The people of Nembe-Bassambiri in Bayelsa State are not happy with the federal government and an oil firm operating in their domain, the Aiteo Exploration and Production Limited.
Their grouse is that Aiteo has been battling to renew their oil wells license Nicodemously, despite an on-going court case by the people against the company.
The Nembe people are asking the court to stop the federal government from renewing the licence of Aiteo. In fact, they said whereas they were open to an out of court settlement on the matter, Aiteo was frustrating the peace moves, an allegation that the company countered when the matter came up last Friday.
Respondents in the suit the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Minister of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Environment, SPDC, Aiteo, Attorney-General of Bayelsa State and the Deeds Registrar, Bayelsa State Ministry of Lands.
Counsel to the Nembe kingdom, Mr Iniruo Wills had recently written to the ministry of petroleum complaining of the attitude of the company.
In the letter, he said “this move by Aiteo and your ministry is an affront on the jurisdiction of the court and in violation of the spirit of the proposed settlement particularly when at the last sitting of the court, the presiding judge had to adjourned the matter on the application of the lawyer to Aiteo to enable parties fully settle MTN option.
“Without prejudice to the on-going settlement, it is our view that renewing the lease while the suit is pending amounts to total disregard for the peaceful means the kingdom has opted to use in resolving this dispute.
“We consider this approach counterproductive as it could cause communities to vent their grievances using the same strategy of disrespect for lawful means of resolution.
“As a host community, the kingdom should not be disdained by Aiteo and the government for refraining from shutting down operations and preferring to have its protracted grievances resolved peacefully.
“All parties will benefit far more from handling the OML 29 and its host kingdoms in a way that avoids the same conflict-prone path as, for example, OML 11 in Ogoniland that led to the suspension of operation for 25 years”.