By Eseoghene Emuke
A Flow Station operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Batan has been reportedly shut down by protesting members of Diebiri community in Warri South West Council Area of Delta State.
The Flow Station was shut down on Friday over alleged marginalisation by the Delta State Government following the appointment of new members of the Delta State Oil Producing Development Commission (DESOPADEC) by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
The aggrieved protesters are demanding that the commissioner slot for Ijaw ethnic nationality on the interventionist (DESOPADEC) be given to them over their contribution to huge oil and gas derived from the state.
The aggrieved protesters, who stormed the Batan Flow Station in their hundreds, demanded that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa reverse the commissioner slot given to another candidate from Gbaramatu Kingdom, saying that that was not the name they submitted.
They vowed that the flow station will remain shut until their commissioner slot in the DESOPADEC is given to them.
The councilor representing Batan community, Frank Pukon, who spoke on behalf of the community said their rights have been trampled on by the state governor,
He said “when DESOPADEC was created we have a rotational policy. Ogulagha has 19%, Gbaramatu has 17%, Egbema has 13, Diebiri has 11%, Idunu has 9%, Kor has 4%.
“The pioneer chairman was from Ogulagha. Okowa amended the board and created additional offices in the board. As a result of this the Executive Director of the board was created which was given to pastor Philip Gbesin. It’s a clear fact that the next commissioner of the board should come from Diebiri and not Gbaramatu.
He said it was surprising that the person that was nominated from the kingdom was replaced with another person from Gbaramatu kingdom, a situation he said would not be accepted by the Diebiri people.
Pukon said unless their candidate’s name which they submitted to the Governor is reinstalled , they will continue to occupy the flow station.
Michael Douglas, the Governing Council Chairman of Diebiri Kingdom said the shutting down of the flow station was to draw the attention of the governor to their plight and to let him know that they are oil producing community and stakeholders in the country.
“The DESOPADEC commissioner slot is out right and until the state government gives us what rightfully belonged to us, we are not going to leave this place,” Douglas said.
Also the youth president of Diebiri community, Godwin Epredi, said “we are not happy with what is going because the DESOPADEC commissioner slot was supposed to be given to Diebiri people. But to our chagrin before we knew it they gave it Gbaramatu people. We will not take this.”
As at the time of filing this report, the flow station has been completely shut down and workers forced to down tools.