In addressing the lingering crisis between communities in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State, Aguleri-Otu in Anambra and some Igala-speaking communities in Enugu State, the Senator representing Kogi East Senatorial District; Sen Isaac Mohammed Alfa held a meeting with members of Ibaji Oil and Gas Committee.
The meeting had in attendance; Sen Isaac Alfa, Hon Emmanuel Egwuaba, Engr Dan Omatola, Hon Dav Ogwu, Barr Reuben Egwuaba, Hon Damian Etiukwu, Chief Abu Bendo, Barr Thomas Acholo, Hon Felix Amajeh and other stakeholders.
The chairman of Ibaji oil and Gas Committee Engr Dan said “The exploration of crude oil in Ibaji started in 1952 in the villages of Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha/Uchuchu, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh all in Ibaji community of the present day Ibaji local Government Area of Kogi State”.
“The Ibaji LG lies along River Niger and shares boundaries with Enugu and Anambra States to the East, Edo and Delta to the West. The history of oil exploration in Ibaji LGA which comes under Anambra Basin in geological terms dated back to 1952, when villages in this area formed the then Ibaji district of the Old Igala Native Authority in Kabba Province of the Northern Protectorate. It later fell into Kwara and Benue States at one time or the other and now a Local Government Area in Kogi State. Between 1952 and 1986, three companies namely; Shell BP (now SPDC), Elf (now Total Fina Elf) and AGIP Energy have drilled 25 exploration wells, 2 appraisal wells and 8-core drill wells in the entire Basin out of which majority of the wells fall into Kogi State”.
“The NNPC/NPDC on its own carried out seismic activities in the Anambra Basin in which Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi East was largely involved between 1976 and 1983; about 4,500km of 2D seismic were acquired. From the report of NNPC, Oil and Gas was found to be in commercial quantity in Kogi State”.
According to the former chairman of Ibaji Local Government Area, Hon. Dave Ogwu; “During the exploration activities which includes among other things like cutting, shot holes drilling and exploration wells, compensation was paid to the people of Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh in Ibaji local Government Area of Kogi State respectively for damages caused on the farmland, economic trees, fishing ponds and shrine area as a mark of ownership of the land. However, the exploration of Oil activities in Kogi State part of Anambra Basin was later abandoned until 18th July, 2001 when the executive governor of Kogi State, Late Prince Abubakar Audu wrote to the Group Managing Direction of NNPC Abuja to remind him of earlier discovery of crude oil at Odeke, Echeno, and Anocha communities in Ibaji Local Government of Kogi State which was abandoned”.
“As a follow up to this call, on 25th July 2001, a team of Geo-Scientist/Engineers was drafted to the area to carry out a very preliminary investigation on the claims of Kogi State Government. The resuscitation of these productive core wells in the area among other areas prompted the granting of an Oil License now known as Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 915 and 916 to an indigenous company known as Orient Petroleum Resources PLC. Orient Petroleum Resources PLC has been taking Crude Oil from OPL 915 since 2012 till date. The percentages of crude oil in the OPL 915 among the three contesting states are as follows; Kogi State- 53%, Anambra- 23%, Enugu- 17% and Edo-3%. No drilling activity from the OPL 916 which belong to Kogi, Anambra and Delta States”.
“The activities of Orient Petroleum Resources PLC after acquiring the license to operate OPL 195 and 196 in Ibaji communities are well documented in their communication with Kogi State Government. These documentation span from letter of notification of commencement of exploration activities in Ibaji area, request for appointment of a Liaison officer who will interface between the company, the communities and the State Government on the issue of their activities, request for purchase of shares, report to Kogi State government on the disruption of activities by miscreants etc which clearly show that Orient Petroleum Resources PLC know the Oil belong to Kogi State”.
According to Kogi State former Commissioner for Information, two-time chairman of Ibaji Local Government Area and the indigene of Odeke community in Ibaji “The unilateral declaration of Anambra state alone in 2012 as oil producing state led to uprising in the disputed area and since then no 13% derivation was paid to either Anambra or Kogi States. Having operated exploration for this long time, it is time to declare Kogi State as Oil Producing State since it is no longer in doubt of the existence of crude oil in this part of Kogi State. This singular action will eventually reduce tension among the communities from both Kogi and Anambra States and enhance security of life and properties.
Senator Alfa thanked members of Ibaji Oil and Gas Committee and other stakeholders for their painstaking effort in ensuring that Ibaji Oil is protected from the evading states. “The Ibaji oil crisis has been on for a while now and has led to large scale destruction of property with loss of many lives. The Odeke and Aguleri communities of Kogi and Anambra states as well as the Igala speaking communities in Uzo-Uwani Local government area of Enugu State all laid exclusive claim to the ownership of the oil in the disputed area. As the Senator representing the people of Kogi East and the Ibaji Community inclusive, I deem it important for me to discuss with you and to obtain facts and the true position on this issue to enable me liaise with my colleagues from Anambra and Enugu States with a view to presenting a common position, if possible to the Senate to look into the issue.
This approach will encourage our people to continue to maintain peace and on our side we will continue to urge the federal government to declare Kogi as one of the oil producing states in the country to put an end to the mutual suspicion that exists on either side which has become a major source of tension, constantly in the area. So, the essence of the meeting was to first and foremost impress on our people to remain law abiding while I continue to liaise with the Senate and the Federal Government to declare Kogi State ‘an Oil Producing State’. The management team of the oil exploration company that was involved in the activity of exploration in the area is from Anambra state, and this has led to the erroneous belief that the oil belongs to Anambra State. The facts emanating from our meeting as part of the causes of the crises is the claim that Anambra State says it has invested N4 billion into the exploration of Ibaji oil. But the true position is that the investment is by Orient Petroleum, a private company which is not the same as Anambra State and this cannot therefore make Anambra the owner of the oil in Ibaji”.
Sen Isaac Alfa assured the committee and the people of Kogi East senatorial district that he will not leave any stone unturned in his determination to urge the Federal Government to declare Kogi State an Oil Producing State.
Credit: Onogwu Galacticus.