MOSOP USA Central Working Committee petition to the United States President and other Worldbodies about the Sixty Two Years of Ogoni Agony.
We, the people of Ogoni and members of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People United States of America (MOSOP USA) on behalf of ourselves, Ogoni people in Africa and globally, bring you warm greetings. We are deeply thankful for the tireless work you do, making policies that positively impact us and all nations of the world. Such policies that target climate change, a serious enemy of the Ogoni people, and the rest of the world. We appreciate your policies that target poverty and hardship which climate change makes worse.
Your wholesome approach and dedication have made the world safe and at peace resulting in systematic growth and prosperity in spite of the tremendous challenges facing your leadership.
We are particularly grateful to the United States of America for opening her arms to welcome and secure the Ogoni people haunted around the continent of Africa, especially those in Benin Republic and Ghana.
After the ignoble hanging to death of the renowned Writer and Environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis on November 1995 by the Nigerian State, there were follow up threats, insecurity to life and property and total desecration of the land and desertion due to the persistent military aggression of the government against the Ogoni people. Life for the Ogoni seemed meaningless, nasty, brutish, and short, considering the suffering and pain including death that Ogoni experience. We sincerely believe that you can restore hope to the Ogoni People.
Ogoni under the leadership of late T. N. Paul Birabi, fought hard and made representations to the colonial British government during the colonial era, to regain Ogoni’s self-governance. In 1947 the Ogoni State Representative Assembly (OSRA) was established.
In the 1950s, Ogoni and other ethnic minorities agitated for their own separate states with the imminence of Nigerian Independence. Alternatively ethnic minorities demanded for constitutional safeguards that will guarantee their rights and freedom within the federation but unfortunately, in 1957, the Willink Minority Commission convoked by the British Government, rejected the demand for separate states but suggested a Bill of Rights that will guarantee minority rights, to be included in the constitution at Independence to protect the ethnic minorities as it is patterned in the European convention on Human rights. Reason for the Willink's Commission was to allay the fears of domination and annihilation and to protect the rights of the minorities.
In 1958, Ogoni lost her leader and representative in a controversial circumstance and was dragged and lumped with an unwanted major ethnic group with near impossible survival. That is partly the beginning of the Ogoni Agony.
At Independence, Ogoni was denied freedom, fundamental human rights and her self-determination was aborted. Ogoni has been manipulated and forced into internal colonization similar to the old and rejected feudal system. Ogoni is not given the right to practice her culture and religion; and not allowed to run her own special affairs, as guaranteed by nature and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Resolution 217 of 1948), and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly.
Successive Nigerian governments do not see Ogoni as a place owned by a native people-Ogonis (like any of the other nations) whose ancestry predates the creation of Nigeria as a nation. They rather see Ogoni as a conquered territory, which the government and its institutions, all of which are controlled and mismanaged by the three ethnic majorities who arrogate to themselves absolute right and power. We doubt if it would have been the same if Ogoni were not endowed with Oil, Gas, Uranium, and other minerals and solid resources.
Ogoni which has 147 towns, cities, and villages and about one million in population has no single state. It has been confined to languish in five local governments or council areas, out of which an ethnic majority forcefully occupy one of the local government councils after the government of Nigeria had used the military force to sack and flatten 11 towns and villages in the area on Easter Sunday in April 1994. The surviving inhabitants were driven into exile, with more than two thousand (2,000) Ogonis murdered.
Ogoni is currently squeezed into four Local government councils which cannot act in the interest of its people. The Nigerian government has imposed on Ogoni a state in which the Ogonis are denied their right to vote and choose their local leadership by taking elections away, thereby denying Ogonis adequate security and other essential developments.
Since the production of oil in Ogoni in 1958, about Three hundred Billion Dollars ($300,000,000,000.00) worth of crude oil has been extracted and carted away from Ogoni. In return, Shell waged an ecological war against innocent poor Ogoni citizens, by destroying the entire ecosystem. All the water resources including drinkable (spring/fresh) water, underground waters, fishing grounds, and economic trees have been destroyed by a calculated and intentional neglect, through oil spillages and gas flares from 1958 till date. Summarily, our livelihood has been taken away.
ENSLAVEMENT OF THE OGONI:
The Government and People of Nigeria have, despite the enormous contributions from oil exploration and exploitation from Ogoni, assumed no responsibility for the massive levels of degradation of Ogoni and its people. Peaceful protests against oil spills that have rendered Ogoni 900 times more toxic with hydrocarbons as attested to by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) 2011 Report than the international standards have always been met with contempt and military repressions. Soldiers are often sent into Ogoni villages and towns (with commands) to “shoot-at-sight” citizens, just to cower and intimidate the people.
