By Akanimo Sampson
THE Ogoni people of Rivers State in Southern Nigeria, have taken on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, claiming that they are negating their environmental rights.
They said for the oil company to continue laying pipelines in their land negates their environmental rights as well as an alleged great display of impunity
against the extant laws of the country.
MOSOP President Legborsi Saro Pyagbara said the Ogoni people from the onset had demanded that Shell carries out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) on these areas before the pipelines are laid.
When this request was allegedly rebuffed, MOSOP last August 4, called out Ogoni people for a peaceful protest at Biara community. ‘’Shell suspended operations but later resurfaced again at another flank of the Ogoni community in October 2017’’, he said.
According to him, ‘’MOSOP organized another protest at Nonwa, Tai on the October 26, 2017 which was met with heavy repression by a combined team of the security agencies called upon by Shell and its contractors to stop the protests. The soldiers beat the protesters, seized cameras from journalists’ and wounded some of the protesters.
‘’As part of our campaign, MOSOP presented this case before the United Nations Human Rights Council last November 2017 and also initiated an online global campaign against the laying of the pipeline in Ogoniland which had generated over 2,000 signatories of support from all over the world.
‘’MOSOP had also petitioned the National Assembly and the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in this matter. In the coming days, MOSOP will be returning back to the United Nations to make the world body know that the Nigeria government and Shell is still bulldozing Ogoni farmlands and continuing with the laying of these pipelines’’.
The Ogoni people are calling on the Federal Ministry of Environment to break down the wall of bureaucracy hampering the work of HYPREP to immediately cause the release of necessary funds for the agency to work with.
‘’The unmitigated delay between approvals and release of funds is killing the UNEP Report implementation process’’, MOSOP said, alleging that there has been an unnecessary, uninformed and highly-funded campaign of calumny against them and their leadership in recent times being coordinated by some oil companies.
‘’Contrary to the falsehood being bandied, we want to state unequivocally that the leadership of MOSOP is intact and working together in harmony. We do not deny that like any other organizations, we have had our own challenges but what stands us out is our ability to resolve our challenges and move past our differences for the sake of our beloved organization.
‘’In the last five years MOSOP has been in the vanguard of the campaign against resumption of oil production in Ogoniland predicating its resistance on the need for a broad-based discussion among the three critical stakeholders to the Ogoni conflict namely the Federal Government of Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Ogoni community’’, the group said.
MOSOP has accordingly called on Abuja and the international community to caution oil companies interested in Ogoni oil fields before their alleged desperate, despicable and corrupt bid to take over the fields plunge Ogoni into another avoidable cycle of crisis.
‘’I want to reiterate that MOSOP is not opposed to the resumption of oil production in Ogoni, which will take place only after due consultation with the Ogoni people. Oil companies wanting to do business in Ogoni must await the adoption of the report of the pan-Ogoni, Professor Ben Naanen Committee set up to draw a template for oil production in Ogoni, which will give such companies a level playing ground for their engagement with the Ogoni community’’, the group president said.