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Major International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, were on Friday last week forced to shut down their operations by protesting host community youths over what they described as negligence and inhuman treatment of the indigenes in the council area.
Trouble started when the youths carried out a review of the IOCs activities in terms of Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and come to the conclusion that for the fact the companies have not done well, they should not have any business operating in their communities.
The protest which lasted for hours caused total blockade of human and vehicular movements along major roads.
Business Hilights South East Bureau chief reports that the only major highway, Egbema Expressway which the youths accused the IOCs of destroying due to the regular movement of their heavy duty vehicles was also shut down during the protest.
However, at the peak of the crisis, the rampaging youths led by Comrade Okenya Thaddeus, addressed the media when they took their protest to the lawmaker representing Ohaji-Egbema State Constituency, Hon. Cyriacus Okoro Heclus saying “The oil companies in the area had been operating in the local government area for decades with nothing to show for it in terms of infrastructural development.”
“This is the time for all of them to leave unless they are ready to do what others are doing in other states where they explore oil and gas. Our youths must be engaged by the IOCs.
“We have not seen such inhuman treatment before. Our roads are bad. This gas inflammation is very dangerous to our lives and we must make sure that the needful is done in our kingdom.”
Responding, the lawmaker commended the action of the youths and noted that “I must commend your peaceful demonstration to register your dissatisfaction with the dangerous, pretentious and inhuman operations of oil companies in Ohaji-Egbema LGA.”
“I am equally sad over the heartless conduct of the oil companies especially their conspired agenda against the progress and development of Ohaji-Egbema LGA and its citizens.”
Hon Okoro Heclus, however called on the aggrieved youths to remain peaceful and assured that efforts will be made to find a lasting solution to the neglect, untold hardship and deprivation of Ohaji-Egbema people’s rights by the oil companies.
Efforts to speak to any top official of the affected companies (names with held) failed as their offices are under lock and keys during the protest and up till Sunday evening when our correspondent visited the protesting communities in the local government area.
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