|Barrister Courage Nsirimovu|
Report By Courage Nsirimovu
Access To Justice Attorney,
Institute Of Human Rights And Humanitarian Laws.
Theme: UNEP Report And The Quest For Ecological Justice In Ogoniland
The meeting started at about 10am with the opening remark by Dr. Otive Igbuzor (Executive Director, African Centre). He stated that the struggle for Eco-Justice dates back to colonial times, which graduated into arm struggle. He emphasized the essence of documented report in such a struggle. The UNEP report validates or legitimizes the struggle and confirms the assertions of Late Ken Saro Wiwa and his compatriots.
Nimmo Bassey (Executive Director ERA/FoEN) said that “We are here today to mark a year of inaction after the report that was supposed to be implemented immediately after August 4th 2011. The report clearly stated actions to be taken urgently and yet has been delayed till this moment through the formation of unnecessary committees”. Nimmo denied the rumuor of declaration of an Ogoni Republic. UNEP Report legitimizes the Niger Delta outcry.
Few of The immediate demands are;
1. Provision of portable drinking water to avert death from acidic water
2. To place signposts at contaminated wells or areas as danger warning in order to stop the use of such harmful water or resource to prevent further death.
In response, the Rivers State Government provided 30 Tank load of water for millions of Ogoni’s not stating that the tankers were below clean health standard. This aid was rejected.
He said , to clean the land will take up to 35yrs , 5years to clean up the land and 30years to clean up the water . The oil sunk so many metres deep into the land as against the 2metres claimed by SHELL.
He further cried out that the 2012 budget had no provision for the cleanup and compensation and thus we must strategize to have it put in the 2013 budget.
Keynote Address was by Richard Steiner (Professor and Conservation Biologist, Oasis Earth)
(1) Stop future oil spill by adopting best international practice
(2) Clean up the affected areas
(3) Restore the land
(4) Compensate the people affected.
Emmanuel Alozie recited the last words of Ken Saro Wiwa in a session which would be reckoned as most sensational, but more sensational was the crude and shocking revelation from an Ogoni woman Veronica Kobani from GOI community ( now inhabited because of land and air pollution) She stated thus:
We are now refugees in our own country, the pollutions and acidic emissions have caused untold death and hardship on us. God did not plan this for us but SHELL made it so. SHELL and The Nigerian Gov. have refused to honour the report. A land where we use to pick periwinkle, Where our husbands fish and women farm, where we easily ferment cassava, is now dead. We appeal to the Government to look into the Ogoni Issue and restore our land . its now holiday But we cant take our inquisitive children home. They ask us questions we cannot answer, it will be suicidal to take them home, for many have died from the evil pollution.
We had about 6 speakers on various topics based on the issues at stake among which are Celestine Akpobari, Mike Karipo and Hon Uche Onyeagucha who gave most of the adopted recommendations. Celestine Akpobari spoke on: Why The UNEP Report Must Not Die. Mike Highlighted the UNDP report on Ogoniland. This is to mention but a few.
The ground was open again and recommendations flew in from sympathizers from north south east and west. It was good to also have solidarity from the north which made it seem like Nigeria is one indivisible nation. Questions were asked and answered . Lunch was served while the committee of four drafted the adopted recommendations. It was agreed that NGO’S would volunteer to partner with ERA/FoEN in pushing for the implementation of the said report. The 7 groups will take form based on areas of interest in the 7 adopted recommendations or call it plan of action.
1. Sensitize the Ogoni Community on what it portend for them to have the UNEP Report implemented 2. Mobilization of interest groups/Stakeholders allies for an organized push to compel the F.G and SHELL to comply with the UNEP report implementation
3. Preparation, submission and follow-up on public petitions to the Rivers State House of Assembly Committee on environment. House of Reps Committee Public Petition and the Senate Through Senator Magnus Abbe who represents Ogoniland in the National Assembly. 4. Organized Advocacy visit to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Rivers State Commissioner for Environment and the President through comrade Oronto Douglas.
5. Picket SHELL office at Marina by activists periodically until result is achieved
6. Institute legal action in FCT Federal High Court seeking for an order of mandamus compelling the F.G and SHELL to implement. 7. Look at opportunity of making presentation on the issue of implementation of the UNEP Report to regional bodies and blocs such as ECOWAS, AU, EU and Un.