OML 46: Bayelsa owned Atala Oil Field could be lost, Ijaw elders tell Diri

…inquires to know outcome of INC committee findings

Lagos—The Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF) has asked the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri to make public the present status of the Bayelsa State-owned Atala Oil Field.

The IEF regretted that the state’s prized asset could be lost if necessary attention is not given to it.

The group stated this in a letter addressed to the Bayelsa State Governor with the subject matter “UNJUST REVOCATION AND RE-ALLOCATION OF ATALA OIL FIELD TO A PRIVATE COMPANY: YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT.”

The letter was signed by Efiye Bribena, Secretary, Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), Lagos, Mr. Ben Amaebi Okoro, Moderator, Ijaw Nation Forum and Chief Amagbe D. Kentebe, BOT Chairman, Embasara Foundation.

Other signatories are, Hon. Iniruo Wills, President, Homeland Chapter Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), Mr. Tari Ekpebu President, Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), Lagos and Ms. Annkio Briggs, BOT Chairperson, Ijaw Women Connect (IWC).

The letter reads in part,

“Our letter on the above subject matter dated 18 August 2021 refers.

“We regret to report that to date, we have not received any response or even an acknowledgment of same. As stakeholders, we are concerned that this prized asset of Bayelsa State has not been given the necessary attention and if attention is not given, could be lost.

“If this happens, future generations of Bayelsans will hold us accountable for the losses and for our stewardship, specifically for not taking action to protect or recover state assets.

“It is for this reason that we are again requesting an update and calling for
your personal intervention in the interest of the state and justice. This is especially so, given stories making the rounds in the media that some individuals may have converted the prized assets as their own business.”

They asked the governor to make a public statement on the matter to clear all doubts and confusion.

The Ijaw elders advised Diri to institute a competent public inquiry to unravel the whole truth on the matter and make public its findings and recommendations.

The governor was also asked to take appropriate legal action, including sanctions where deserving.

They further advised Diri to appoint a competent board and management for the Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL) that can effectively drive its operations and in particular pursue the recovery of the oilfield. recalls that the IEF had written to the Bayelsa State Governor to take urgent action concerning the state government’s position in the controversial circumstances the Atala Oil Field (OML 46) was allegedly sold to a firm owned by highly-placed Bayelsans.

Similarly, the IEF in a letter addressed to Prof. Benjamin Ogele Okaba President, Ijaw National Congress (INC) inquired to know the outcome of INC’s seven-member committee that investigated the re-allocation of the Atala Oil Field (OML 46) whose license was previously acquired by the Bayelsa State Government to a private company.

The IEF stated that “we are concerned that this prized asset could be lost by the state if it is not given the necessary attention.

“We will appreciate if the INC can release the findings of the investigative committee on the matter to the Ijaw public.”

Efforts made to get the reaction of the Bayelsa state commissioner for mineral resources proved abortive as he did not respond to the message sent to him while filing this report.

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