Youths of Ibeno, a coastal area in Akwa Ibom State yesterday blocked the entrance of Exxon Mobil in the area, requesting for an immediate clean up of the oil spillage that had occurred in an oil field belonging to the people, covering many places and entering into the water.
The protest became necessary, according to the people, because the said company would usually deny such occurrences and leave them to suffer the environmental consequences of gas and crude oil.
According to the youth leader, Monday Ekan, the company refused to respond positively since the incident occurred on Monday, July 17, which is why they have staged an endless blockage to the entrance until something tangible is done by Exon Mobil.
“Our only source of livelihood is fishing and if you go down the shores, you will see dead fishes around as a result of the spill”.
Mr. Ekan also lamented the problems they faced, citing water pollution.
“We use the water here for many things like washing, bathing and cooking but since this thing happened, it has been very difficult and most times, we cannot do any other thing but use the water like that. We will keep doing this until they listen to us.”
Also, the village head, Mr. Ikot-Bassey Essien corroborated the claims.
“We are with our youths in the protest. They have our backing because we can’t take it any more. Exxon Mobil has been very tricky with us”, he cried.
“Every time there is a spillage from their facility, they will deny it is not theirs. Then tell us who has it, nothing. And any time this happens, our fishermen will go jobless because fishes will die. Sometimes they will buy a large quantity of detergent to wash the oil which will further kill the fishes and send other fishes away from catch. What can we do?
“Look at our environment, we change our roofs almost monthly due to effects of the gas flaring in the area. We don’t gain anything from their activities here, yet they make all the money.”
The chief also went ahead to present letter-headed documents to Aprecon, which he uses to recommend his people for contracts and appointments from Exxon Mobil, but they never get those jobs. He also decried the poor state of the road leading to the hinterlands, saying the company only made the roads look nice around their facility.
On a visit to the Ibeno Beach, Aprecon saw some debris of the spill, after, according to the chief, the oil company had poured detergent around the water to dissolve the oil.
Ibeno people are calling on relevant agencies to come to their aid and prevail on Exxon Mobil to clean up their area and stop gas flaring.