Ogoni: Demolition of the Agip Shanty Towns
“We believe well over 5,000 people have been displaced in an exercise which dwarves the impact of any of the clashes between militias and government in this region,” said Anyakwe Nsirimovu of the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.
‘We are appealing to State government and the immediate neighbour of the community, Agip, to respond to the plight of some of the poorest people in Port Harcourt who have seen their homes, churches and schools demolished over the past few days. There should be an immediate suspension of the demolition and a joint effort to identify options to protect the vulnerable and impoverished.”
“It is outrageous that we must make this appeal on behalf
of the poorest people in the state on the day after State government representatives
have been celebrating with champagne the purchase of a corporate jet for Rivers
“When our observers visited the site on Friday and Saturday we were told this demolition is part of the urban renewal of Port Harcourt. We are distressed that this ‘urban renewal’ does not seem to take into account the rights of people who are already living in desperate circumstances. Observers who consulted local people and government officials found no arrangements for compensation or assistance had been made for people who had resided there in conditions of poverty for up to fifteen years.
“We are aware that MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People) has made appeals to both Agip and the State Government over this matter and that some assurances may have even been made by the Governor. We would urge them to respond formally to MOSOP and we ask all people of goodwill to impress on the State government and Agip the need to act immediately.
We are distressed by the attitude of the Nigeria Agip Oil Company
(NAOC) who despite quite serious allegations regarding their own interests in
this matter have made absolutely no response to a massive displacement of people
living on their fenceline .
“We appeal to Agip to demonstrate that their claim to be a socially responsible company has some meaning in the face of thousands of refugees being generated on their very doorstep. In the absence of action we will be taking every conceivable step to inform Agip’s owners and customers of the company’s position on this matter.
“We hope that Agip and the State government can appreciate that many of the people in the waterside have been forced there through no fault of their own. There are Ogoni refugees in this population who have been there since the brutal military occupation of the Ogoni area between 1994 and 1998.
“These people have tried to go on with their lives on marginal land, building churches and schools for their children and they are now being forced out of an area which some of them have lived in for fifteen years with no apparent plan for their relocation or recongintion of their circumatances.
“Finally, we call on all civil society in Nigeria and the international community to impress on the Rivers State government and Agip the need to respond in a manner which will correct the impression that this is a heartless and cruel government.
Anyakwe Nsirimovu, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Bari ara Kpalap, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People
Patrick Naagbanton, Niger Delta project for Environment, Human Rights and Development
Jim Dorgu, Ijaw Council for Human Rights