Ogoni land, which does not lack in controversies and protests, is at it again. This time it is against oil mining licence (OML) 11 that was abandoned by Shell but re-awarded to one RoboMichael Nigeria Limited by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
The latest protest is being staged by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), now led by Legborsi Saro Pyagbara. MOSOP’s steering committee met at its secretariat in Port Harcourt on Monday, deliberated on issues affecting Ogoni including resumption of laying of oil pipelines and the controversial operatorship licensing of OML 11.
MOSOP condemned what it called the unilateral and mindless demonstration of crass insensitivity by the NPDC in the award of OML 11, saying it was in complete contravention of the “free, prior and informed consent” of the Ogoni people as recognised and protected under international law.
MOSOP recalled that the Ogoni community and the oil industry had been in dispute for more than four decades. “In the course of this conflict, over 2000 souls were slaughtered in cold blood by the military protecting the interest of the oil companies, 14 communities reduced to rubbles and thousands fled into exile.”
A statement issued by Pyagbara (president) and Anthony Porole (secretary-general) noted that the attempt by the Nigeria government to resume oil production in Ogoniland through NPDC and her collaborators was a recipe for crisis and conflict with the Ogoni people. The group considered the approach by the government and the companies as an appalling demonstration of disdain for peace and what it called naked intent of causing conflict and crisis in Ogoni.
MOSOP said no company can be foisted on the Ogoni people and no oil extraction can take place in Ogoni without a broad-based discussion and agreement with the people taking into consideration the long drawn impasse between Ogoni community, the oil industry, and the Federal Government that had occasioned the loss of thousands of lives, destruction of communities and exiled others.
MOSOP warned RoboMichael to steer clear of Ogoniland in the interest of peace. The statement said the meeting also considered the activities of the companies and their collaborators in Ogoni as provocative and unfortunate as they tilt towards undermining the survival of the people by frustrating efforts at remediating and restoring the hydrocarbon contaminated Ogoni environment.
The group said oil production was not on the Ogoni card now but clean-up of the hydrocarbon mess in the area and urged those interested in Ogoni to think in that direction or leave Ogoni alone.
MOSOP condemned what it called resumption of the controversial laying of oil pipeline in Ogoni by Shell/NPDC suspended following protests. It considered the approach of the companies as an affront on the rights of the Ogoni people and an open invitation to crisis. It thus called on the companies and their agents to withdraw immediately from Ogoni or face the consequences.