Jul 02, 2012

Ogoni: Commission Condemns Lack Of Implementation

The National Human Rights Commission lambasted the government for the non-implementation of the UN Environment Program report regarding the situation in the Niger delta.

Below is an article published by The Guardian Nigeria:

The National Human Rights Commission has said that the non-implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme  (UNEP) report on the degradation of Ogoni environment infringes on Ogoni people’s right of existence.

Meanwhile, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has decried the systematic poisoning and degradation of the Ogoni environment “through a cultivated disregard that turned them into inert pieces of the overall eco-system, as if they lacked a culture of reproduction of their very means to existence.”

Chairman of the Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu at a town hall meeting organised by the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) on the UNEP report on Ogoni land in Port Harcourt, yesterday, urged the Ogoni to press for legal redress.

Odinkalu, who described as intolerable a situation where Ogoni people are still drinking water from wells that are contaminated with benzene–a known carcinogen–at levels over 900 times above World Health Organisation’s guidelines, said government has a responsibility to protect lives and must be compelled to care for its citizens.

He noted that it is only in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria that children are inflicted with cancer. According to him, the damage caused by the devastation of the environment due to oil activities is tantamount to sentencing the people to death.

Odinkalu, who asked for a meeting with representatives of Ogoni to proffer means of actualising the implementation of the UNEP report, said such a synergy is required to force action from the Ministries of Environment and Justice.

He cautioned that the destruction of the environment must be viewed as a threat to national security.

Soyinka, who was represented by Dr. Kombo Braide, said slain Ogoni activist, Ken Saro-wiwa “had sought structural guarantees, based on an ecological respect that would preserve his people’s culture – an organic system of co-existence with Nature - and for this he was arraigned on trumped up charges, together with eight of his Ogoni companions, sentenced and hanged on that black November day, while the world reeled in disbelief.”

He described as shameful the existence of hundreds of gas flares, which have been operating unchecked for over half a century and persistent oil spillage in the Niger Delta.

According to him, a recent court judgment in a case against the oil companies declaring that gas flaring violated the rights of the local people is a posthumous vindication of Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots.

“This was a victory of remarkable timing, since it came shortly after the 10th anniversary of the matyrdom of Ken Saro wiwa and his eight companion leaders in the struggle to terminate this very crime. It is a posthumous vindication, but it is also one that places an implicit responsibility on the rest of the nation. Is that responsibility being discharged? Of course not, and this should not be surprising,” he said.