Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN ) has raised the alarm over the illegal detention of ExxonMobil Offshore Personnel by Rivers State authorities.
In a statement by the association’s chairman, Razaq Obe and the Secretary, Odoudua, PENGASSAN said ExxonMobil Nigeria, like other responsible organizations, has adopted 14- day isolation of all personnel as a prerequisite for offshore travels to mitigate COVID-19 risk.
According to the statement, it has facilities in Akwa Ibom State and one in Port Harcourt (Intels) to operate.
The association recalled the federal government exempted oil and gas workers on essential service from COVID-19 restrictions in FCT, Lagos State and Ogun State.
The statement said same was mirrored in various communications from Rivers State government, which permitted unfettered movements of other IOCs’ essential service personnel and critical materials.
PENGASSAN said: ” At about 3:30pm on Thursday April 16, 2020, Rivers State Commissioner of Police with his team and a top Army commander intercepted the convoy (protected by the police) conveying 21 ExxonMobil personnel who are PENGASSAN members on their way to Intels, Port Harcourt, at Bori (Akwa Ibom/Rivers boundary).
“The commissioner rebuffed all explanations and forced them to move to Elekaya Stadium, Port Harcourt, where they have been detained, verbally assaulted and starved.
“The original pretext for sending them to the stadium was to test for COVID-19 but there was no such possibility at the location; it is a construction site. They rather served them papers to write statements.
“It is appalling that Rivers State authorities have turned the global effort to tame COVID-19 to a tool of muscle-flexing and petty oppression of oilfield workers.
“We condemn the continued detention of the 21 members of our Union who stake everything to produce the oil the country depends on for survival.
“We call on all stakeholders to prevail on the government of Rivers State to end this most unpleasant drama. Our members have broken no law.”
Source: The Nation