region and it is unacceptable. We have been engaging the security agencies in the state whose responsibility is to protect the people and not kill them but the reverse has always been the case.


"If the people are coming to protest for their legitimate right, what they should do is protect them and ensure it is a peaceful demonstration with their support. The people were there to just register their displeasure because they were angry.


“You are in a place exploring their land with nothing to show for it, is that not wickedness? And when the people want to tell you their position, the company uses the military against them. This negligence from oil companies within our territories has to stop.


“We have resolved to follow this matter to the letter. Within the next 48 hours, Conoil must come and discuss or they leave Sangana. We will mobilise the people to the platform for another peaceful protest.”


The Amanayabo of Moko Ama Sangana Kingdom, HRH Moses Kenibara, expressed anger that the community had hosted Conoil for over 25 years with nothing to show for it.


He said, "They have rather impoverished the community. Before they started operation, there was no impact assessment of the area. The community has been talking to them but they blatantly refused. They write MOUs with the community but never implemented them. This is not acceptable because it isn't the standard of operation and we are aggrieved.


“Enough of the oppression, intimidation, and ill-treatment from this company. They renege on their own part of the agreements and still kill innocent people in the community, and some are missing while some are still critically injured in the hospital. We demand that Conoil multinationals company should come and address all outstanding issues amicably or vacate our land.


“The area is our fishing settlement and we want to continue with our trade. Since they came out, the community has been depleted, and impoverished. No single contractor from Sangana, no employment for the community. Enough is enough.”


The spokesperson for INC, Barr. Barry Ibarakumo, said, "What just happened is unacceptable and we condemn it in its entirety. The relevant authorities should swing into action because our youths have given an ultimatum and it must be honoured.

“We have fought very hard to keep peace in our community and we won’t fold our hands to see Conoil disrupt the peace. The matter must be addressed within this time.”