Gov Wike frees 22 Exxon Mobil workers



* No charges to be pressed any more – says Attorney-General

* Tension in oil sector may tone down over shutdown of oil operations

By Codratus Godson and Gladys Nweke

The protracted dispute between the Rivers State government and ExxonMobil may die down any moment from now. Also, the threat by oil workers to shut down the oil industry by midnight of Sunday, April 19, 2020, may no longer be necessary as the Rivers State governor, Chief/Barr Nyesom Wike, has freed the 22 Mobil oil workers detained in Port Harcourt.

The state government had announced on Friday, April 17, that it had arrested the 22 Exxon Mobil workers who the governor said came in from Eket in Akwa Ibom State into Rivers State, saying this was a violation of the Rivers State Executive Order restricting movement in the state.

Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice for Rivers State, the professor, Zaccheus Adangor, said that the Mobil staff were released Sunday morning without charges. He said the state government would no longer press charges against them.

The AG said that they were released following interventions by well-meaning Nigerians. He noted that he monitored  the release of the 22 workers at the Rivers State  Isolation Centre at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt.

Adangor noted that the Rivers State Government remains committed to implementing the Executive Order issued to check the spread of coronavirus. The order stipulates that health authorities ascertain the  coronavirus status of those entering the State.

It will be recalled that Gov Wike had fumed at a press briefing on Friday that he would press the charges to the last possible limit and take the battle to any length to show that he was right and to protect Rivers people. He had accused federal authorities of undermining the powers of his state.

He said the FG must recognize where they were getting the oil and its revenues from, and decried what he called marginalization of his state. He even said some federal personalities wished his state to have high number of infections, but that he would stand firm to debar such wishes. He announced that Rivers had no single COVID-19 positive official case anymore after the exit of the second case.

Many had seen his statements as being confrontational to the federal government.