Communities in Delta state hosting the facilities of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) have given Nigerian soldiers 72 hours to produce Chevron staff in their custody while dismissing claims by the military that the five persons arrested over the weekend were militants bombing oil and gas facilities in the area.
The communities claimed that contrary to the reports, the five alleged militants were actually contract workers for the American oil giants, inspecting earlier bombed pipelines ahead of the visit of the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) team to inspect the extent of damage when the military troops swooped on them.
The communities stated that the workers were with their identification cards and were ferried to the site in Chevron’s boat, adding that their explanations that they were sent for inspection fell on deaf ears as they were taken to the military base at Koko and locked up.
To this end, the communities have given Chevron 72 hours to Chevron to effects the release of the said oil workers; else they would withdraw all the surveillance workers, among other workers working for oil firms in the area as their safety were no longer guaranteed.
The host communities accused Chevron of paying lip service to arrest of the five community workers, saying that the military was harassing and intimidating community oil workers as Chevron has failed to come to their aid.
Speaking on behalf Oil producing Communities,the Chairman of Kokodiagbene, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, who spoke on behalf of the oil producing communities in the area, expressed dismay over nonchalant attitude of the management of Chevron over the arrest of the alleged five workers branded Avengers.
He said: ‘’It is pertinent to state that we are no longer safe in the hands of security agents going by the constant harassment of our people. We have handed a 72-hour ultimatum to Chevron to ensure the release of those arrested oil workers and if they fail to do this, we will withdraw all our services from all the oil companies including, Shell, Chevron, NPDC and Neconde.
‘’We are not Niger Delta Avengers. We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria and those workers were doing their legitimate work when the JTF pounced on them and arrested them, thereafter proclaiming to the world that they have arrested Avengers. They should adopt more of intelligence in doing their work otherwise they would end up killing innocent people in the communities