(By Fegalo Nsuke)-
It’s barely two months to the twenty third memorial of nine Ogonis who were killed by the Nigerian authorities on November 10, 1995, and Shell was accused of complicity in the killing.
Few weeks ago, we – the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, called for investigations into the cases of harassment against Ogoni women in Gokana by soldiers attached to Shell workers currently laying pipelines in Ogoniland. And more recently, we also complained of the cases of Doodealo and Dr Nwosu, researchers, who were brutally manhandled by the same soldiers while they attempted to take samples for soil tests in Ogoniland.
At this moment, the Nigerian authorities have not acted in any way to protect our women from further abuses nor have they commissioned any probe into these cases.
In their response to the harassment of women, Shell claimed that the soldiers do not take instructions from them. But the fact remains that Shell invited the soldiers in their desperation to resume oil production in Ogoniland without any broad-based discussions with the people and therefore cannot deny responsibility for the crimes.
The conduct of Shell in Nigeria is despicable and an ugly representation of today’s business Community. With her overwhelming influence on the Nigerian government, Shell has taken advantage of our country to inflict monumental pain on our people, with impunity.
Shell has polluted and turned Ogoni land, destroying the people’s livelihoods and refused to compensate the people for the losses. Fully aware of the discriminatory laws under which Nigeria operates, the very laws that threaten the existence of resource-based communities like the Ogoni, Shell has completely abandoned its social responsibilities and instead divided the people against one another in order to weaken opposition to its unwholesome activities in the area.
Shell has prosecuted the war on Ogoni with every resource available to it, exploiting the people’s weaknesses especially the discriminatory laws that has deprived the Ogoni people their rightful place in our country. Rather than helping to build a progressive and prosperous host Community, Shell is comfortable with the current system that allows the company do what it dares not do in Europe. After taking over 100 billion dollars worth of oil from Ogoni, Shell continues to act indifferently even as it’s Pollutions currently kills over 200 Ogonis every week.
Shell does not feel bothered that people’s livelihoods have been destroyed and they deserve to be compensated. Shell cannot claim to be ignorant about the fact that their cannot be remediation without compensation for damages.
But Shell must pay for her crimes in Ogoniland. It does not matter the strength of the Nigerian armies, Ogoni will not surrender to the discriminatory laws of Nigeria which threaten our survival.
We demand justice for the Ogoni people of Nigeria. We demand political rights to self determination, we demand the rights to a respectable and dignified living. These rights are currently enjoyed by other groups in Nigeria who take away Ogoni resources and share among themselves leaving Ogoni with nothing but the pains and sad consequences of revenue generation.
We demand the review of the death sentences passed on nine innocent Ogonis during the regime of General Sani Abacha in 1995; we demand the payment of compensation by Shell for the destruction of livelihoods by oil spills from the company’s reckless oil mining business in Ogoniland since 1958, and an adequate funding for the cleanup and restoration of Ogoniland.
These demands are justifiable, legitimate and do conform with the ideals of the founding fathers of our country. We state categorically that as a people, we shall not compromise on our rights nor shall we relent on our demands for fairness and justice as contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights.
Fegalo Nsuke is the publicly secretary of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).