Ogoni people are subjected into slavery. A people so blessed by God and nature are being treated like outcasts in Nigeria. Ogonis have no representation in the Senate, or State or National Assemblies as only surrogates of the government are imposed on the people. Ogonis still live without pipe borne water (clean water) no electricity, no University, no equipped hospitals, no airport no government infrastructure. Ogoni people are not considered good for any progressive development but are killed by the same government that should protect the indigenes from external aggressors. We have records and data of Nigerian soldiers shooting innocent Ogonis and no explanations come from the government or their representatives. (See attached)
Even as it was, from Nigerian Independence in 1960 to date, Ogonis are only considered for menial jobs in spite of their qualifications, while the wealth of Ogoni are carted away to develop other ethnics nationalities in the Nigerian state.
Subsequently, the United States Congress is aware of the Ogoni struggle, of which this current phase started on January 4, 1993 to mark or celebrate the United Nations International Year of World’s Indigenous Peoples affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992.
In 1958, Royal Dutch/Shell, in collaboration with the British government, found a commercially viable oil field in Ogoni and began oil production. (Ogoni had long settled in this area of the Niger Delta before Nigeria’s formation (1914) and before Shell’s arrival) and since then, Ogonis have not had peace or any meaningful development. Nigeria has not done anything to protect Ogonis, as it is supposed to protect her citizens from environmental abuses from Shell and other oil companies. Instead the country and its corrupt rulers have a calculated plan to exterminate Ogonis in conspiracy with Shell.
There are currently 36 states in Nigeria, and about 25 of them are created strictly on ethnic basis. Of these 25 states, Hausa-Fulanis have 11 states, while Yorubas have 6 and Igbos have five. The Ibibios have two and Ijaws have one. More than 99.9 percent of these states depend solely on sharing oil money. Many of these States are non-viable and lack resources and cannot survive.
The remaining (11) states are scattered among other ethnic groups, of which Ogoni is part of Rivers State. This implies that the three ethnic majorities have 22 out of the 36 states created by military fiat to the benefit of the three big ethnic groups. Whereas in a true federation, every ethnic nationality should be treated equally. It is believed that the extinction of Ogoni is a deliberate policy in Nigeria.
UNPAID ROYALTIES AND LAND RENTS:
Since 1958 when Shell and its counterparts had forcefully grabbed lands and property from the Ogoni people for oil exploitation and exploration, more than thirty billion dollars due the Ogoni for Land rents, mining rents and royalties are still owed the Ogoni people. Absolutely, nothing had been given back to the Ogoni people but death.
GAS FLARING AND LOCAL REFINING OF CRUDE:
Reckless Oil exploration has turned Ogoni into a waste land. Lands, streams, and creeks are totally and continually polluted. The atmosphere has been charged, poisoned as it is with hydrocarbon vapors, methane, carbon monoxide, acid rains and black soots emitted by gas which has been flared daily for sixty-two years and very close to human habitation. Oil spillages and oil blowouts have devastated the area. These poisonous chemicals contaminate our drinking water, poison the fish, animals, food crops and vegetations. Ogonis are unduly and willfully punished with these agents of death.
The lifespan of an average Ogoni man is now about 32 years while the national average is 55. Despite the atrocities and devastations caused by sixty-two years of gas flaring in Ogoni and the Niger Delta, the people and the government of Nigeria, Shell, Chevron, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company have refused to stop gas flaring. In addition, presently, prominent government officials and the Nigerian Army embark on illegal oil bunkering and illegal local refining of crude which now worsen the already devastated and polluted Ogoni environment.
In a 15-year period from 1976 to 1991 there were reportedly 2,976 oil spills of about 2.1 million barrels of oil in Ogoni, accounting for about 40% of the total oil spills of the Royal Dutch/Shell company worldwide.
In the 2011 assessment of over 200 locations in Ogoni by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) it found that impacts of the 50 years of oil production in the region extended deeper than previously expected. Because of oil spills, oil flaring, and waste discharge, the alluvial soil is no longer viable for agriculture. Furthermore, in many areas that seemed to be unaffected like underground water, was found to have high levels of hydrocarbons, contaminated with benzene, a carcinogen at 900 levels above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Acid rains, black soots and other poisonous acids in the air, food and water are the causes of many mysterious sicknesses and diseases, leading to untimely deaths in Ogoni.
UNEP estimated that it could take up to 30 years to restore the Ogoni environment to its full potential and that the first five years of restoration would require funding of about US$1 billion.
DANGER OF LAND DEVASTATION AS IT AFFECTS SOURCE OF LIVELIHOOD:
The Ogoni people have two basic occupations; Farming and Fishing. Oil exploitation and exploration started in 1958. By 1970, Ogoni started experiencing disruptions to their sources of livelihood in the land caused by erosion and poor maintenance of the pipelines and flow stations.
