Rivers: Tension Heightens in Ogoni as Killing Persists

Rivers: Tension Heightens in Ogoni as Killing Persists

All is not well at the moment in the Ogoni axis of Rivers State, a vastly polluted oil ethnic minority in Southern Nigeria. Extra-judicial killing is fast becoming the norm in the area. A factional President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Fegalo Nsuke, in a statement to this reporter

All is not well at the moment in the Ogoni axis of Rivers State, a vastly polluted oil ethnic minority in Southern Nigeria. Extra-judicial killing is fast becoming the norm in the area.
A factional President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Fegalo Nsuke, in a statement to this reporter at the weekend, claimed that Nen-eekpege Lezor Legbara was shot dead on Friday while another, Kingdom Koomene who allegedly sustained gunshot injuries was in critical conditions.
According to him, ‘’it is regrettable that we appear again to be drifting towards 1995’’.
After more than 30 years of the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, allegedly threatening their way of life, the Ogoni people organised and began to protest. In 1990 MOSOP was formed with Ken Saro-Wiwa as president.
MOSOP developed an Ogoni Bill of Rights, demanding environmental justice and opposing the method of allocation of oil funds. They also organised a number of peaceful protests.
Due to Saro-Wiwa’s fame, those protests received international media attention. In response, Shell, according to MOSOP, used the Nigerian Army to silence their people.
But Shell had repeatedly denied contributing financially to any armed forces. Eventually the oil major consented that in specific cases they had paid for daily rations of patrolling troops.
Whether Shell made a direct contribution to the troops is a trivial point considering the massive amount of money that the oil company was allegedly providing the Nigerian government who controlled the soldiers. Both Shell and the government had much at stake in keeping the protesters quiet.
However, the frustration of the Ogoni people had brought them to a point of no return.
Despite repression and attacks on villages, MOSOP managed to rally over 300,000 Ogoni people to a peaceful protest in January, 1993. Saro-Wiwa was arrested, held and eventually executed.
Shell began drilling for oil in 1958. Ogoni was not the only area affected by the Nigerian oil rush. The entire coastal region of Nigeria has been drilled for oil. As a result, 90% of Nigerian exports and 80% of government revenue comes from oil. In the proceeding 30 years, $30 billion in oil was drawn from Ogoni.
The Federal Government received a portion of the profits, though none of the money ever reached the people of Ogoni. While Ogon was rich in fertile soil at the mouth of the Niger River and rested on one of the largest oil reserves in the world, the Ogoni people lived in abject poverty for the 30 years of Shell’s drilling.
They had no electricity, no sewer system, and no water filtration. Schools and hospitals were non-existent. Without notice, a construction crew would arrive in the morning and tear up a planted field to run pipe across to continually develop infrastructure to support the drilling. Flaring stations shot soot into the air from exploding natural gas next to villages that desperately needed energy for electricity and cooking.
Oil spills caused massive fish kills, ruined the only potable water supply, and seeped into the fields, shriveling cassava and yams. The socio-economy of the Ogoni was destroyed while the wealth of their land was shipped away.
In the mean time, galled by latest report of shooting and killing in Kegbara Dere community in Gokana Local Government Area, allegedly by men of the Nigerian Army, MOSOP totally condemned such operation and is calling on the security agencies to stop reckless killings in Ogoni communities.
MOSOP Acting Publicity Secretary, Sunny Zorvah, said the group on Friday received a report of an alleged military raid in K. Dere community which led to the death of a middle aged man, Nen-elkpege Lezor, and one Lenu Kpegezor, who was shot but still in a hopeless condition.
According to him, the natives stated that men of the Nigerian Army came in company of SPDC pipeline workers and started shooting without any explanation resulting to the sudden death of a young man and other casualties.

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