Groups To FG: Withdraw Resumption Order Of Oil Exploration In Ogoniland

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation and We the People yesterday asked the Federal Government to withdraw its order for resumption of oil exploration in Ogoniland.

Nnnimo Basset and Ken Henshaw ,Executive Directors of the groups said their position was premised on the fact that  the order is insensitive, ill-advised and capable of inflaming suspicions and conflict in an area that is already very fragile and prone to crisis.

The Presidency had in a memo al addressed to the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); and signed by Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari, directed to take over OML 11 (located in Ogoni, River state) from Shell Petroleum Development Company.

The groups recalled that in 1993, Shell was forced to abandon its OML 11 operations located in Ogoni and pull out of the area, following campaigns by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) led by environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, for fairer benefits to the Ogoni people from oil wealth, as well as compensation for the damage of their environment.

They said campaigns by the Ogoni ethnic nationality for a better deal from the Nigerian state also including restitution for the dearth of poverty in Ogoniland, as well as recognition and responsibility for the ecological damage of Ogoniland occasioned by the activities of oil companies.

They said the response of the Nigeria government to these peaceful demands was terrifying, while MOSOP was brutally repressed using the Nigerian military.

The mass killings and widespread carnage which the military visited on the Ogonis remain largely undocumented, adding that thousands of Ogonis lost their lives, and many others went into forced exile around the world. In May 1994, capitalizing on the unfortunate killing of 4 prominent Ogoni leaders by a mob of yet to be identified persons in Gokana local government area, Ken Saro Wiwa and other leaders of MOSOP were arrested and detained. s on October 31, 1995.

They said the fears of ecological damage which the Ogonis expressed was confirmed in 2011 when the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP released its assessment report of soil and water samples from Ogoniland.

They added that the report confirmed massive soil and water contamination which has significantly compromised sources of livelihood and was slowly poisoning the inhabitants of the area.  .

They added: “Given the above, it is worrying why the government will decide to resume oil extraction in Ogoniland when the pollution of the last decades is yet to be cleaned and the recommendations of UNEP have not been fully complied with.

“The action of the government at this time gives the impression that it only flagged off the Ogoni Cleanup through HYPREP in order to purchase the goodwill to resume oil extraction in the area. How else does one explain the fact that a site supposedly being cleaned up will resume full oil extraction activities with all the pollution that comes with it?

 

“HOMEF and We the People also note that the demands of the Ogoni people which led to the abuses they suffered in the hands of the Nigerian Military in the 1990s, and the termination of oil operations in the area, have still not been addressed.

“It is disappointing and demonstrates a lack of initiative for the government to imagine that those concerns have simply withered away with time. Those of us who have remain connected to the communities know for a fact that the Ogoni people remain resolute in their resistance to any renewed hydrocarbon extraction in their domains.”

“We fear that the manner the Presidency has approached this subject through an order, without any consultation with stakeholders in Ogoniland or concern for the reservations the people may feel, is capable of threatening the peace in the area and conveying the message that their complaints and demands have been blatantly ignored.

“ It is important to note that since the ugly events of the 1990s, the government has not initiated any peacebuilding processes in Ogoniland, neither has any kind of amelioration for the pains, losses and suffering sustained by the people been provided.

“HOMEF and We the People strongly recommend that the government withdraws this order for the resumption of oil activities in Ogoniland, and rather concentrates on redeeming the ecological disaster in the area, and replacing the lost sources of livelihood of the people.