An environment and human rights campaigner, Comrade Celestine AkpoBari, has warned the Nigerian Government against moving ahead with its plans to return to oil mining in Ogoni, otherwise, it should be ready to dig mass graves in the area because the natives have vowed to resist them.
AkpoBari, who spoke to The Neighbourhood on the sideline of the Annual General Meeting of OilWatch Africa, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, decried a situation where the ongoing clean-up of the polluted Ogoni environment had yet to make any significant progress, than the Federal Government talk about oil exploration resumption. “It is good that the Dr. Marvin Dekil led HYPREP is doing very well but we want to see them go far with the clean up before we even talk about anything resumption. We cannot afford to dance on the grave of Ken Saro Wiwa and others”, AkpoBari, who have fought for the implementation of the clean-up, told The Neighbourhood. Rather than concede fresh return to Ogoni by the people, AkpoBari said, “They should be ready to dig another mass grave”, as he alerted the Federal authorities not to be deceived by the promises of a few Ogoni.
“In the face of the recent letter from the Presidency mandating NNPC/NPDC to commence (oil) operation in Ogoni, I had, while briefing the members present at the Annual General Meeting of OilWatch Africa, posited that Ogoni people will resist every attempt to resume oil operation in Ogoni without first addressing all the legitimate demands of our people as enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights.
“The clean up of the mess generated by Shell in the past is yet to properly take off and now they want to add salt to our already bleeding injury. These rights we are talking about are enjoyed by other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria without any struggle or a fight.
He lamented the humiliation the Nigerian Government has continued to mete on Saro-Wiwa even in his death, citing the seizure of an artwork donated by foreign human rights groups to mark the 20th anniversary of the “judicial murder” of the Ogoni activist. “Imagine the art work in honour of Ken Saro Wiwa which Comrades in London donated for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the murder of Ogoni heroes, is still in the custody of Nigeria Customs. Ken Saro Wiwa contributed so much to the social, cultural and economic growth of this nation but the government has continued to treat Ken Saro Wiwa like a criminal, even in dead. This is unacceptable!”
He commended the ongoing clean-up of Ogoni project driven by HYPREP but said it is not good enough to justify a return to oil exploration. “It is good that the Dr. Marvin Dekil led HYPREP is doing very well but we want to see them go far with the clean up before we even talk about anything resumption. We cannot afford to dance on the grave of Ken Saro Wiwa and others. The government shouldn't be deceived by the few Ogoni that have promised them access. Blood is involved in our struggle even though it was a very peaceful one. We cannot afford to betray Ken Saro Wiwa.”