Ogoni: MOSOP Petitions UN Over Planned Military Barracks
Below is an article published by The Guardian:
MOSOP said the project not only has serious implications for Ogoni environmental security but also has vast implications on the people's food security and food sovereignty, cultural autonomy, economic security, job security and would definitely impact their struggles to reduce emissions.
The Ogoni group's petition was presented to the United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues 9th Session at the United Nations Headquarters, New York by its International Advocacy Officer, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara.
The Rivers State Government had announced last year that it intended to relocate the 2nd Amphibious Brigade headquarters to Ogoni area of the state.
MOSOP said it is saddening that whilst humanity is grappling with ways of dealing with the scourge of climate change by seeking for better means of protecting forests and embarking on forestation programmes, some countries like Nigeria are working in a different direction.
"Since last year, the Rivers State Government in Nigeria had proposed the building of a huge military barrack facility in the Ogoni territory. Large hectares of land and forests are to be seized from local people for this project, yet nothing concerning the project had been discussed extensively with the Ogoni people, our free, prior and informed consent have not been sought and no impact assessment had been done" said Pyagbara
He said despite Ogoni's protests and petitions, they have been reliably informed that the government had concluded plans to still go ahead with this project which would lead to the destruction of forests and confiscation of lands for the purpose of building the military facility, in flagrant violation of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples particularly articles 3, 26, 30 and 32 of the Declaration.
Pyagbara pointed out that the Niger Delta inhabited by a large belt of indigenous communities is also home to the country's stretch of mangrove forest. According to him, Nigeria has the third largest mangrove forest in the world, and the largest in Africa, covering an area of approximately 105,000 hectares.
The Niger Delta, which is the home to the largest proportion of the mangrove forest in the country, according to him, is currently reported to be the most exploited in the world based on Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, of the United Nation's report in 1997.
“Recent satellite-based study on the Niger Delta has found that between the periods 1986 to 2003, over 21,000 hectares of the mangrove forest in the region has disappeared. The study was conducted by Nigeria's National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in conjunction with the University of Missouri in the United States," said Pyagbara.
He explained that mangrove forest depletion and disappearance, which is as a result of several human-driven activities, especially, the massive oil pollution in the Niger Delta, is not only a threat to the people's collective survival but also a threat to the climate.
MOSOP said there is at present no known law and strategies of biodiversity conservation covering mangrove forest protection in Nigeria. Yet, the forest remains one of the greatest assets of indigenous peoples and their lives and well-being are tied to the wellbeing of their land and forests.
"There is no doubt that in the coming years, our forests are going to be under increasing focus and discussions as we grapple with the effects of climate change and the realisation that our forests hold some of the keys for mitigating the impacts of this catastrophe", Pyagbara declared.
MOSOP urged the United Nations to prevail on the Nigerian government to develop a coherent policy on mangrove forest protection and rejuvenation in line with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.