HUNDREDS of protesters stormed a Nigerian facility owned by Chevron on Wednesday demanding better jobs and forcing staff to be airlifted out, community leaders said.
Protesters from Ugborodo village, which is close to Chevron’s Escravos terminal, want the company to relocate more of its Nigerian offices to the southern Delta state to secure work for people living in the oil-producing swampland.
“Our people are casual workers in their own land,” Collins Edema, president of the National Association of Itsekiri Graduates, a community group, told AFP.
Speaking from the facility, Ofe Nene said that “400 protesters” were inside the Chevron yard while hundreds of others were outside.
“We have been here since yesterday and will continue to be here for as long as possible until Chevron gives in to our demands,” said Nene, a youth leader.
Chevron workers were evacuated from the facility in helicopters and planes, said a security staff member.
“A plane just landed 40 minutes back to continue evacuation of top staff,” he said.
“This is in addition to other staff who were earlier evacuated with the use of choppers.”
Ugborodo villagers have a history of staging protests against Chevron. Their complaints — focussing on jobs, community development and pollution — have stayed the same over the years.
In a famous 2002 protest, hundreds of Ugborodo women demanding more jobs staged a peaceful protest at Escravos lasting days.
Today protests aren’t the only headache for oil companies operating in the region. This year has seen an increase in attacks on oil infrastructure by armed militants demanding greater political autonomy for the region and a bigger cut of oil revenues.
A new militant group named the Niger Delta Avengers has claimed a series of attacks that have strangled Nigerian oil production at a time when the government desperately needs the money to revamp dilapidated infrastructure and fight Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast.