Aggrieved indigenes of Olomoro, a host community in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, have shut down operations of Oil Mining Lease 30, operated by Heritage Energy Oil Services Limited, over the alleged disengagement of eight indigenes working with the oil firm.

The placard-carrying protesters, who converged at the entrance of the oil company on Sunday, also accused the oil firm of sacking the affected workers “without any reason” as well as unduly marginalising the host community.

The Patron, Olomoro Indigenes Heritage Staff, Okpogbo Peter, while addressing journalists shortly after the peaceful protest, insisted that the company would not be reopened until the affected staff members were reabsorbed.

While maintaining that the action would be sustained until the workers were reabsorbed, Okpogbo noted that the disengaged workers were employees of the Shell Petroleum Development Company before it was bought by the Nigerian Petroleum and Development Company in 2012 adding that the HEOSL had not employed any Olomoro indigene since it inherited the assets from the NPDC in 2017.

He said, “Since 2017, the HEOSL has never employed anybody from Olomoro Community but would rather sack our people employed by Shell. We disagree with that. Heritage has no right to sack any of our community workers that were employed by Shell.

“They are owing Olomoro community slots. So we are saying the sacked community workers be called back immediately.”

Also, one of the retrenched staff of the company, Steve Okaro, alleged that the HEOSL had made a series of illegal employment over the years, which had over-bloated the staff strength, just as he further alleged that another company was attempting to buy the HEOSL but complained of the over-bloated staff strength.

Okaro stated, “We learnt that a new company is coming to take over from Heritage but it’s like that company is complaining of the staff strength. Now, they want to let some workers go and it is the community workers. Those workers they employed through the back doors, they did not touch them.

“They are owning Olomoro community more slots and they are dropping our people. We are saying no way, we cannot take it from them. All the eight sacked workers should be reinstated. Our President-General said we should take it diplomatically with them but they are not shifting ground, hence the protest.”

When contacted, the HEOSL Community Relations Officer simply identified as Mr. Williams, stated that he was not authorised to speak with the press.

He, however, promised to send the contact of the rightful person, which he never did as of the time of filing this report.

By Tochi

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