About 4,000 protesting Ugborodo community indigenes on Sunday held a non-denominational church service at the front of Chevron Tank Farm in Escravos, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, where they have been protesting for days.
The PUNCH gathered that the protesters, who have been laying a siege to Chevron Tank Farm since Tuesday last week over the non-recognition of Ugborodo Interim Management Committee by oil firms operating in the area, sang and preached during the service.
It was gathered that one of the protesters took the role of a pastor while some others performed as choir as they were robed in various churches’ uniforms.
Meanwhile, some leaders of the community are also expected to hold a peace meeting with the state government, the Department of State Services and the Police towards resolving the issues that led to the protest.
Scores of protesters, who were contacted by our correspondent, said prayers were offered for the development of the community, resolution of the prevailing situation in the Niger Delta and the nation’s ailing economy.
Accordingly, the community leaders have listed some demands to be meant before the ongoing protest could be called off at the end of the day.
A prominent Niger Delta leader and former chairman of Ugborodo Community Trust, Pa Sandys Omadeli-Uvwoh, said the two key issues the protesters wanted were for the truce forces to prevail on Chevron and the oil companies in the area to recognise the Interim Management Committee, led by Emma Meke.
Omadeli-Uvwoh, who addressed a press conference on Sunday in Warri, said, “The people did say they won’t want any truce meeting outside Chevron or Ugborodo boundaries, but we can express faith in the Police and the DSS. We can’t say the same about the Delta State government that is bent on denying our right to choose our community leaders. We will be in Asaba.
“The people expect the police, the DSS or any party coming to the table to prevail on Chevron to recognise and relate with the IMC put in place in dealing with Ugborodo. The other expectation is that our folks working here in Chevron must not be victimised over this protest at the end of the day.”
He said further, “After these resolutions, which must be documented, knowing how officious Chevron can be, we the Ugborodo people will now take a tour of Eket, host to Mobil in Akwa Ibom; Bonny, host to NLNG in Rivers; and neighbouring Ogulagha, host to Shell Forcados Terminal.
“We share the same status as major host community, like these communities mentioned. We have observed that they share a mutually beneficial relationship with the oil majors they host. For us in Ugborodo, it has been a different story, of neglect, divide and rule and underdevelopment.”