MOSOP writes Jonathan, issue 90-day ultimatum for the implentation of UNEP report

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Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People

6 Otonahia Close (By Kia Motors), off Olu Obasanjo Rd., Port Harcourt; Rivers State, Peace and Freedom Centre, Bori – Ogoni
P.O Box 10162, Port Harcourt, Tel/Fax: 234-84-233907, 230250; e-mail: [email protected]

1st October 2013

His Excellency
Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
President and Commander-in-Chief of the of the Armed Forces
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Villa
Abuja
Your Excellency,

IMPLEMENTATION OF UNEP REPORT: TWO YEARS AFTER
In the name of God, Ogoni, its spirits and fallen heroes, MOSOP conveys to Your Excellency and
members of your government, the felicitations and goodwill of the Ogoni people.

As you would recall Mr. President, MOSOP launched a titanic struggle in 1990 aimed at rescuing the
Ogoni people from the vagaries of political marginalisation, economic strangulation and environmental
degradation which had reduced the Ogoni people to the lowest rungs of society and imperilled their
survival as a people.

In the course of the struggle, the Ogoni had lost some of its best human and material resources and
continue to face instalmental death occasioned by ongoing pollution of its land-the pivot of Ogoni’s wellbeing.

As a response to the Ogoni campaigns, the United Nations passed several resolutions on Ogoni some of
which include the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 50/199 on the situation of human rights
in Nigeria mandating the then Secretary-General, Boutrous Boutrous Ghali to send a fact-finding team to

Nigeria in 1996. This was followed by recommendations from UN Treaty-bodies such as the CERD and
the 1998 Report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights by the then Special Rapporteur to
Nigeria, Mr. Soli Sorabjee who had recommended the environmental study of Ogoniland.

It was therefore with great relief and appreciation that the Ogoni People received the news of the
invitation extended by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2006 to do a study of the Ogoni environment after decades of
unsustainable oil exploration. The environmental issue had been one of the tripod of core issues in the
ongoing Ogoni struggle for justice.

Your Excellency, the UNEP report released on August 4th 2011 validated earlier claims of ecological
disaster by the Ogoni people against Shell. It showed hydrocarbon pollution in surface waters throughout
the creeks of Ogoniland and up to 8cm in groundwater that feed drinking wells.

Soils were found to have been polluted with hydrocarbons up to a depth of five metres in 49 observed sites, while benzene, a
known carcinogen was found in drinking water at a level 900 times above World Health
Organisation(WHO) acceptable standards.

To quote the summary of the report, “Some areas, which appear unaffected at the surface, are in reality severely contaminated underground and action to protect human health and reduce the risks to affected communities should occur without delay.

In at least ten President: Legborsi Saro Pyagbara; Deputy President: Fortune Okwah Chujor; Secretary-General: Nennibarini Dube; Assistant Secretary-General: Elvis L.Ikomah; Financial Secretary: Theophilus Barine Dike; Publicity Secretary: Legborsi Esaen; Treasurer: Keaniabarido
Ntambu;(10) Ogoni communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, public
health is seriously threatened”.

As Your Excellency will no doubt be aware, the UNEP report was a confirmation of the death sentence
that had been imposed on generations of Ogoni people since the beginning of oil exploitation in the area
that needed to be upturned with political will and a sense of justice on the part of the President.

The risks inherent in the findings of the report as known to you, Mr. President , are not theoretical risks but reports
of exposure to a daily hazard for which UNEP recommended immediate actions and health checks in these communities.

Your Excellency, in climes where lives are treated equally and people entitled to the same respect, the above scenario in Ogoni would have imposed a sense of national emergency on the part of government in terms of its response to the environmental crisis in Ogoni. Had this crisis happened elsewhere but Ogoni, we believe that the response would have been different.

Just last year , in the wake of the flood disaster that rocked Ibadan and other parts of the country, the Ogoni people saw the way you mobilized the nation to rise up to the challenge. Ogoni had expected the same from you. We had expected a type of national mobilization akin to what the Obama Administration coordinated in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill incident in the USA. Unfortunately, this had not been our portion in Ogoniland.

