There is apprehension in Umuseti Community in Kwale, Ndokwa West Council Area of Delta State, following military officers arrest of five youths and President of the town, Felix Izah, over the closure of Pillar Oil Flow Station.
The Guardian learnt that the army officers, who were said to have acted on “orders from above,” invaded the community following reports that the youths, under the aegis of Ndokwa Delta Warriors, shut down Pillar Oil Flow Station and chased away its workers over alleged marginalisation and tenure elongation of the community youths’ leadership.
It was also learnt that scores of youths had fled the community to seek refuge in neighbouring towns for fear of being arrested by the army officers.
The youths, led by a United States-based indigene of the town and owner of Henry Land Hotel, said they carried out the protest because government and Piller Oil Company were still paying royalties to the executives of the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Umuseti when their tenure had expired, but refused to step aside.
A source said the youths’ protest was aimed at informing the world about the misuse of funds and underdevelopment of the area following government and the oil companies’ failure to initiate any development projects in Kwale as an oil producing community.
A few days to the closure of the flow station, the Ndokwa youths, led by its President General, Anselm Nzete, visited Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to prevail on the oil companies to develop Ndokwa, especially the oil producing communities.
But the Umuseti youths started protesting shortly afterwards, claiming that Okowa’s response undermined the peaceful disposition of the youths over the years.
Although Okowa blamed some oil companies for failing to do the needful in their host communities, the youths did not exonerate him from their plight because, according to them, the governor was still relating with the expired executives.
Meanwhile, President General of Coalition of Ndokwa Peace Ambassadors, Uboh Chukwuka Alex, has appealed for the release of Izah and others from army custody.He said Izah had been outstanding in the peace building of Ndokwa Nation, and should not be kept in military custody for too long.
The state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Onome Onovughagbogaya, confirmed that there was protest in Kwale, which resulted in the shut down of Pillar Oil Flow Station, saying however, that he could not give details because military officers made the arrests and not the police.