Scores of women from Mmahu Autonomous Community, Egbema in Ohaji Egbema council area of Imo state have shut an oil company belonging to an Indian firm, Sterling Global Oil Company for refusing to pay the burial rites for the death of three members of the community.
Two youths, Mike Imo and Abel Chioma were on Saturday March 8, 2020 crushed to death by the security van of the company driven by some military personnel escorting a tanker loaded with crude oil out of the village. A woman among them later died in the hospital.
But when Governor Hope Uzodinma visited the community on Sunday March 9th to commiserate with the community and families of the victims, the rear windshield of his official car was smashed by the youths of the community, who were protesting the death of their kinsmen.
The governor was said to have brokered agreement between the community and the company resulting to Sterling Global reportedly agreeing to pay the families of the deceased the sum of N20 million for burial rites.
But, about two months down the line, the company reneged on its promise, a development that caused the women of the community to besiege the company on Monday forcing it to stop operating in the community until the burial rites were fully paid.
According to the spokesperson of the women, Ezinne Abigail Chimaokwu, the women were not happy about the gruesome killing of three of their illustrious children by the security trucks belonging to the Sterling Global Oil Company.
She said, “These trucks with armed security men who killed our sons and daughter for sometime now, and also have refused to pay the death rites of N20M as agreed with the governor of the state who have appealed to us to accept the little token and bury the deceased.
“We can not bury the deceased persons because of the traditional demands which must be perfected to enable them commence their burial process else they won’t be lowered to the great beyond”.
Chimaokwu maintained that the women decided to shut the company and block the roads for the death rites to be paid, insisting that they would not leave the place until the right thing was done.
The women expressed disappointment over the manner the company was handling the situation, saying the entire community would fight to ensure may that the oil company no longer use the routes for trucking of crude oil.
Addressing the Women, the Army commander in charge of the area M.S. Akabi expressed surprise that the company had not paid the death rites.
Akabi, who expressed sympathy to the families of the deceased, assured the women of security if they conducted their protest without destruction of property.
A man, who posed as the Communities Liaison Officer of the Sterling Global Oil Company declined comment, saying he was not permitted to utter a word.