Ogoni: UN Environment Experts to Explore Ogoni Land
Officials of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) would arrive in Ogoniland today for a five-day exploration of the environmental situation of the area.
The visit of UNEP is in response to earlier invitation extended to the organisation by President Olusegun Obasanjo as part of measures to address the degradation of the environment of Ogoniland.
UNEP is a United Nations' agency responsible for monitoring and handling of matters relating to the protection of the environment worldwide.
Facilitator of Ogoni Peace Process, Rev. Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, who disclosed news of the coming of the UN officials, urged the people of Ogoniland to co-operate with them, especially as they have always clamoured for such a development.
"The purpose of this visit is purely technical. It is in response to the appeals made over the years by the Ogoni people for the arrest of the destruction and deterioration of their environment and habitat.
"The visit is to enable UNEP assess and get a first hand idea of the level of destruction of the Ogoni environment. The agency will then draw up a plan of action. This exercise will offer many Ogonis the required expertise and ordinary people job opportunities across the world," Father Kukah said.
He said the UNEP delegation would visit all four local government areas in Ogoniland to ensure transparency, adding that the officials would not only inspect oil spill sites, but also interact with local people and answer all questions that individuals and communities might raise.
According to him, the Shell Petroleum Development Company will bear the cost of the exercise in accordance with internationally recognised Polluter Pays Principle (PPP).
Father Kukah said the principle would enable people whose ancestral lands were destroyed by oil spills to receive compensation for their damaged lands in line with international best practices."Let me restate that, for the avoidance of doubt, my decision to appeal to the president to facilitate this visit is based on the fact that this is what the Ogonis have been asking for all these years and also when they appeared at Oputa Panel.