A group of landlords in the swamp areas which play host to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) has petitioned Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, over alleged lopsided appointments and marginalization being carried out by the firm, threatening to shut down its operations.
The group, through its leaders, Onisoya Odum told reporters in Port Harcourt that the activities of Agip was detrimental to the host communities, and appealed to Wike to set up a panel of inquiry to ascertain the alleged marginalization against them.
Odum said that key positions in the company were given to non-indigenes, even when they don’t have the requisite qualifications, saying the situation was tantamount to “ethnic cleansing.”
He also alleged that: “The millions of dollars being siphoned through huge operational contracts under this scheme might be used in sponsoring the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the Niger Delta states particularly, Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states where the company predominantly has its operations.”
He said about 23 indigenes of Rivers and Bayelsa States in high positions in the company were either sacked or relegated and replaced by people outside their host communities, who “now call the shots in the administrative and sensitive departments of the company to the detriment of the region.”
He threatened that except the alleged ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the company stops and the indigenous people, particularly from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states are immediately reinstated, they (landlords) will not hesitate to occupy all the operational bases of the oil and gas company.
“We will not fail to mobilize ourselves to shut down NAOC operations if our voice is not heard,” he said, adding : “The Nigerian government to realize that it is facing another turn of recession and the situation would be worse if any of the oil companies stops remitting royalty to the government when its operation is stopped.”
Efforts to reach the Community Relations Manager of NAOC), Denis Maxi to react to the allegation was unsuccessful.