Fourteen suspected vandals have been arrested by security agents, while trying to sabotage facilities at a Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) flow station, operated by Saipem Nigeria Limited IB Ogbotobor community, Ekeremor council area of Bayelsa state.
Disclosing this to journalists in Warri Tuesday, Chairman of Egbema Cluster Development (ECD), Richard Ziware, said the culprits were arrested on the spot where they were trying to sabotage the facility, adding that their suspected ring-lead was not arrested.
The Nation, however learnt from other sources that the arrested persons were members of a faction in Ogbotobor’s leadership tussle and that the arrested youths might have embarked on the illegal business in protest of alleged bias by the operators company in the community feud.
Relating the development to journalists Tuesday, Ziware said “some miscreants went to the Saipem Flow Station, owned by Shell, with intent to vandalise facilities and in the process they were cornered and arrested by JTF operatives in the area.
“Why would the miscreants decide to take laws into their hands in a matter that is before the Bayelsa State High Court, which had advised parties to wait for final court decision? The community leadership tussle is not enough for anybody to invade oil facilities.
“They were arrested right there at the station. But the factional leader who led the youths to the station was not arrested. He is not the chairman of the community but want to force himself on the oil company to recognize him as chairman”, he said.
A member of staff of the company who spoke under strict condition of anonymity added, “they don’t have any problem with the community as employment and contract opportunities have been given to the community in line with signed FCO. They forcefully stopped operations in the station hence we called the attention of the security who apprehended them.”
However, an indigene of the community stated that the youths including the chairman of Agbayama community were protesting the deprivation of employment changes of 109 and 18 sub-contracts made for the communities in a Freedom To Operate agreement between the host communities and SPDC.
The source asserted: “The agreement between the communities and SPDC covers the AGG Project of one Saipem Construction Company.
“Since 2014, SPDC has refused to employ persons from the host communities as agreed.
“The communities have reported the case to the relevant government offices and the Governor through the Office of the Special Adviser to The Governor oil and gas and they have all advised SPDC to follow as agreed also SPDC pointed two individuals that they only obey the directives of the two individuals which led the chairman to go and stop the operation.
Confirming the arrest of the youths to Vanguard, spokesperson for the Operation Safe Delta, Lt. Col. Olaolu Dauda said: “The youths weren’t arrested in their houses, they were arrested while attempting to invade the flow station and this goes against our mandate as security operatives in the area which is to protect oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta region.
“If they (arrested youths) have grievances with the oil companies, they should channel their grievances appropriately to the right authorities rather than taking laws into their hands.”