Oct 07, 2011

Ogoni: Wrongfully Accused Demand Compensation

The case of 20 indigenous adolescents who are requesting N10 billion after being unlawfully arrested and tortured following the Ogoni-Shell Crisis was heard in court yesterday. 

Below is an article by Champion Newspapers:

 Twenty youths from Ogoniland in Rivers state who were arrested in 1994 over the alleged killing of four prominent Ogoni chiefs have called on the federal government to compensate them over what they describe as illegal detention and torture.

They are specifically demanding N10billion compensation to assuage their ill-treatment and sufferings during their 48 months in incarceration, at the wake of the Shell-Ogoni crisis, which also culminated in the death of renowned author and environmentalists Mr. Ken Saro Wiwa and others.

Spokesman of the youths and Pioneer Secretary of the National Youth Council of the Ogoni People (NYCOP), Mr. Nasikpo Nyieda disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Thursday [6 Oct. 2011].

Nyieda said some of them were tortured to death by security operatives at the Port Harcourt Prisons where they were imprisoned, in a bid to get information from them, even as he said, "a broom stick was inserted into their private parts by government agents to get information from us on the Ogoni crisis.

"One of us had his finger chopped off. We were given the worst treatment you can think of even though their spurious accusations against us were not in any way tenable.

"Clement Tusima was tortured to death in the prison in August 1995, while four others died after they were released from the prisons because of what they went through in detention.

"We were all arrested and detained on that spurious allegation of murder and dumped into detention to pine away for up to six prison years without being charged to any court of competent jurisdiction," he explained.

The youth leader said he personally led members of the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa Panel to the gallows were Ken Saro Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen were hanged and the cell he was detained.

"I took the Commission to the Port Harcourt prisons and showed them the gallows were Ken and others were hanged. It was a kangaroo trial and we wanted the whole world to know the real truth.

"They would have also killed us but for the fact that the international community came and condemned the trial and eventual hanging of Ken and co", he said.

Nyieda pointed out that the recent report of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has vindicated their position on the environmental degradation of the Ogoniland by oil spill from Shell facilities.

He said both Shell and the federal government should pay the N10billion compensation, since they were at the centre of the problem in Ogoniland being experienced to date.

"The untimely death of late Gen. Sani Abacha made a turning point for our freedom and we were released through a one-kind court process. We came out to meet nothing to call our own in our homes. Some of our houses were burnt down by Shell/government thugs, we lost our wives," Nyieda posited.

He further said section 35 (6) of the constitution that states that any person who is unlawfully arrested and detained shall be entitled to compensation, expressed optimism that "as a law abiding leader, President Goodluck Jonathan would look for a way of "appropriately compensating us."

The twenty Ogoni youths were arrested by the military government of late General Sani Abacha for alleged murder and imprisoned for six prison years without being charged to court.

He gave the names of some of the youths who died in detention to include Paul Deekor, Godwin Gbodor, Baribuma Kumanwee, Bariture Lebee and Adam Kaa.

Meanwhile, those who survive the travails said e of them have lost their wives, while others got their jobs terminated by the government without any reason.