Soldiers arrest community leader for allegedly shutting down 11 oil wells

Posted by News Express | 21 March 2017 | 1,973 times

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•Marine troops on duty in Niger Delta creeks.

Mr Chikeobi Alali, a community leader in Ogba Ndoni Egbema Local Government Area of Rivers, has been arrested for allegedly disrupting production at an oilfield operated by Agip.

Mrs Ngozi Alali, Chikeobi’s wife, said on Tuesday that her husband was arrested by the Joint Task Force (JTF) “Operation Delta Safe” on Saturday.

Her words: “My husband was arrested by soldiers and taken away and when we traced them to the heaquarters in Yenagoa, the soldiers feigned ignorance of his arrest.

“We kept pestering them until they admitted that he is in their custody but they denied me access to him.

“Efforts by his family and lawyer to secure his bail has been fruitless; we were told on Monday to write a letter to the Commander of JTF to allow us to see him; we wrote the letter and we were told that the commander was not around.

“My husband is the Chairman of the local government oil and gas landlords association, he was arrested with the secretary and one other person, the two others arrested along him have since been released.

Mrs Chikeobi explained that the problem they have with the oil company borders on failure to review an expired Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“And the last meeting they held last year, they gave a deadline of November 2016 and all the parties agreed that if after November 2016, the agreement is not reviewed, the community would shut down the oil wells; that was why they arrested him,” she said.

Spokesman of joint military force deployed in the Niger Delta region, Maj. Abdulahi Abubakar, confirmed that 11 oil wells belonging to Agip were shut down by the host community.

The spokesman said that it was wrong for the community to take laws into their hands and noted that efforts were underway to resolve the crisis as officials of the oil firm had visited the suspect.

He said that troops deployed in the area had reinforced security around the oil field and reopened the facilities for operations, adding the military will not tolerate interference with oil facilities.

Meanwhile, Mr Pat Obiene, a Social Activist in a reaction called for the immediate release of the community leader as his detention had led to a protest at Agip’s office in Port Harcourt on Monday.

“From available records Agip reneged on an arrangement to close out the MoU in November 2016 and we are already in March 2017 and the only reasonable thing to do is to detain the community leader?

“This is counter-productive and not in line with the peace initiative of the federal government, the military should change their attitude and promote dialogue and consensus which the Vice President preached during his recent tour to the region,” Obiene said.

Officials of Agip declined comments on the development.


Source: News Express

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