Ukpana Community in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, on Wednesday, blocked an oil firm, Natural Oilfield Services Limited, NOSL, operating in their area with the claims that its activities have destroyed their environment, economic trees, water bodies and traditional shrines.

They mentioned the creeks, streams and swamps bulldozed and sand filled to include Idim Mkpighe, Idim Uton, Etuk Enyang and a host of others while Ancestral shrines destroyed include Nkuku, Ikot Inwang, Ikpaisong Ubop Owo and others.

NOSL, which has a joint management team with the Nigeria National Petroleum Exploration and Production Limited, is an operator of OML 13 in Oniong Clan, Onna LGA and engages in oil and gas appraisal as well as well drilling.

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The protesters, who were men and women, nursing mothers and youths, placed a traditional injunction, demanding the stoppage of the operation of the company until their demands were met.

In their placards, the protesters expressed anger over the alleged nonchalant attitudes of the management of the company, which they alleged have continued to pay deaf ears to their plights.

Some of the placards read ” NOSL has trespassed into our land without consulting us” ” You have destroyed our means of livelihood” “We have been made to suffer unduly in our own land” among others.

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The village head of Ukpana, Chief Ranzi Bassey, who spoke with journalists after the protest lamented the massive destruction of their crops and economic trees, destruction of buildings and structures, noise pollution and others which warranted the village council to notify NOSL through their community Attorney–AIbom Oil Producing Community Development Network, AKIPCON, to no avail.

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He said, “Ukpana people have been taken for granted since November 2019 when NOSL forcefully entered and cleared larger hectares of their farmlands, destroyed our houses, economic trees, food crops, building and structures, ancestral shrines /deities, fishing framing, streams, swamps, earth graves and tombstones with attendants health and human rights consequences”.

Chief Bassey said a lot of creeks, streams and swamps have been seriously bulldozed and sand-filled without the consent of villagers.

Also speaking, one of the protesters who identified himself as Joseph Israel lamented the economic hardship and insecurity posed on the youth of the community who have no alternative means of livelihood following the destruction inflicted on them by NOSL.

According to him ” the community has suffered untold hardship, unwanted trespass and destruction through oil exploration activities going on in the area. The massive destruction occurred during the construction of an access road to the appraisal well drilling site at the company’s operational base.”

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