Bayelsa youths, victims of the Jan. 12 Chevron gas explosion are seeking out-of-court settlement after seven years of legal battle.
The youths under the auspices of Koluama Clan Youth Presidents Forum (KCYPF) said that they planned to table the peace deal before officials of Chevron Nigeria Ltd. at the Funiwa 5 Well operated by Chevron in the area.
They had therefore requested permission to carry out peaceful protest to sensitise the public of their resolve for amicable resolution.
The position of the youths is stated in a letter to the Commanding Officer of the Front Operations Naval Base Koluama 2, made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Monday.
NAN recalls that the January 2012 explosion had sparked off a fire incident which burnt at the oil rig for over 50 days before it was put out.
Victims of the Chevron’s KS Endeavour Rig Explosion in Funiwa oil field in September 2015, thereafter, dragged the firm to a San Francisco court in the U. S. where the hearing has been ongoing.
But hundreds of Koluama youths had on Sept. 15, 2014, boarded the North Apoi oil platform operated by Chevron over non-payment of compensation for the rig blowout but eventually vacated the facility after officials of the oil firm opted for dialogue.
The peace letter was signed by Mr Digba Ikiotimi, Koluama 2, President, Mr Omietimi Henry and Mrs Perewari Boghomem, Koluama 2, Women Leader.
According to the letter, the community wishes to resolve the lingering litigation through meaningful dialogue to move on with lives.
“The disaster destroyed our environment and the entire ecosystem which is our means of survival.
“It is sad to note that after seven years of patience, the CHEVRON/NNPC Joint Venture has not taken reasonable steps to resolve a salient issue affecting the lives and survival of her host communities.
“In view of the above, based on the overwhelming need to act now that we are still alive, the youths of Koluama have resolved that a multi-stakeholders committee is set up to resolve the issue without any further delay.
“ The anticipated multi-stakeholder committee ought to include representatives from Lead plaintiffs/counsels (legal) from every legal action against CHEVRON/NNPC home and abroad, Chevron representatives, government representatives,” the letter read in part.
According to the youths, membership of the proposed committee should include representatives of individual claimants as well as community representatives.
But officials of the Nigerian Navy at the Koluama-base had urged the youths to approach the Central Naval Command in Yenagoa as it was not competent to grant such permission.
Sub- Lt. Patricia Dike, acting Information Officer at the Central Naval Command, Yenagoa who confirmed receipt of the letter, told NAN that that the Navy lacked such power to grant permissions for peaceful protest.
“The matter is out of our mandate; if any group intends to protest, it is the Nigeria Police and the Bayelsa government that they should channel their requests to not the Navy,” Dike said.
However, the Public Affairs Department of Chevron is yet to respond to an email requesting its comments on the 2012 rig explosion. (NAN)