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THURSDAY, 25 APRIL 2013 00:00 FROM TERHEMBA DAKA, ABUJA NEWS - NATIONAL
INCENSED by what they considered a monumental fraud involving N58.9 trillion, representatives of five oil-producing communities of Delta State Thursday besieged the major gate leading to the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
The Delta State indigenes, who were protesting against alleged exclusion of the host communities from the sale of the Oil Mining Leases (OML), submitted a petition to the lawmakers. They alleged that the bidding for the OML was shrouded in secrecy.
“By this deal, 60 per cent of NPDC’s 55 per cent stake of these assets is about five billion barrels, which when calculated with the 2013 crude oil benchmark, comes to $380 billion or N58.9 trillion. This figure is exclusive of the 4 Trillion Cubic Feet (4 TCF) of gas asset in the blocks valued at $15.72 trillion “, they said.
For six hours, the over 300 youths, including women who stormed Abuja in chartered buses late Wednesday, mounted a blockade yesterday and prevented vehicular movement to the National Assembly complex.
The development, which left the police and other security operatives in utter helplessness, also compelled parliamentary workers as well as visitors to trek the distance from the National arcade located in the Three Arms Zone to the National Assembly complex.
But a quick intervention by the leadership of the National Assembly prevented the protest from degenerating into a crisis as the Senate President, David Mark, as well as the Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, sued for calm and assured that the relevant committees of the parliament would liaise with other stakeholders within 30 days during which a solution to their grievances would be arrived at.
The Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Abdul Ningi who received the petition on behalf of the Senate President, specifically assured that the two chambers of the parliament would urgently intervene in the matter for the benefit of the host communities.
“The issue of host communities is critical to the parliament and the two chambers will within 30 days look at the petition and ensure that justice is done on the matter,” he said.
House Chief Whip, Isiaka Bawa, who received a copy of the petition along with Deputy Leader of the House, Leo Ogor on behalf of the Speaker, also assured that both chambers of the National Assembly would address the issues in line with legislative procedures.
The leader of the group made up of Itsekiri, Ijaw, Urhobo, Isoko and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities, Chief Emami Ayirimi, alleged that two days before President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2011 so as to reconstitute it for his new mandate, officials of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), of which the Petroleum Minister is Chairman, secretly transferred production rights in four large oil blocks, OMLs 26, 30, 34 and 42, to a company which neither tendered nor bid for the blocks.
He urged the parliament to specifically put on hold the handover of OMLS 4, 26, 30, 34, 38, 41 and 42 to the company and another one pending the determination of the issues raised in the petition.
Ayirimi also urged the House to order a cancellation of all the awards on OML 4, 26, 30, 34, 38, 41, and 42 and right of first refusal to be given to the qualified indigenes of the local communities to buy into them.
“Why was the entire process organised in such a calculated manner as to completely exclude the interest of the host communities by ensuring that no indigenous company from the host communities benefited from the award?” he queried.
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