Two years after the release of the report, MOSOP assessment of the implementation of the UNEP recommendations indicate that the Ogoni people are still dealing with the pains of loss of livelihoods, impoverishment and misery resulting from the destruction of their environment. Two years after the release of the report, the assessment showed a scorecard of woeful failure on the part of both the Federal Government and Shell’s efforts which is less than 1% implementation demonstrated only by the erection of signposts on polluted deadly waters that dot the Ogoni landscape.

Your Excellency, it is sad that two years after the release of the report, the government and Shell have been promoting a piecemeal and superficial approach to remediation measures recommended by UNEP.

The response of the Nigerian government smacks of complicity and a deliberate action that is punitive of the Ogoni struggle and guarantees that Shell does not take responsibility for its mess in Ogoniland. The Ogoni people had seen this manner of punishment being meted to them with the Niger Delta Development Commission and would not accept it any longer.

Angered by the lukewarm response of your government to the UNEP report, saddened by the ineffectual and polarising approach adopted by Shell and determined to take their destiny into their own hands to ensure that the UNEP report is implemented , the Ogoni people had on August 9 , 2013, to coincide with this year’s anniversary of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples embarked on a Nonviolent
Peaceful Protest in which we amongst other things have given the Federal Government a 90-day Ultimatum to set in motion a holistic and multi-stakeholder process for the implementation of the UNEP report which respects all parties to the Ogoni dispute.

As part of MOSOP’s demands during the protests, the Ogoni People have stated that:1. More than a year after the setting up of HYPREP, we have not seen any direction and clear framework of intervention by the body on the Ogoni cleanup and everything related thereto is shrouded in secrecy. We therefore call for the scrapping of the hastily constituted Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project(HYPREP) and put in place a proper statutory mechanism to oversee the Ogoni Clean Up Programme

2. We call for the Establishment of the Ogoni Environmental Restoration Fund as recommended by UNEP.
3. To ensure that the legitimate interest and rights of the Ogoni people are protected, the Ogoni
people should be consulted and involved at every stage of the planning and implementation
process.

Consequently, MOSOP is asking for adequate representation of the Ogoni people on all the relevant committees and bodies related to policy, execution and supervision of the project in line with the internationally recognised Principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent which has
become imperative for any intervention process in Indigenous communities.

4. The payment of adequate compensation to the Ogoni people in respect of the damage that had been done to its environment as part of Federal Government efforts to address socio-economic issues.

5. MOSOP is deeply concerned about reported agitation by certain individuals and business entities to commercialize the prospective clean-up process by positioning themselves to corner the contracts, which, of course they would hardly implement after collecting the money. Ogoni is not
and cannot be put up for sale.

6. To guarantee the integrity and effective implementation of the UNEP report, there is need for supervision by an international oversight body recommended to the Nigerian government by the United Nations in consultation with MOSOP. This agency should collaborate with other
institutions dealing with the clean-up of Ogoniland.

7. The Ogoni people decry their current marginalisation under the Jonathan-led administration. As we write, there is no federal project in Ogoniland that positively impacts our lives and the Ogoni people appear to have been deliberately excluded from the scheme of things. No Ogoni person has been given any major appointment in the current dispensation at the Federal level. MOSOP is therefore calling for an end to this level of political exclusion.

8. MOSOP earnestly urges the Federal Government to prevail on NNPC to ensure that its Surveillance Contracts are given to Ogoni sons for proper monitoring of pipelines passing through Ogoni to avoid unnecessary buck-passing of failures to Ogoni people.

We wish to assure Your Excellency that we remain committed to working with the Federal Government through any effective process for the peaceful resolution of the matters stated therein.

We look forward to this matter being addressed with a renewed sense of urgency and MOSOP stands ready to co-operate with you in ending the death sentence passed on the Ogoni people through unmitigated pollution that has killed scores of our kith and kin.

Yours sincerely,
Legborsi Saro Pyagbara
President

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