Police Harassment of MOSOP Activists is Threat to Peace in Ogoniland

It has become very important for us to brief you on the increasing harassment and threats from the Nigeria Police, particularly the Bori Area Command and the head of the Anti Robbery Squad popularly known as SARS in Bori who have consistently attempted to disrupt peaceful MOSOP gatherings in Ogoniland.

We wish to note that as law abiding citizens, we have always conducted our business in the most peaceful manner, most of the time, in our office and cannot understand the interest of the Police in seeking to deny us the right to meet in our own office as MOSOP activists.

Last Saturday, January 19, 2019, during a congress of Ogoni people at the MOSOP secretariat, the Police led by a man dressed in mufty and identified as the SARS commander in Bori walked into our gathering and attempted to take away the President of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke while he was addressing the people. That particular Police action was very provocative and unprofessional to say the least.

Our understanding of the SARS commander's actions is that he attempted to cause crises in the meeting to be able to execute a premeditated assignment. We have every reason to believe that there is a compromise on the part of the Police as there was no incident whatsoever to warrant that provocation.

This will not be the first time the Police in Bori will act in that manner. On January 4, 2019, during the annual Ogoni day, the Police also attempted to take away the President of MOSOP. During the MOSOP elections, there were similar attempts to stop the elections. In all these cases, we remained peaceful.

We are seriously disturbed by the conduct of the Police towards us and wonder what could be the interest of the Police against peaceful gatherings of the Ogoni people.

We are worried about this trend as it signals a drift towards 1994 when Ogoni suffered a devastating state-sponsored persecution that left over 2000 persons dead.

Over the past two months, we have witnessed series of Police harassment against very peaceful gatherings. We worry that the Nigerian Police may be conniving with mischief makers with the hope of finding a reason to clamp down on civil rights activities and members of MOSOP.

We urge the authorities to call the Police formation in Bori, Ogoniland to order so they do not cause any crises in the area. We expect the Police to protect our people and not be partisan to the extent of limiting our freedom to peaceful association.

We call on every Ogoni to non-violently resist every attempt by the Police to trample on our rights as a people and possibly cause crises in Ogoni. Our struggle for basic rights in Nigeria is justifiable and we cannot be intimidated.