From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
A former commissioner of Information in Kogi state, Tom Ohikere has said the controversial Ibaji Oil Well belongs to Kogi and should therefore be declared as one of the oil producing states in Nigeria.
Ohikere in a statement made available to journalists in Lokoja said the Ibaji oil crisis which has been on for a while now has led to large scale destruction of property with loss of many lives.
According to the statement, the Odeke and Aguleri communities of Kogi and Anambra states as well as the Igala speaking communities in Uzo-Uwani Local government area of Enugu State all laid exclusive claim to the ownership of the oil in the disputed area.
Hon. Ohikere maintain that Kogi state remains the true owner of the Ibaji Oil Well and should be declared as one of the oil producing states in the country for the sake of justice .
Narrating the story, he said the history of oil exploration in Ibaji LGA which comes under Anambra Basin in geological terms dated back to 1952, when villages in this area formed the then Ibaji district of the Old Igala Native Authority in Kabba Province of the Northern Protectorate. It later fell into Kwara and Benue States at one time or the other and now a Local Government Area in Kogi State.
Between 1952 and 1986, three companies namely; Shell BP (now SPDC), Elf (now Total Fina Elf) and AGIP Energy have drilled 25 exploration wells, 2 appraisal wells and 8-core drill wells in the entire Basin out of which majority of the wells fall into Kogi State”. “The NNPC/NPDC on its own carried out seismic activities in the Anambra Basin in which Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi East was largely involved between 1976 and 1983; about 4,500km of 2D seismic were acquired.
From the report of NNPC, Oil and Gas was found to be in commercial quantity in Kogi State”.
According to the former chairman of Ibaji Local Government Area, Hon. Dave Ogwu; “During the exploration activities which includes among other things like cutting, shot holes drilling and exploration wells, compensation was paid to the people of Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh in Ibaji local Government Area of Kogi State respectively for damages caused on the farmland, economic trees, fishing ponds and shrine area as a mark of ownership of the land.
However, the exploration of Oil activities in Kogi State, part of Anambra Basin was later abandoned until 18th July, 2001 when the executive governor of Kogi State, Late Prince Abubakar Audu, wrote to the Group Managing Director of NNPC Abuja to remind him of earlier discovery of crude oil at Odeke, Echeno, and Anocha communities in Ibaji Local Government of Kogi State, which was abandoned”.
“As a follow up to this call, on 25th July 2001, a team of Geo-Scientist and Engineers was drafted to the area to carry out a preliminary investigation on the claims of Kogi State Government. The resuscitation of these productive core wells in the area among other areas prompted the granting of an Oil License now known as Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 915 and 916 to an indigenous company known as Orient Petroleum Resources PLC.
Orient Petroleum Resources PLC has been taking Crude Oil from OPL 915 since 2012 till date. The percentages of crude oil in the OPL 915 among the three contesting states are as follows; Kogi State- 53%, Anambra- 23%, Enugu- 17% and Edo-3%. No drilling activity from the OPL 916 which belong to Kogi, Anambra and Delta States”. “The activities of Orient Petroleum Resources PLC after acquiring the license to operate OPL 195 and 196 in Ibaji communities are well documented in their communication with Kogi State Government.
“This documentation spans from letter of notification of commencement of exploration activities in Ibaji area, request for appointment of a Liaison officer who will interface between the company, the communities and the State Government on the issue of their activities, request for purchase of shares, report to Kogi State government on the disruption of activities by miscreants etc, which clearly shows that Orient Petroleum Resources PLC knew the Oil belonged to Kogi State”.
According to Kogi State former Commissioner for Information, two-time chairman of Ibaji Local Government Area and the indigene of Odeke community in Ibaji, Emmanuel Egwaba “The unilateral declaration of Anambra state alone in 2012 as oil producing state led to uprising in the disputed area and since then no 13% derivation was paid to either Anambra or Kogi States.
Having operated exploration for this long time, it is time to declare Kogi State as Oil Producing State since it is no longer in doubt of the existence of crude oil in this part of Kogi State. This singular action will eventually reduce tension among the communities from both Kogi and Anambra States and enhance security of life and properties, he said.
“You can not be sitting on a goldmine and remain in poverty”. And advised the government and people of kogi state to wake up from their slumber and do the needful on Ibaji oil wells. All the right buttons and necessary goodwills have to be mobilized in Abuja and anywhere needed, Kogi state cannot remain ignorant to its economic strength and the dynamics of oil gains in the federal economy, he added.