Niger Delta: Tension Mounts As Chevron Dares N'Assembly On Sacked Workers


SAN FRANCISCO, February 07, (THEWILL) -  American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), has dared the National Assembly order to reinstate two of its workers who were reportedly sacked in 2011.

The House of Representatives had on Thursday, September 19, 2013 considered the report of its Committee on Public Petition in respect of the petition brought before it by one Engr.

Okirika Okeoghene and Dateme Gilbert over alleged unlawful termination of their appointment in 2011 by Chevron and had ordered the American oil firm to take necessary action to reinstate the sacked workers.

But two years after the letter conveying the order of National Assembly to Chevron, no action has been taken on the case, thus giving the impression that Chevron is ready to withstand any action the National Assembly may   take against them over its defiance of its order.

This development however has heightened tension in the Niger Delta waterways as a group which styled itself as KOMBOT, an umbrella body of Ijaw graduates from Egbema and Gbaramutu Kingdom in Warri North and South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, has issued an ultimatum to Chevron over the issue.

The group threatened to sabotage Chevron facilities in the Warri waterways at the end of its ultimatum which expired Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

In the same vein, the Western Zone of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), has expressed concern over what it described as the trouble ahead following Chevron's refusal to reconsider the sacked workers.

IYC's Secretary (Western Zone), Comrade Freedom Atigbi, told THEWILL in a statement that his group would back any action taken by KOMBOT against Chevron in the Niger Delta since the oil giant had   deliberately refused all civil ways of settling the case.

The immediate past Information Officer of IYC (Western Zone), Comrade Oweikeye, who also confirmed the stand of the group to THEWILL, said:  "It was shocking that Chevron disrespects a resolution directing the recall of the sacked workers  by the National Assembly representing the collective will of the Nigerian people.

' Atigbi noted that though the National Assembly resolution was not a court order, it expected Chevron to consider same with appeals from traditional rulers, council of chiefs, EGCDF as well as KOMBOT officials in a Lagos meeting with the company on September 25, 2013 and use same as a window for reconciliation with its host communities.

Instead of obliging the request to reinstate the workers, IYC said it was incensed when Chevron denied ever promising to recall the sacked workers before an 15-man intervening committee which visited the company's office in Lagos.

"This action of Chevron has portrayed the company as a firm not reliable to hold consultations with," the IYC official said.

'We expect Chevron Nigeria Limited to increase its compliance with the Nigeria Local Content Law by employing more indigenes instead of depleting the inconsequential number by unlawful sack'.

The IYC statement said Chevron's resistance to the National Assembly resolution shows it had no value for reconciliation and wonders why it should still operate in the Ijaw territory.

KOMBOT had in the ultimatum addressed to Mr.
John Watson, Chairman/CEO of Chevron Corporation, USA, reportedly stated that the sack of the two workers was unlawful.

A Chevron source who craved anonymity said the company was yet to take any position on the issue, thus heightening fears in the Niger Delta that the youths may make good their threat amid mounted military resistance.