Fumnanya Ojugbana, Lagos
The National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS International) United States America (USA), and Ogoni Lives Matter International (OLM) USA, two groups campaigning against environmental degradation in Ogoniland, have said that there will not be oil resumption unless an international company with capable professional and technical skills or technologies is contracted to supervise and clean up Ogoniland.
The groups therefore called for the disbandment of Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) and suggested that the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) should step aside in Ogoniland, Rivers State.
The groups’ position was made known in a press statement issued by the organisations, entitled: “HYPREP a fraud and a scam; it should be disbanded, UNEP should step aside”, dated May 18, 2019 and jointly signed by NUOS International, USA chapter president, Pius Baripkoa Nwinee, the secretary general, Sampson B. Npimnee, Coordinator, OLM International, USA chapter, Cornelius J.S. Dumerene and Secretary General, OLM International USA, Toate Ganago.
The organisations stated that “We, the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS International) USA, and Ogoni Lives Matter International (OLM) USA, are dismayed to note that the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands government continue to cover and weaponise Shell and Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project’s (HYPREP) environmental and medical fraud against Ogoni people by parading Shell, HYPREP and the Nigerian government on a foreign trip to London.
“Despite the recent Premium Times investigation exposing HYPREP medical and environmental malpractices, awarding contracts to companies with no professional and technical skill or technology, in a quest to siphon money out of the project, they still continue toeing the same line reported in the investigation.
“Ogoni demands are simple, we request the contracting of an international company with capable professionals and technical skills to handle the area because Ogoniland is under stress and we can no longer tolerate, accept or ignore this retrogressive, deceptive contraption with HYPREP,” the statement noted.
The groups stated further that they viewed “this belated international visit facilitated by UNEP to five sites in the United Kingdom and the purported statement made by the Netherlands’s ambassador to Nigeria as a fraudulent assault against environmental conflict and global warming.”
The groups’ leaders added that they were cynical, but not surprised to note that the ambassador and her government were satisfied with what is currently on the ground.
According to the Ogoni groups’ leaders, the intriguing questions the ambassador needs to ask the world are: is she agreeably blindfolded with HYPREP’s deceptive scheme, the environmental malpractices or the medical fraud?…or is she attempting to cover HYPREP’s fraud to bamboozle and hoodwink Ogoni not to stand up for their rights? Could we say she is satisfied the same way the Netherlands and the United Kingdom governments helped Shell buy justice or escape culpability in Kiobel vs Shell. Enough is enough.
“The purported visit is at minimum a lost opportunity designed to waste government’s money and at maximum another political gimmick to deposit Nigeria’s stolen wealth in London.
“Apparently, we disagree with their presumption that this visit will provide HYPREP with the best technique and technical know-how.
“It is totally malicious because no amount of visit to London would import an acceptable technology. Government should rather hire a capable professional to supervise, handle and monitor the restoration of our coastal and marine ecosystems,” the groups said in the statement.
They stressed that “while we have been grateful and remain grateful to UNEP for probing the worst oil pollution in the world, we also are deeply concerned about the conflict of interest and/or compromised between UNEP, Shell, HYPREP and the Nigeria authority.
“Whether it is fat pay-back given or paid to UNEP representatives or UNEP staff affiliation with some of the mushroom companies awarded these contracts, or UNEP representative on HYPREP Board of Trustee, the conflict these unions are creating in the exercise is troubling.
“A trust that has no reflection on Nigeria’s budget but provides unscrupulous investors with an unending resource.”
UNEP must step aside because, according to the groups, its independence has been corruptly squandered by its representatives self-seeking interests at the expense of Ogoni, the groups said.
The statement added that UNEP could no longer be the court, judge or jury in Ogoni clean-up or be given a blank cheque as an examiner, and a decider-in-chief of how much the clean-up should cost, then equally a trustee on HYPREP Board of Trustee.
The groups subsequently demanded for an oversight so that they could evaluate “UNEP’s work as true, accurate findings, reports and recommendations based on facts and not politic.”
“We call on Joyce Msuya to investigate and immediately withdraw corrupt UNEP’s representative from advising HYPREP because the aforementioned conducts are in blazing violation to defraud Ogoni people and cause more genocide in Ogoniland.
“We also want to put the Nigerian government on notice, to make true its mission of fighting corruption by disbanding HYPREP and stop its clandestine quest for oil resumption in Ogoniland. Though we do not oppose oil resumption in Ogoniland, we however, affirm that there will not be oil resumption unless an international company with capable professional and technical skills or technologies is contracted to supervise and clean up Ogoniland,” they said.
Copies of the letter were sent to the Embassy of the Netherlands, USA, the Embassy of the Netherlands, Nigeria, United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and the Executive Director of UNEP, Joyce Msuya.