This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Ogonis Accuse FG of Colluding With Oil Firms

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has accused the federal government of colluding with multinational oil companies to commit irreparable environmental and human rights violations in Nigeria.

MOSOP President and Spokesman, Mr. Goodluck Diigbo, made the declaration while reacting to the recent filing by the Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic of an amicus curiae brief with United States Supreme Court in the case filed by families of Ogoni indigenes allegedly murdered for protesting Shell's activities in the area.

Amicus curiae is a brief filed with the court by someone who is not a party to the case.

The case, Kiobel vs Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., was filed under the Alien Tort Statute, a section of the US statute notable for allowing American courts to hear human rights cases brought by foreign citizens for conduct outside the US

The MOSOP chief noted that any measure of justice offered by the US Supreme Court would conserve the spirit of the American revolution, even though it can never bring back life or repair the eternal damage that the Ogoni have suffered.

"I salute these Harvard lawyers of conscience as the pride of American self-government," Diigbo said.

The MOSOP General Assembly recently vowed to apply what it described as "justifiable stiffer resistance", against attempts by the federal government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or any oil company to resume oil production in Ogoniland.

It said the resistance package would include the "use of tactics to protect Ogonis, their families and property against physical attack."

The tactics, the group added, were part of the indigenous Ogoni customary and traditional law, designed to prevent the desecration of ancestral lands and sacred sites.

MOSOP took the stand following government's declaration that oil production on abandoned Shell's 30 oil wells in Ogoniland would commence, notwithstanding a damning United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report that indicted Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for causing serious environmental contamination and threat to human lives in Ogoniland that would take 30 years to clean up.

MOSOP said government was insensitive to the plight of the Ogoni people and does not see the tragedy in their land as an issue that required any attention.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, told THISDAY last month that an interim report of a special review committee on the UNEP report had been submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan for further action.

She said the report would be further evaluated with a view to ascertaining areas to be adopted. The committee was set up by the president in August last year to undertake a holistic review of the report, which indicted SPDC for decades of oil pollution in the surface water all over the creeks of Ogoniland and make recommendations to the federal government on immediate and long-term remedial actions.

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