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IOCs seek to evade justice through divestment in Nigeria –Group

By Joe Effiong, Uyo

International Oil Companies (IOCs) have been accused of attempts to flee the country in order to escape the consequences of  havocs their operations have wreaked on host communities,  especially in the Niger Delta.

A non-government al organisation, We the People, made the allegation at a press conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.

Its Executive Director, Mr Ken Henshaw, claimed a recent international court judgement which ordered Shell Petroleum Development Company  (SPDC) to pay damages for attendant contamination  and loses to their Nigerian host communities, was one of the reasons the international oil firm sought  to take  flight out of Nigeria.

“After 64-years, the Nigerian crude oil sector is passing through an unprecedented twist in the investment direction of key transnational oil companies. In May 2021, Shell announced that it plans to sell off all its onshore oil assets and go into deep waters as part of moves it describes as ‘divestment’. In April of the following years, Total also announced that it was selling off its onshore and shallow water assets.

“Earlier in 2019, ExxonMobil had made public that it will be putting up for sale its oil and gas field and has since concluded plans to divest to a Nigerian company called Seplat Energy for $1.2 billion. In the same year, news emerged that Chevron was equally selling off several of its oilfields located in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

“While oil companies prefer to describe the places they extract crude oil from as host communities, the reality is that these are ‘occupied’ communities where farmlands, rivers and creeks from where the people traditionally made a living, have been taken over by companies without the free, prior and informed consent of the people. At no time in the history of oil extraction were the indigenous people of the area consulted. From the very start, oil extraction operated as a deadly mix of corporate profiteering and military repression.”

The group demanded   the Federal Government placess a moratorium on all oil company divestment in the Niger Delta, pending the ascertaining of issues of community concern.

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