Justice for Ogoni nine re-echoes as cleanup project wobbles

The Ogoni cleanup project, which was launched by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari seven years ago may be joining the nation’s long list of ill-conceived project. From the flagging off on June 2, 2016, it was much clear that the clean up exercise...
A site of the clean-up exercise

A site of the clean-up exercise

The Ogoni cleanup project, which was launched by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari seven years ago may be joining the nation’s long list of ill-conceived project. From the flagging off on June 2, 2016, it was much clear that the clean up exercise was not well thought out by the government.
As a result, its execution is currently marred by controversy bordering on deception and misappropriation of funds. Sadly too, there appears to be no political will to go ahead with the reports of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is to serve as the template for remediation.

Since the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his Ogoni brothers 28 years ago by the administration of the late General Sani Abacha, the hope of the people that the cleanup of Ogoniland and other environmental challengess in the Niger Delta region would be attended to, have been left hanging.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed has reiterated the UN’s commitment to assist the federal government in ensuring that climate change projects like the Ogoni cleanup remediation project, fight against desertification, Great Green Wall activities, and Sovereign Green Bonds are executed.

Mohammed said the UN is ready to see that the important projects are carried out to mitigate climate change, adding: “we are going to give priority to biodiversity, energy transition, nationally determined contributions, infrastructure, food and environment.”

Though Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, a lawyer, disclose that the project was on course, barely two months to the end of the current government’s tenure, nothing suggests that the clean up project is on the front burner.

Recently, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni people in the United States, raised the alarm over $1 billion theft and demanded termination of all Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), on the cleanup exercise.

Speaking during the 27th memorial of the Nine Ogoni, the President of Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Fegalo Nsuke, called for the review of the judgment of the military tribunal, urging the federal government to resolve the pending issues urgently by granting pardon to the innocent souls so that they could ‘rest in peace.’
Nsuke said: “Ogoni extraction is open for reconciliation and currently we are driving a process to address the problems that may still endanger the people today. The government must reciprocate the gestures by tendering apology to them, especially in the trial and execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others.

“In addition, the government should clear their names because of their innocence which is incontrovertible. We will never abandon these human rights activists and now it is expedient to cooperate with MOSOP’s efforts to resolve the lingering problems in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria in general,” he added.

According to Nsuke, while MOSOP pursues the cause to drive rapid development in the region, it is important that the government admits its mistakes, puts things right and take proper steps to pacify all parties, especially victims of the injustices.

Also in his submission, Mr. Promise Tonbel stressed that it was on record the Federal and state governments murdered peace, freedom and coexistence since 27 years ago and until the inalienable demands of the peoples’ rights regarding self determination were met, there would be no peace.

“We will continue to fight fearlessly and non-violently until we win as the death of our heroes including our leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa have divorced the Ogoni people and the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s relationship,” Tonbel emphasised.

“The martyrs lost their lives in the cause of fighting for justice for the people and left a wish that we should pursue the cause and clear their names to assert their innocence. If we fail to pursue their collective vision, which is captured in the proposed Ogoni Development Authority, then we would have failed them,” he added.
In a poem, titled: Till this vexed land is appeased, Chief T. N. Nwieke narrated: “In the six clans of Ogoni,I hear simpering voices that sang our vexed land singed rite of wellbeing that Ogoni has long been hours before they came, tricked us with their festering, untamable greed with nothing left but grief, death and mournful irritable greetings that turned the hoary hag rag away.”

On his part, the son of Ledum Mitte quoted his father: “We didn’t need any report; what is needed is a cleanup. Ledum, let’s talk; soft-spoken supercilious son of Ogoni, whose icy chains clang in peace talks, come this once and let’s talk, now that the wind is gusty, hurling around the ghoulish. Songs of our liberty fusty.
“Of Ogoni martyrs; that all must rise and honour, once I’m set to speak to restless spirits that wait upon the cause of Ogoni freedom. I hear the siege of turgid salutation. I told them the way forward; the pristine guilt in the deep of their hearts and judgment of time until Ogoni is purged and brought her siege,” he added.

Chief Edward Kobani coined his own words thus: “I didn’t see what Kenule saw, the rivers were pure and clean. The lakes glimmered, the wide sea brimmed with waves; the sky was full of croaking birds until angry winds rocked our hearts, the squares with hungry songs, held our folks in their tender rite of bliss.”

In fact, they rehearse the event at the just concluded COP27 in Egypt, where Oilwatch groups, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Earthlife Johannesburg, CAPPA, Kabetkache Women Development Centre, and Centre for Environmental Justice (Togo) remembered the martyrs of extractivism across the globe.
Nnimmo Bassey of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), declared: “Today, as we remember Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight Ogoni leaders who were wrongfully executed by the Nigerian government, we are calling on earth and human rights defenders martyred across the world for fossil fuel to be immortalised.

“Consequently, the blood has flowed, our lands have been polluted, and the world is heating. We are demanding justice for our heroes, a halt to dependence on fossil fuels; the real climate action – and a restoration of all polluted lands and reparation for ecocide.”

Similarly, Celestine Akpobari of Peoples Advancement Centre shared: “We want to remind the world that the situation of things in Ogoniland are far worse than in the days of Ken Saro-Wiwa. We observed during climate change confab that the world is on a speed lane to climate hell, but we want to say Ogoni people have been there over many decades.”

Akpobari further added that, “the planned forceful resumption of oil operations in Niger Delta region should be halted as it is capable of provoking conflict. We will resist the new scramble for African oil and gas, especially, the one from south south.”

Emem Okon of Kabetkache Women Development and Resource Centre declared: “As we remember fallen martyrs today, we pledge to carry on with their messages. We insist that all polluted areas be cleaned up and polluters held accountable for their ecological crimes in communities across the world.”

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