The petroleum and Natural Gas senior staff association Nigeria PENGASSAN says the arrest of its members on the orders of the rivers state government is illegal and unnecessary flexing of muscle by the police on the others of the state government.
A statement jointly signed by the National Chairman of PENGASSAN Razaq.A.Obe and Secretary: Kings .J. Udoidua dated April 17, 2020 stated the union position as follows:
UPDATE: ILLEGAL DETENTION OF EXXONMOBIL OFFSHORE PERSONNEL BY RIVERS STATE AUTHORITIES
- ExxonMobil Nigeria, like other responsible organizations, has adopted 14 days’ isolation of all personnel as a prerequisite for offshore travels in order to mitigate COVID-19 risk.
- It has facilities in Akwa Ibom State and one in Port Harcourt (Intels) to achieve (1) above.
- Recall the federal government of Nigeria exempted oil and gas workers on essential service from COVID-19 restrictions in FCT, Lagos State and Ogun State. The same was mirrored in various communications from Rivers State government which have permitted unfettered movements of other IOCs’ essential service personnel and critical materials.
- 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 Elekahia 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.