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Ogoni Youths Protest UNEP Report, Block Highway

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[caption id="attachment_939" align="alignnone" width="600"]FILE PHOTO: Supporters of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) gathered to protest at the capital of Rivers State, Port Harcourt[/caption]

Hundreds of Ogoni youths in Rivers State, on Monday, blocked the Akpajo end of East West Road that leads to the Port Harcourt Refiney, Indorama Petrochemicals and the Onne Free Trade Zone.

The youths, who were protesting under the aegis of the Ogoni Central Indigenous Authority, expressed anger over the fact that the Buhari-led administration was not carrying them along in the proposed implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report in Ogoniland.

The protest which began as early as 7am, caused traffic gridlock in the area for several hours.

Speaking on behalf of their leader Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, spokesman of the group, Dumbari Boodam specifically demanded that they should be part of the ongoing dialogue on the modalities implementing UNEP’s recommendations on the clean-up of Ogoniland.

He stressed that any attempt to ostracise them from the Ogoni clean-up process would cause trouble in the land.

According to Boodam, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People was not working in the interest of Ogoni people.

He stated that MOSOP was politicising the issue of the implementation of the UNEP Report.

Boodam said, “We want to be carried along in the process of the implementation of UNEP Report,
“Failure by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to carry the group along will cause problem in Ogoniland,

“As far as we are concerned, MOSOP is not working in the interest of Ogoni people.”
In response, MOSOP condemned the protest, describing it as an ill-informed and unwarranted demonstration by a faceless group.

In a statement issued on behalf of MOSOP president, the media advisor, Barisria Kpalep, Cautioned Ogoni people and members of the public to ignore the group, adding that the protesters were being manipulated to draw Ogoni back.

It further warned that the people of Ogoni would deal decisively with anybody attempting to truncate their efforts relating to the smooth implementation of recommendations of the UNEP environmental assessment report on Ogoniland.

“Reports available to MOSOP have revealed that the demonstrators mischievously claimed that they were protesting exclusion from the UNEP report implementation process.

“We condemn the action and reject the reason adduced, which smacks of desperation. As far as we are concerned, the protesters and their sponsors, who have earlier declared an unrecognised ‘Ogoni self-government’ are drowned in ignorance and dubiously seeking relevance and should be discountenanced.

“Negotiation, we all know, is always done on representative capacity and not by the entire community, organisation or institution. In this case, all strata of the Ogoni society were fully represented in the multi-stakeholder engagement processes occasioning the President Mohammadu Buhari-led Federal Government’s approval of actions to fast-track implementation of recommendations of the UNEP report on Ogoniland.

“In fact, two prominent sons and a daughter of Ogoni, namely, Professor Ben Naanen, HRH Mene Suanu T.Y. Baridam, and Professor Roseline Konya chaired three out of the four working groups during the engagements. And the truth remains that the outcome of the engagements has been hailed in Ogoni and beyond,” MOSOP stated.

MOSOP revealed that those behind the protest were engaged in swindling unsuspecting Ogoni people through the sale of fake recruitment and qualification forms at the rate of N3, 000 each.

“It is a shame that whilst well-meaning Ogoni sustained efforts for the implementation of the report in view of the fact that the report passed a death sentence on Ogoni and the community has been harvesting deaths and suffering severe livelihood challenges, this fake group refused to identify with the people.

“Instead, they busied themselves with steps to dismember Nigeria and actually declared a so-called ‘Ogoni self-government’, which contradicted the collective position of our people as enunciated in the Ogoni Bill of Rights,” MOSOP added.