Press Release I, March 4, 2024

ALERT: EX-ARTISANAL REFINERS’ PROTEST LOOMS AS PRESIDENT TINUBU KEEPS MUM OVER DEMANDS

The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria) has alerted the public to a looming spontaneous mass protest by ex-artisanal refiners across the Niger Delta, as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, remains silent despite being informed to nip it in the bud by addressing their demands within the shortest possible time.

YEAC-Nigeria, incorporated to among others, campaign against crude oil theft, artisanal refining, and pollution that has been at the forefront of campaigning, sensitizing, coordinating and proposing alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal refiners as crude oil theft mitigation mechanisms, said it learnt about the planned demonstration through the leadership of the modular refinery multi-purpose cooperative societies for artisanal refiners established and inaugurated across the Niger Delta and told them to halt the move that the Centre was going to write and inform Mr. President on their behalf to address their demands with a view to averting the impending mass demonstration, a mission successfully accomplished with a letter dated 30th January submitted to President Bola Tinubu, GCFR at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, February 1, 2024.

In a press statement released in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Monday, March 4, signed by its Executive Director, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, the group said, “We (YEAC-Nigeria) shared the intelligence with Mr. President to address the issues with a view to averting the impending spontaneous mass demonstrations that could complicate the unrest in parts of the country over the high cost of living as displaced thousands of people from the entire value chain of artisanal refineries may storm the streets simultaneously across the Delta.”

“The demands being made on Mr. President and the federal government by the ex-artisanal refiners displaced by both the joint military taskforce and pipeline surveillance contractors’ war against artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta include the issuance of the 18 modular refinery licenses, three per state already approved by the previous administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari for Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Edo States, and the inclusion of Abia, Imo, and Ondo States that were excluded, despite the presence of artisanal refineries.”

The statement further said that the thousands of ex-artisanal refiners are planning the street protest based on what they described as “difficulties, hardship, and hunger” coupled with the current worsening economic situation in the country, which has made them unable to feed and take care of their families since their dislodgement from artisanal refineries by the combined operations of government security forces and Tantita Pipeline Surveillance contractors thus, demanding the legalisation of artisanal refineries through the immediate establishment of the Presidential Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI)” proposed by YEAC-Nigeria as one of the alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal refiners.

The statement decried Mr. President’s silence so far and further revealed that they have also informed the Inspector General of Police, Department of State Services (DSS), National Security Adviser, and Chief of Army Staff, among others, about the looming protests in separate letters and urged them to provide adequate security for the demonstrators any day that the protest breaks out spontaneously and simultaneously across the Niger Delta after March 31st if their demands were not met.

While expressing optimism that President Tinubu, whom he said would renew the hope of the ex-artisanal refiners in his government by addressing their demands, Mr. Fyneface called on the youths to slow down on their ongoing mobilisation for the mass demonstrations but be on standby as their constitutional rights to peaceful protest cannot be denied them if the government fails to address their demands within their stipulated time frame.

Signed,

FYNEFACE DUMNAMENE FYNEFACE,

Executive Director, YEAC-Nigeria.

fyneface@centreadvocacy.org

March 4, 2024.