Some of the protesters during the peaceful protest in Udu today
WARRI/Nigeria: Massive protest has erupted in Otor-Udu, Headquarters of Udu Local Government Area of Delta State over the creation of the new Burutu Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force with the Ovwian-Aladja Police Division in Udu annexed to the new Burutu Area command from the old Warri Area Command, just as the people have cried out over alleged marginalization in the operation of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation, NPDC, calling for redress on the two issues less all oil facilities in the area are shut down.
The protest which began in the early hour of Tuesday, saw hundreds of youths, women and members of the oil and gas producing host Community from the area led by Comrade Sunday Subi, President, Union of Udu Youths, chanting protest songs over the creation of the new Burutu Area Command, maintaining that the action of the Nigeria Police Service Commission was in bad taste as, according to the protesters, Udu has nothing in common with Burutu, ‘’a riverine settlement with no historical, political and social-cultural tie with Udu’’, they averred in a statement made available to newsmen.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the protesters, the youth President, Comrade Subi declared the position of Udu on the matters, urging the relevant authority to acquiesce to the request of Udu people for a separate Area Command from the new Burutu Area command.
Hear him: ‘’It is our appeal that this un-holy matrimony be jettisoned forthwith by giving Udu its own Area Command Headquarters. In fact with 36 communities, 50% of which are densely populated, Udu is more than qualified for its own Police Area Command Headquarters, or better still join us with either Ughelli or Warri Area Command Headquarters which are both less than 15 minutes’ drive from our Divisional Police Office.
‘’It should be noted that Burutu LGA is non-contiguous with Udu LGA and is about 4 hours away on high sea from Ovwian/Aladja where our present Divisional Police Headquarters is located upland and considering the peculiarities of today’s security challenge this will definitely not make room for effective policing.’’ The Udu people added.
On the NPDC matter, the protesters averred that Udu was due for its own flowstation, an idea that was earlier conceived by NPDC but is allegedly being jettisoned by the company to the dismay of the Udu people.
‘’It is no longer news that Udu is one of the earliest and topmost producer of oil and gas in Nigeria, yet it has little or nothing to show for it other than environmental pollution and devastation, reasons for this long neglect by the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and other oil multi-nationals are not far-fetched and could be traced to the fact that there is no flow station in Udu and as such oil and gas drilled in Udu are piped to Utorogu flow station.
‘’It is worthy of note that Utorogu is jointly owned by Otor-Udu and Iwhrekan, a community in Ughelli South Local Government. Interestingly, Iwhrekan are customary tenant of Owhrode a major town in Udu, hence Iwhrekan is a tenant to Udu. It is therefore highly iniquitous when oil drilled in Udu are piped to Utorogu and not counted as part of Udu quantum but rather counted for Ughelli South, a neighboring Local Government Area to Udu. Unarguably, this is great injustice and it is tantamount to ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’, and a typical scenario of ‘Monkey dey work Baboon dey shop’.
‘’We the youths of this great kingdom make bold to say that we will resist this callous, insensitive and wicked act of NPDC to the latter, if they breach a gentlemanly agreement reached with the kingdom and disparage the fatherly plea of our Royal father in conjunction with the Union of Udu Communities. We the vibrant and hot blooded youth of the Kingdom will not sit down, fold our hands and resign to fate.
‘’On the issue of the new Area Command and NPDC marginalization, we demand that all relevant agencies should act decisively and expeditiously to do the needful within the next 14 days by correcting and reversing this overwhelming injustice, oppression and marginalization meant to enslave and annihilate the Udu people or we will be forced to shut down all oil facilities in Udu’’, they stated in their claims.
Mrs Flourence Jigbale, who spoke on behalf of the women, maintained that Udu has no business with Burutu because of the unsafe waterway, stressing that with the Aladja/Ogbe-Ijaw crisis still raging, Udu cannot feel safe with the new Area command in the High sea.
At the Udu Local Government Council Headquarters, Chairman of Udu Council Area, Chief Jite Brown assured the protesters that their grievances would be addressed by the appropriate authority.
The protest was also taken to the Divisional Police Headquarters in Ovwian-Aladja, government House Annex, Warri and other places of interest where assurances were given of intervention by the authority to assuage the minds of the protesters.