ROGER THOMPSON BROWN,
THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER / EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC.,
16A TEMPLE ROAD, IKOYI,
LAGOS – NIGERIA
AN OPEN LETTER:
THE PLAN OF SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC., TO ENTER INTO / SIGN A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH SAPELE / OKPE COMMUNITY UNDER OML 41 WITHOUT CARRYING THE ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY ALONG IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS: A CATALYST TO FANNING THE EMBERS OF DISUNITY AND CRISIS AMONG COMMUNITIES AND PREEMPTING THE REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL PANEL OF ENQUIRY SET UP BY THE DELTA STATE GOVERNMENT: A CALL FOR RESTRAINT.
We act as Solicitors / Legal Advisers to ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY, of Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, and on whose behalf, mandate and firm instructions we write this OPEN LETTER.
This open letter is necessitated by issues of urgent importance connected with the plans of SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC., to enter and/or sign a Memorandum of Understanding with SAPELE / OKPE COMMUNITY under OML 41 (UTON FLOW STATION).
Sir, before bringing you to speed with the issues we hope you will expeditiously wade into and address; permit us to introduce the community known as ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY. ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY is an Oil Producing Community in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.
Having introduced the ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY to you, if you can recall that a letter dated 9th July 2020 addressed to the Managing Director of the SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC., wherein your office was also sent a copy and receipt of same was acknowledged; it might interest you to know that, several weeks after the receipt of the said letter, the Managing Director of the SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC., has still not deemed it necessary or fit to acknowledge same or address the issues raised in the said letter by ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY.
Sir, to apprise you with the issues contained in the letter written to the Managing Director of the SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC., and the reason why this letter is being made public; the Land which serves as host to UTON FLOW STATION (Shell Road) and other Oil Facilities under OML 41 being operated by SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC., belongs to the ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY. The ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY are the owners of all that large expanse of land which traverses from Utonyatsere through Gbekoko axis which is currently hosting the UTON FLOW STATION at Shell Road, and other Oil Facilities which is currently being operated and serviced by the NIGERIAN PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LTD., through SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC.
The said LAND is an ancestral Heritage of the ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY and they have been exercising proprietary and customary rights over the said LAND without any form of interference and opposition from any person or group of persons until recently when, the SAPELE / OKPE COMMUNITY most notably one Mr Augustine Arieaja trespassed on the said land which necessitated the Government of Delta State to look into the cause of the said trespass and uprising over the said land.
Sir, the ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY decided to use through this medium to draw your attention and that of the general public to the plight of the ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY most especially the likely consequences of the actions of SEPLAT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLC., in entering and / or signing a Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U) with SAPELE / OKPE COMMUNITY without recourse to the ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY as per her claims and rights.
The ABIGBORODO COMMUNITY is humbly urging you to use your good office as always, to wade into this matter and direct your company to stay action/restraint in respect of signing / entering a Memorandum of Understanding with SAPELE / OKPE COMMUNITY, as the action of your company if not nipped in the bud will:
i. Firstly, be a catalyst to breaching the relative peace in the said area; which might even lead to a communal crisis if not well managed.
ii. Secondly, the action of your company by going ahead to enter/sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the SAPELE / OKPE COMMUNITY will also be, pre-empting the report of the Delta State Judicial Panel of Enquiry which is yet to be published by the Government of Delta State.
We trust that recourse to wise counsel will be had in the circumstance, as a stitch in time they say; saves nine!