Demonstration against Chevron in Nigeria widens

Onitsha - Protesters blocked the gate to offices of US oil company Chevron in Nigeria's Niger Delta on Monday, widening a week-long demonstration to demand jobs and housing, a protest organizer and a community leader said.

Youths, most of them unemployed, have also blocked the entrance to Chevron's Escravos oil storage tank farm since last week, claiming the facility had destroyed their housing settlement.

"What we shut down on Monday is Chevron's administrative and logistics office in Warri that serves Escravos," said Collins Edema, a protest leader. "No work is going on there as we speak, and Chevron Escravos remains shut."

"Some of us are now in a meeting with Chevron personnel at the palace of the Olu of Warri (traditional ruler of Warri) but the protesters are still at Chevron's office," he said.

Community leader and Warri resident Godspower Gbenekama said the protesters have been demonstrating at the gate of Chevron's Warri site since early Monday.

"They are complaining that Chevron is not bringing anything to the table to benefit their host community," he said.

Chevron was not immediately available to comment on the office occupation or the meeting. The company confirmed last week the tank farm protest without saying whether oil production had been affected.

Communities in Nigeria's southern swampland often complain about oil pollution and houses being moved to make way for drilling.

They also say they live in poverty despite sitting on much of Nigeria's oil wealth.

The Niger Delta region has been hit by a wave of militant attacks on oil and gas pipelines, reducing Nigeria's crude output by 700 000 barrels a day, according to state oil company NNPC.

The militants, which are splintered into many groups, say they want a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth - which accounts for around 70% of national income - to be passed on to communities in the impoverished region and for areas blighted by oil spills to be cleaned up.

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