…issues 24-hours ultimatum; as AKSG, Company keep mum
By Ime Silas
Akwa Ibom state Coordinator of Gas Pipeline Host Communities’ Forum, Comrade Kufre Emmanson has issued a twenty-four hours ultimatum to East Horizon Gas Company Limited, owners and operators of the gas pipeline traversing fifty-eight communities in Akwa Ibom state, to immediately fix the reportedly leaking portion of the pipeline to forestall any undesirable occurrence in the host community.
The nine host local government areas are Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun, Oruk Anam, Abak, Uyo, Etinan, Nsit Ibom, Ibesikpo and Uruan.
Speaking while addressing indigenes of Edem Idim Ibesit, one of the gas pipeline host communities in Oruk Anam local government area of the state last Thursday, October 21, 2021, Kufre, who spoke on behalf of the entire LGAs, also demanded for an immediate compensation from the Gas Company.
While appealing to the youths of the area to remain calm, shunning every temptation to vandalize the pipeline, Kufre stressed that the Host Communities’ Forum were for progress and development and not for destruction.
The youth leader who hinted that the leadership and members of the Forum were at Edem Idim Ibesit for an on-the-spot assessment of the reported leaking of the pipeline in the community as well as intensify security of the facility, however expressed his doubts, given the manner at which the company handled the incident.
At the scene of the affected portion dug allegedly by representatives of East Horizon Gas Limited, Kufre said “As the leader of Gas Pipeline Host Communities’ Forum, I am here to see what is going on in Edem Idim Ibesit which we are here, live. We have seen what the company did, that is, if truly it’s the company that did this.
I am doubting because ordinarily, if it was the company, they would have written a letter to the Village Head of the host community, notifying the community of the incident as well as their intention to come and work on it”.
Hinting on the pending court case between the Host Communities’ Forum and the Gas Pipeline Company, Kufre Emmanson divulged that their presence at the scene was also to get the facts, so that no one would do anything on the pipeline with ulterior motive in order to implicate the host community.
He continued: “Of course, you are all aware that there is a pending suit at the law court, where we, as the host communities, had to explore paragraph 4 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was signed on our behalf by the Akwa Ibom State government, and the East Horizon Gas Limited. Our resolve to seek judicial enforcement of the provisions of the MOU stemmed from the company’s refusal to honour same, years after its execution.
“Therefore, at the pendency of the litigation, we the host communities Forum must ensure that no one comes here under any guise to do anything that might end up implicating us. So, I appeal to all of you to remain calm and avoid any temptation that could cause you to aid, or be involved in vandalizing this facility.
We are for development and not destruction. We are to protect the gas pipeline and not to destroy it. If it is true that the company’s mission here was to repair a leaking pipe, we give them not more than twenty-four hours to fix the damaged pipe in order to forestall any danger for our communities. They must also compensate us immediately for the effects of the leakage as provided for in the MOU which they signed”.
Earlier at his palace, the Village Head of Edem Idim Ibesit, His Highness, Chief Aaron Jimmy had thanked the leaders and members of the Host Communities’ Forum for their peaceful conduct. The Royal father also assured the Forum of his full support to their struggle, provided that same was done in accordance with the law, and for the benefits of the members of his community.
Others who also spoke during the Forum’s visit to the palace included CLOs and CSOs of the nine host local government areas.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Youth leader of Edem Idim Ibesit, Mr. idorenyin Sunday Okon in a chat with our correspondent, narrated how vigilant members of the community raised the alarm that they saw some persons along the pipeline track. On getting there, he (Idorenyin) saw six Hillux vans, which conveyed one Mr. Sunny Udoh and others, accompanied by some heavily-armed policemen and soldiers.
Upon inquiring why they were excavating a portion of the pipeline track, they said they were there to repair a leaking pipe. Idongesit hinted further that while he alerted other youths of the community, the team left and didn’t return.
Neither officials of Akwa Ibom State government nor the Gas Pipeline Company has issued any statement on the matter. Efforts by our correspondent to get their response were unsuccessful as at press time.