The Oil Mining Lease 29 acquired by Aiteo from Shell Petroleum Company Limited has continued to generate reaction, with the host communities kicking against its operational renewal.

Aggrieved communities of Opu-Nembe in Nembe-Bassanbiri area of Bayelsa State have filed a suit against the Nigerian government and two oil multinationals over allegations of an application submitted for the renewal of Oil Mining Lease 29 for another 20 years.

Those joined in the suit before the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, include the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Site Exploration and Production Limited.

The aggrieved communities, led by their representatives in the suit marked FHC/YNG/CS/62/2015, are asking the court for an order setting aside the application, steps and processes initiated by Aiteo Exploration and Production Limited, identified as the fifth defendant, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

In the writ of summon made available to newsmen in Yenagoa, the aggrieved communities, through their counsel, explained the ground for their application.

The document read: "The plaintiff by the suit filed on 4th August, 2015, seek to inter alia restrain the Minister of Petroleum (2nd defendant) from renewing Oil Mining Lease 29 in favour of the 5th defendant unless all pending issues raise in the suit are addressed.

"The 5th defendant, between 22nd January, 2018 and 22nd January, 2019, applied for and made payments to the 2nd defendant through the Department of Petroleum Resources for the renewal or processing of application for renewed of oil mining lease 29 (OML 29).

"The plaintiffs by this suit are also seeking an order of the Court mandating the 2nd, 3rd and 4th to commission an independent and comprehensive environmental impact study to assess the impact of over 53 years of operation in OML 29 on the plaintiffs’ communities and environment, similar to the United Nations Environment Programme's Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland.

"On or about 1st of March, 2019, further conducting the plaintiffs’ prayers for an assessment, a massive explosion and a resulting fire occurred in one of the wells in OML 29 bloc, exposing host communities and other environment and traditional livelihood to great danger. This incident is yet to be properly investigated and the 5th defendant has so far failed to adequately involve regulators and host communities in addressing it.”

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