Oil spill: Residents of Ondo community protest alleged diversion of N150m compensation

•he is a threat to peace – Community leaders

Hakeem Gbadamosi – Akure


The people of the Ayetoro community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo state, on Monday, threatened a showdown with the traditional ruler and spiritual head of the town, Oba Micah Ajijo, over his continued holding on to the N150m oil-spill compensation paid by Mobil oil to the community.

The people of the community who staged a peaceful protest denied attacking or chasing Oba Ajijo away from the community but demanded the oil spill compensation paid into his account in 2021, while he vacated the palace to avoid the wrath of the people.

Armed with placards of various inscriptions, such as “pay our money for peace to reign, release our N150m Mobil oil spillage fund with you since 2021, Ayetoro demands payment of oil spillage compensation” among others.

The people stated that the claims made by the monarch were regrettable, adding that it was an indication that the traditional ruler was up to some mischief over the payment of oil-spill compensation.

Speaking on behalf of the people, Chairman Association of Fishermen, Pa Lawrence Lemamu, said that the monarch voluntarily vacated the palace when the residents of the town who are mainly fishermen demanded the money paid as compensation by Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited.

Lemamu explained that the sum of N150m was paid by the oil giant as an out-of-court settlement for the action instituted against the oil company over the oil spillage that happened in the community in 1998.

He said that the oil spillage destroyed the source of livelihood of farmers and fishermen while poultry and other domestic animals reared for commercial purposes were killed as a result of the contamination of water caused by oil spillage.

He, however, said the community representatives, which include, Apostle Dele Kudehinbu, Prophet Jimmy Obakpolor and Apostle Jackson Hommane nominated Oba Ajijo to the superintendent of the disbursement of the compensation.

He alleged that the traditional ruler after taking delivery of the funds from Mobil resorted to using the police to intimidate and harass members of the community.

Lemamu said “the community unanimously agreed upon an account to be submitted for the payment of this money but Micah Ajijo in his usual cunny way clandestinely and surreptitiously presented his account for payment of the compensation, while the fishermen waited endlessly.

“Since 2021 when the compensation was paid, attempts and frantic efforts have been made to prevail and call Micah Ajijo to order so that over 2000 people affected by the spillage who are predominantly fishermen would be paid their entitlement but all these efforts proved abortive.

“The beneficiaries have waited for two good years for their money without positive results and decided to embark on a peaceful protest to ensure the payment of the compensation but the money has been diverted into the personal purse and pocket of Ajijo while the people leave in abject poverty.

Lemamu said the protest was peaceful, saying the monarch sneaked out of the community to escape the wrath of the people over the compensation money and twisted the story that he was attacked by hoodlums

“This has been his style, all these allegations levelled against the people of the community are baseless and false. His house and properties are intact. Some of his workers have started moving his property out of the palace, but we are peaceful people and will not take the law into our hands.

There was no assassination attempt or looting of his property. We cannot afford to lose him now, we have been praying for him so that the debts would be paid, no one will ever want to kill or pray for his debtor to die.

“We wish Micah Ajijo has valuables that we can hold in trust pending the time he can pay our money, but unfortunately he doesn’t. His allegations are baseless, we decided to record some of his men moving his property out of the house, we will produce the videos available when necessary”

He called on relevant authorities and state government to wade into the matter and call the traditional ruler to order and intervene in the looming crisis in the community to prevent it from degenerating into a crisis.




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