Angry protesters from Diebiri community in Warri South-West council area of Delta State, on Friday, shut down the Batan Flow Station over alleged marginalisation by the state government.
The protesters, who stormed the flow station in their large number, categorically demanded that the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, give Diebiri Kingdom a slot on the board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), saying by virtue of existing rotational arrangement, their kingdom should produce the next commissioner to represent the Ijaw ethnic Nation on the board.
The protesters, among whom were some political leaders or the area, also vowed that the flow station would remain shut until their demand for the commissioner’s slot in the DESOPADEC is given to them.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, the councillor representing Batan community in the Warri South-West Legislative Assembly, Frank Pukon, said their rights had been trampled on by the state governor.
He said: “When DESOPADEC was created we have a rotational policy. Ogulagha has 19%, Gbaramatu has 17%, Egbema has 13, Diebiri has 11%, Idunu has 9%, Kor has 4%.
“The pioneer chairman was from Ogulagha. Okowa amended the board and created additional offices in the board. As a result of this, the Executive Director of the board was created which was given to pastor Philip Gbesin. It’s a clear fact that the next commissioner of the board should come from Diebiri and not Gbaramatu”, he explained.
He said it was surprising that the person that was nominated from the kingdom was replaced with another person from Gbaramatu kingdom, a situation he said would not be accepted by the Diebiri people.
Also speaking to journalists at the scene of the protest, the Governing Council Chairman of Diebiri kingdom, Michael Douglas, said the shutting down of the flow station was to draw the attention of the governor to their plight and to let him know that they are oil producing community and stakeholders in the country.
“The DESOPADEC commissioner slot is outright and until the state government gives us what rightfully belonged to us, we are not going to leave this place,” Douglas said.
Also, the youth president of Diebiri community, Godwin Epredi, said: “We are not happy with what is going because the DESOPADEC commissioner slot was supposed to be given to Diebiri people. But to our chagrin, before we knew it they gave it Gbaramatu people. We will not take this.”