Environmental degradation has been a lethal weapon in this war against the indigenous Ogoni people. It is on record that, ninety-five percent of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings is derived from oil revenue and Shell oil is a major player in oil exploration in the tiny land space of Ogoni and Niger Delta.
The level of pollution and degradation in Ogoni today, is second to none in the world which sets the people of Ogoni on a time-bomb waiting to explode if urgent and earnest action are not taken to intervene. This would mean to properly clean, adequately restore the environment to save the people from extinction.
THE MOVEMENT FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE OGONI PEOPLE (MOSOP)
Ogoni experiences state oppression and internal colonization. Political marginalization, and economic strangulation are despicable. And realizing that all our rights are denied, the kings, the leaders, the chiefs and the elites of Ogoni under the leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa, decided and formed the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) MOSOP developed and wrote the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) as a tool and a guide to demand for the rights of the Ogoni people. So, MOSOP was born in 1990. MOSOP believes in a peaceful and non-violent agitation for the rights of the people.
THE OGONI BILL OF RIGHTS:
In 1990, MOSOP planned to take action against the government of Nigeria and the oil companies, to save lives. The OBR served to lead Ogoni people in the pursuit and actualization of self-determination, if Ogoni must survive in Nigeria. Ogoni demanded political autonomy to enable her to participate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate unit, and that this autonomy guarantees the following;
- Political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people.
- The right to the control and use of a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development.
- Adequate and direct representation as of right in all Nigerian national institutions.
- The use and development of Ogoni languages in the territory.
- The full development of Ogoni culture.
- The right to religious freedom.
- The right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation.
This noble document, the OBR, was respectfully presented to the Nigerian government and people on October 2, 1990. The government received the document but has failed to respond to it.
OPPRESSION AND MASSACRE:
On January 4, 1993, the people went out en-masse on a peaceful nonviolent protest to press home their grievances. Three hundred thousand Ogonis matched in all their towns and villages peacefully without any incident.
The multinational oil giants have refused to conform to any form of internationally acceptable corporate behavior and social responsibility. Efforts to get them into dialogue with Ogoni failed. Not even a response was given to any of our letters.
Instead of addressing the legitimate demands of the Ogoni people, Shell arranged and met with Nigerian Officials in England and the Netherlands in February 1993 to plan to wipe out the entire population and get oil without question. Soldiers were used to suppress and oppress the people attacking them from all fronts. At the centre of introduction of violence against humanity were and still are the Multinational oil companies SHELL and CHEVRON.
No sooner than the non-violent campaign of MOSOP for equality, freedom and fairness and the exposure of genocide, homicide, internal colonization and oppression of the Ogoni people in Nigeria began to gain the attention of the International Communities, the leaders of MOSOP were continually harassed, detained and tortured. Shell and the government began to re-strategize. One purpose was to subject the Ogoni people to physical, mental, and psychological trauma, to let Ogoni run out or to freeze. The human Rights crusader, environmentalist and the then President of MOSOP, late Ken Saro-Wiwa, suffered numerous intimidations and arrests without trial. Ogoni became a one-sided war zone where military checkpoints were located at every 5 kilometers mainly to extort money and valuables to impoverish the people. During this time, there were aerial, naval and land combing by the Nigerian armed forces.
Following the military occupation in Ogoni, several communities of Ogoni were invaded by the Nigerian Armed Forces. All MOSOP leaders and human rights activists were haunted and murdered. Communities were raided and sacked. The women were raped and shot afterwards. The young men were arrested, detained, tortured, maimed and murdered without any court trial.
In April 1994, A plan entitled ‘Operation Restore Order in Ogoni’ was unveiled by the River State Executive Council. It was for the use of force to suppress protests in Ogoni to enable Shell to return. Major Paul Okuntimo recommended, “wasting military operations” at all Ogoni gatherings.
From Easter Sunday, in April 1994, the Nigerian Armed forces in collaboration with the three major ethnic groups and Shell raided, sacked, and flattened 11 communities of Ogoni which have remained un-inhabited by its citizens till date. Over 2,000 inhabitants, from the Oyigbo Local Government Area were brutally murdered. the towns and villages include Oyigbo, Boobe, Oloko1, Oloko2, Tumbee, Ledor, Mumba, Lekuma, Nwenkova, Gbaken and Zeekol. Other towns and villages which have been invaded and occupied by one of the major ethnic groups included Sii, Kaah, Teenama, Gioh, Kpoogor, Kpean, and Kwiri. Ogoni suffered a total of about Four Thousand (4,000 deaths) and 80,000 displaced people.
