OGONIS: WE WERE NOT INVOLVED IN UNEP REPORT ON OIL DAMAGES IN OGONILAND
At a MOSOP Emergency General Meeting in Bori, headquarters of Ogoniland on August 4, 2011, MOSOP welcomes the increased awareness the UNEP report on Ogoniland is likely to create about the continued threat of possible extinction to the Ogoni people arising from oil operations in the past 55 years. However, MOSOP resolves to dispute the integrity of the UNEP Report on Ogoniland, which was paid for with $9.5 million by the polluters, including Royal-Dutch/Shell.
MOSOP President/Spokesman, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, says MOSOP is challenging the integrity of the report, recalling an earlier confession by UNEP team leader Mike Cowing that the report has been informed by data and information solely supplied by Shell and the government, without actual study on the ground. The purported UNEP meeting with 23,000 Ogonis is only on paper, and there is no evidence to prove who attended, what review was done, agreements reached, if any and Ogonis who signed such agreements as proof of public participation as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study, EIAS due process.
Dr. Diigbo said: “UNEP report is a high profile media game. It began a day earlier with a news flash of Shell admitting responsibility for oil spillage in Bodo, Ogoniland. Then a report appeared, exactly in line with several other failed promises by Shell, stating one billion dollars to be spent for oil damages of 55 years, accompanied by an air view of a wealthy looking city at seaside that has nothing to do with Ogoniland. This is absolutely a regrettable act of disinformation and cover-up. Who determined that restoration of Ogoniland would last for 30 years? What is the extent or estimate of overall damage? Everything is dictated to us, the Ogoni people who have lost our means of livelihood, subjected economic burden and poverty. In Nov. 2010 the Ogoni worried that UNEP report was secretly being done and they immediately protested (see pictures attached). Meanwhile, the Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers Association, COTRA meets August 5, 2011 by 2pm in Bori to study the report and will issue a statement by August 6.
In arriving at this position, MOSOP takes into account continued effort by Shell to deceive and silence the Ogoni people as with the hanging of the Ogoni Nine, the corruption with which Shell cooperating with the government has treated environmental violation with impunity in Ogoniland, and the insensitivity of the Nigerian Government in handling specific Ogoni demands. The unilateral report may sound wonderfully pleasant because of the rich scientific literature, but MOSOP has records of conflicting statements by UNEP team leader Mike Cowing that contradict the genuineness of the report. This further reminds MOSOP of the previously publicized report of attempts by UNEP team under Mike Cowing to bribe Ogonis to sign on to an already written report even without a single visit to Ogoniland.
The outright rejection of this report can be thoroughly justified on the basis of lack of integrity owing to UNEP violation of due process and the arm-chair characteristics of the report. However, MOSOP calls for a second expert opinion on the UNEP report by independent experts, not including UNEP team members. This should include Ogoni representatives and independent experts appointed by MOSOP for purposes of equity and fairness.
MOSOP believes that it was because of the Ogoni demand for EIAS in 1990 that Shell conspired with the Nigerian government to murder MOSOP founder Ken Saro-Wiwa on November 10, 1995, along with eight Ogoni activists and thousands of other innocent Ogonis. Since the threats posed to human lives and land in Ogoni throughout 55 years of oil operations are hardly new, MOSOP wants EIAS carried out properly and in a comprehensive manner for practical application, instead of asking Ogoni people to swallow an arm-chair report. For instance, the notion that UNEP team tested 780 boreholes cannot be verified. There are several aspects of the report that have no basis in actual study, other than the rich scientific postulations.
Consequently, the report must not be pushed down our throats since UNEP failed to keep to its own due process requirements that rest the integrity of EIAS report on public participation, reviewing and monitoring collaboration, which would have made the UNEP report transparent and undisputable with valid agreements reached at various stages of the process as proof of transparency and acceptability.
The disputed UNEP report on Ogoniland demands for immediate way forward, and MOSOP calls for urgent independent:
1. Due process test;
2. Neutrality and impartiality test;
3. Integrity test, and
4. Reconcile with World Bank EIA policy, UNEP procedures and Nigerian Government regulations.
The way forward should further take into account: Principle 17 of 1992 UN Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development as well as political right and other demands of the Ogoni people contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights proclaimed on August 26, 1990 and revised on August 26, 1991.
MOSOP invites other inhabitants in communities where oil is produced in Nigeria to join in the dialogue on how to ensure a credible precedent for EIAS in Nigeria. MOSOP intends to release more statements on specific aspects of the UNEP report on Ogoniland and is further inviting stakeholders, including United Nations Member States to consider this evolving development in Africa for appropriate discussion.
Dr. Goodluck Diigbo
Skype: MOSOP. President-Spokesman