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Mexican Plantation Shutdown in Nigeria

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A high risk intensive Banana plantation in Ogoniland jointly owned by Rivers State Government, and Union De Iniciativa S.A De C.V - the Mexican Company; has been wiped out. A staff of the Rivers State Ministry of Agriculture estimated the cost of destruction to six million dollars. The entire banana plants were uprooted and destroyed.

Villagers said that the company behind the Banana Plantation was an agent of the Anglo-Royal Dutch/Shell, combining banana plantation with the armed search for sweet crude oil and natural gas. The villagers said that their communities have lost more than ten persons, while resisting the land-grab for the plantation that affected thousands of farmers, including victims from other villages.

Apart from dangers posed to local environment, the plantation had maintained slave labor. Some of the workers said that they have become sick because of chemicals, which they were given to apply in densely planting and fertilizing of the crops. There have been more than three bomb explosions on the site shielded by Nigerian security forces.

A journalist in Port Harcourt said his colleagues that belong to Outside Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), were prevented military forces on the instruction of the Rivers State Government from visiting the site of the destroyed plantation. My colleagues have been denied access to write the story, he added.

Another newsman with the African International Television (AIT) said his editor couldn't be stopped and that AIT was the only news organization that had carried the story without fear or favor.

When contacted, President/Spokesman of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Dr. Goodluck Diigbo said he had not received an official report.

Diigbo immediately constituted a committee comprising of the Ogoni Environmental Protection Agency (OGEPA) and Bureau of Ogoni Human Rights Watch (BOHRW), Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers Association (COTRA), Ogoni Farmers Council (OFA), Council of Ogoni Professionals (COP), Federation of Ogoni Women Association (FOWA) to investigate the situation on the ground, including reports about recruitment of slave labor, chemicals, deaths, and other matters, before MOSOP will make a pronouncement on the development.

The committee has two weeks to submit its report. MOSOP had earlier declared the Mexican company a persona non grata in Ogoniland.

Tambari Deekor
Associate Editor, MOSOP Media
[email protected]