Three injured as fracas erupts during oil community meeting in Abuja


No fewer than three youths were injured on Tuesday at a meeting involving members of oil-producing communities from Delta State.

The incident which happened at the Sandralia Hotel in the Central District of Jabi, Abuja, turned violent leading to bloody injuries and an urgent call for the relocation of future discussions to Warri.

The Guardian gathered that the incident has sparked concerns about the handling of internal conflicts within oil-producing communities and the potential implications for the advocacy efforts of the Niger Delta.

One of the critically injured individuals was rushed to an undisclosed hospital for medical attention.

Calm, however, returned to the premises after intervention by security operatives from the Utako Police Division and the hotel management.

Addressing journalists after normalcy was restored, President-General of the Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities Youth Leaders, Victor Udoh, expressed dismay over the exclusion of some groups from the meeting, which he said escalated into conflict.

“During this meeting, there were significant disagreements; some groups were excluded from the invitation, leading to conflict and even bloody injuries.”

Udoh asserted that the choice of Abuja for the meeting resulted in “unnecessary embarrassment” for the Niger Delta and stressed the importance of inclusivity.

“We urge the Delta State structure of the oil-producing community to hold all future meetings in Warri, a significant city in the Niger Delta,” he stated, adding that Warri, known as the Oil City, is a more fitting location for oil-related discussions.

Furthermore, the Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities Youth Leaders called on federal agencies, including the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the National Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), to refrain from mobilizing community members to Abuja, citing “stress and uncertainties” involved in such travel.

Udoh also highlighted the need to involve the region’s youth in every engagement to ensure peace and tranquility.

“Our appeal is to ensure that future meetings are held in Warri, where the community has confidence in the leadership and the process,” Udoh declared.

He explained that the incident was initially suspected to be politically motivated but was later found to be related to the meeting’s location.

Chief Ayiri Emami, the Ologbotsere (Prime Minister) of the Warri Kingdom and an eyewitness to the altercation, remarked on the cause of the dispute: “The bone of contention is that some communities wanted to increase the number of delegates to the meeting through backdoor means and were strongly resisted.”

Emami emphasized the need for fair and equal representation to maintain peace.

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