The Leader and Spokesman, Conscience of Ogoni People (COOP), Chief Gani Topba, has said the Federal Government’s acceptance of the report of the United Nations (UN) team of experts and its readiness to clean up the impacted environment of the Ogoni people vindicated the alarms raised by martyrs of the Ogoni struggle that The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) employed bad oilfield practices in its operation of OML 11 (Ogoni Fields).
In a statement yesterday, Topba said Shell’s nonchalant attitude to Ogoni land left trails of devastating environmental and ecological degradations in the area.
The statement read: “You are all aware that the approval and ultimate flag-off of the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland brought the Ogoni nation and our friends in the international community great joy and hope that the labours of our heroes past did not go in vain.
“If for nothing, the Federal Government’s acceptance of the report of the UN team of experts and its readiness to clean up the impacted environment of the Ogoni people vindicated the alarms raised by martyrs of the Ogoni struggle that The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) employed bad oilfield practices in its operation of OML 11 (Ogoni Fields), which left on its trails devastating environmental and ecological degradations.”
“As a people, we must commend President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to the restoration of the Ogoni environment. In a demonstration of this commitment, the Federal Government established the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) and saddled it with the responsibility of coordinating, overseeing, and managing the clean-up implementation process in accordance with the recommendations documented in the UNEP Report.
“The HYPREP headed by our son was given the task of driving the clean-up process. It has been more than four years since HYPREP commenced the clean-up implementation process.”
Topba however said that since the commencement of the cleanup project, there have been accusations and counter-accusations on various issues relating to the conduct of the cleanup exercise. “We have received numerous calls from Ogoni people, friends of the late Ken Saro Wiwa, international human and environmental rights groups, and well-meaning individuals both within and outside Nigeria, who have inundated our office with calls and inquiries regarding the speedy resolution of all issues thrown up by the clean-up project in Ogoniland.
“Accordingly, we have constituted a Fact-Finding Committee comprised of prominent, independent-minded and reputable Ogoni sons and daughters to, inter alia, reach out to the stakeholders concerned on the issues raised regarding the clean-up of the Ogoni environment, hear their own sides of the story, report back to Ogoni people, and advise the Ogoni people on what we can do and what the Federal Government of Nigeria can do to ensure the successful restoration of the Ogoni environment.”
He appealed to the people of Ogoni to be patient and resolute pending when their collective interests are protected in all circumstances.