As the controversies on the merger of the communities in the oil-producing areas of Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State rage, the people of Ilaje Constituency II comprising of Mahin, Aheri and Etikan, yesterday told the oil giant operating in the area, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) to disregard the threat by the people of the Ugbo axis of the coastal area to disrupt the operations in the area.
The call was contained in a statement issued by the Mahin-Aheri-Etikan (Ilaje) Youth Congress signed by the Chairman, Nelson Ololajulo and then Secretary, Babalola Solomon, describing the threat as a fairy tale because the company had not done anything wrong.
While condemning the protest embarked upon by some youths of Ugbo axis on the proposed merger plan, the people charged the state government and security agencies working the area to guide against breakdown of law in the communities.
Apart from this, the people also urged the state government not to succumb to the alleged threats and blackmail of the some people in the area over the merger processes, saying the move should be pursued to a logical conclusion.
Describing the protest as regrettable and uncalled for, the congress noted that what CNL Chevron had demanded was for administrative convenience of the area.
They noted that the sponsors of the protests were people that had fraudulently benefited from exploration activities in the area to the detriment of the larger society.
They said the antagonists of the merger plan that those behind the protest were a local cabal that wanted to prevent accountability for the funds that had been remitted by the oil company for the development of the oil producing areas of the state.
It said the antagonists took the decision because “of our place and position as a people accounting for the larger population and territory of Ilaje without whose territory there is no access to Ugbo land and whose land is used for reclamation and sand filing for the infrastructural development of the whole of Ugbo kingdom.
“We shall in the interest of Ilaje common kindred spirit, treat the empty sound and fury of threats as the usual tale. In the interest of security and peaceful co-existence of all our people and smooth business operations in Ilaje land, we only wish to enjoin all our leaders across Ilaje land, the Ondo state government, security agencies to warn those behind these careless utterances and behaviour to desist.
“As oil producing people, we are keenly watching Chevron, the Ondo State Government and its agencies in their treatment of all parties and strongly advise them against succumbing to the empty threats and blackmail by any group of Ilaje and be fair to all as otherwise, we know what to do.
“In specific terms, we insist as minimum demands, that all payments due to Ilaje from the offshore operations be paid into an escrow account, all forms of empowerment benefits and contracts be evenly distributed across the entire coastline of Ilaje and the merger process concluded without further delay,” they stated.