Rivers State, Nigeria: Coordinator of the United Mission for Rural and Urban African Community Empowerment, Dr. Douglas Fabeke has appealed to the new Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to renew the hope of impoverished indigenes of Ogoni, an oil producing community in the Niger Delta region by ensuring that all the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme report on clean-up of oil impacted sites in Ogoni Land are properly implemented
Dr Douglas Fabeke
Dr. Douglas Fabeke who is also a founder of an indigenous Organization known as Ogoni Liberation Initiative made the appeal on November 10, 2023 at an event in Ogoniland to commemorate 28 years of execution of nine Ogoni martyrs by the military junta led by late General Sani Abacha on November 10, 1995. The Ogoni nine were a group of nine activists from the Ogoni region that led a massive protest against the environmental pollution in their area due to the operation of Shell oil corporation. The Ogoni nine included outspoken author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine. Their trial and execution on November 10,1995 were widely discredited, with critics worldwide speaking out against what was perceived as military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha, who was then in power. The immediate past President of Nigeria Mohammadu Buhari had adopted the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP report on Ogoni clean-up and approved funds for the exercise.
The Coordinator of the United Mission for Rural and Urban African Community Empowerment, Dr. Douglas Fabeke accused Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), of misappropriating funds meant for the Ogoni cleanup project
Fabeke said monies meant for the Ogoni cleanup project which is a benefit of the struggle which led to the assassination of Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis were being misused by the agency on things outside what was recommended in the United Nations Environmental Report (UNEP).
He said Ogonis have suffered so much as a result of the struggle and as such deserves adequate compensation and remediation of their environment in line with the UNEP report.
“We want the clean-up of Ogoniland by ensuring that all the recommendations of UNEP are properly implemented, starting with the emergency measures through the provision of portable drinking water with water treatment plants, provision of health facilities to render free medical care for our people suffering from different kinds of ailment resulting from long years of drinking water from contaminated sources and inhaling air filled with hydro-carbon”.
Commending the former President Muhammadu Buhari for flagging up the implementation of the report, Fabeke regretted that the Nigeria Ministry of Environment and HYPREP could not carry out a comprehensive cleanup of the environment in line with the UNEP report, saying that they have failed in every measure as far as the process is concerned.
Fabeke however, demanded that the process be reviewed for the cleanup of the environment to be done in line with international standard and best practices.
“We and the entire Ogoni people express our high level of dissatisfaction with the way and manner the funds meant for the clean-up of the Ogoni environment have been misappropriated by HYPREP.
“Available records show that so far, a total sum of $366million has been released to HYPREP for the clean-up of the Ogoni environment. The said sum was released to HYPREP through the Ogoni Trust Fund, which have also been admitted by the management of HYPREP,” he alleged.
He also said there is need for resettlement of host communities that suffered a high level of pollution, seeing that some of the oil wells are located in their homes, thereby making their living so zardous and dangerous to live. Therefore, the resumption of oil and gas exploration production in such land will be unattainable and impracticable, unless those who care located near oil facilities and contaminated areas are relocated to a safer environment. This can be done under a master plan for the Ogoni development.
Fabeke further urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a committee to exonerate Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis of the crimes that led to their execution.
“We demand that President Bola Tinubu should quickly set up a legal team to look into the execution of Late Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others to exonerate them from the crime they never committed.
They were only crying against the environmental injustice against the Ogoni people. Mr. President, you have the opportunity to write your name in the book of history by correcting the wrongs done to the Ogoni people, the Niger Delta and other ethnic minorities in Nigeria,” he stated.
Family members of the slain Ogoni 9 with Dr Douglas Fabeke
Meanwhile, some family members of the slain Ogoni 9 have lamented their abandonment by successive governments since the death of their loved ones. The family members expressed their grievances when Dr Douglas Fabeke paid them a courtesy call at Giokoo in Gokana Local Government Area and hometown of Late Ken Saro-Wiwa in Bane, Khana where they gathered to mark 28 years anniversary of their loved ones.
Widow of Mr. Paul Levura, one of the slain Ogonis, Mrs. Charity Levura said she has never been happy since the death of her husband.
“I am not happy since my husband died, I am suffering and begging for alms to feed, so government should help us so that the death of my husband won’t go in vain”, she said.
Also speaking, brother of late John Kpuinen, Deacon Samuel Kpuinen expressed that the death of his brother and other Ogonis seems to be in vain as nothing has improved in Ogoniland.
He said, “My regret is that both the government and the international community has not made the purpose of their death realizable.
“The proceeds from the oil and all what they were agitating for, we have not seen the impact of that on our development as Ogoni is still as it was,” he said.
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