THE HANGING (FROM GIOKOO TO THE GALLOWS)
With the strategies in place and the two hundred and four (204) methods of killing the people (as announced by Major Paul Okuntimo) the military then set up a situation where four prominent Ogoni leaders were murdered and their bodies abducted in a connivance between Soulless Shell and the Nigerian government in what they called, “wasting military operations.”
On November 10, 1995 the Nigeria state unjustly, brutally hanged 9 innocent Ogoni leaders, including the writer, novelist and human right activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, John Kpuinen, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, Baribor Bera, Paul Levura, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbokoo and Felix Nuate, for demanding for the rights of the people of the Niger Delta. These men were all environmentalists. These innocent men were arrested at various locations.
Without any proper investigation, no shred of evidence or proof of guilt, MOSOP leaders were arrested, detained, abused and put through a military tribunal and were brutally hanged to death in spite of all international pleas for a fair trial.
Ogoni people insist on retrial now; otherwise, the children unborn will still ask the same question. It will be recalled that in the case of Wiwa vs Shell, that the Royal Dutch Oil Company pleaded for and settled out of court in the US, in admission of her involvement. Bodo community vs Shell in London was also settled out of court. These are not good omens of accountability for a conglomerate as Royal Dutch Oil Company. Shell still has to stand trial for its corperate actions and behavior in Ogoni.
The Nigerian government, civil or military, hate Ogoni for challenging Shell and their cohorts.
The United Nations Environmental Protection on May 30, 1996, posthumously awarded Ken Saro-Wiwa as one of the 21 recipients of the prestigious award, “Global 500 Roll of Honors, the Goldman Environmental Prize.” He was awarded the “Right Livelihood Award” for MOSOP in 1994 and became the first Nigerian to be so awarded. The world is appalled by such magnitude of hatred by a government to its citizens. Would it have been a crime to be born a minority in Nigeria and asking for equity and fairness? No, it should not be.
- USA is asking for a comprehensive investigation into the abduction and murder of the four (4) Ogoni chiefs and the retrial of the case that led to the hanging to death of the Ogoni Nine (9), so that fairness and justice will prevail.
In 2011, UNEP had recommended certain institutional policy changes in the Nigerian petroleum ministry and industry to help actualize the cleanup project and cause the effective management of the industry. To public knowledge only the movement of regulatory work from the Petroleum Ministry to Ministry of Environment has been realized. Shell’s decommissioning responsibilities and other prerequisites to Ogoni cleanup, has been largely ignored. Yet UNEP has warned in its report that the best of Ogoni cleanup, remediation and restoration cannot be achieved in the current environment. This is when considering long- standing disagreement amongst the people, Shell and government. You may want to refer to UNEP Report on Ogoni.
It is necessary to reiterate that UNEP recommended Ogoni Restoration Authority to oversee the affairs of the cleanup. Also recommended were the Centre of Excellence and Centre for Contaminated Soil Management Studies. On the contrary, Shell and Nigeria in their characteristic manner, have created a fraud and deception referred to as Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). HYPREP is presently sand filling those oil spill sites making it the more hazardous.
The HYPREP, imposed on Ogoni has squandered one hundred and forty-eight million US Dollars ($148,000,000.00) as reported by it Managing Director and there is nothing to show for. It is important to state that the people are not given even drinking water.
MOSOP USA therefore appeals to The United Nations, the United States, the United Kingdom, African Union, ECOWAS, Human Right Organizations, the International Courts of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and all Nations of the world to prevail on Nigeria and Shell:
- To restore to Ogoni, its stolen self-government by granting Ogoni political autonomy.
- To Pay compensations / demands for the 62 years of emotional, physical, mental, and psychological trauma the Ogoni people have been subjected to.
- Pay thirty billion US dollars ($30, 000,000,000.00) for 62 years of accumulated land rent, mining rent and royalties owed Ogoni, and thereafter, Ogoni should have a say in future oil exploitation and exploration in the land.
- To Clean and restore Ogoni environment to a livable condition.
- Rehabilitate the Ogoni people and give back invaded and forcefully occupied Ogoni communities.
- A fresh trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others who were unjustly and judicially murdered by hanging in 1995.
- Do justice to the four Ogoni prominent Chiefs who were abducted and murdered in mysterious circumstances.
The reprisal started when Ken Saro-Wiwa exposed the environmental pollution, the wicked and slicky alliance between Nigeria and Shell, internal colonization, oppression, and genocide / ecocide in Ogoni. It is our hope that the United Nation, American government, British government, and other authorities of the world, will assist to broker peace among Ogoni, Shell, and Nigeria.
Thank you very much.
Dr. Anderson K. Ngbobu
Chairman MOSOP USA Central Working Committee
Mr. DineBari A. Kpuinen
Secretary General MOSOP USA Central Working Committee
Pastor LedibaBari Yorka
CFO MOSOP USA Central Working Committee
June 6, 2020.