By Akanimo Sampson
MORE than 20 years after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eightotherof his kinsmen by the late General Sani Abacha military dictatorship, the Ogoni axis of Rivers State in Southern Nigeria, is on the boil again.
This time, their angst is targeted at the unprovoked military attacks in their communities.
The Ogoni people exploded on the Nigerian national scene in 1993, when they rose massively to protest against continued environmental terrorism by the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas super major, Shell. Their mass protest led to the execution of Saro-Wiwa and others by the obviously repressive Nigerian state.
Ogoni is easily the worse oil pollution site in the world today. Findings and report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is mind-blowing. While the pollution crisis is yet to be tackled by government, attacks by the armed security forces, are fueling fresh unease in Ogoni.
Their mass movement, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has warned that they will take all peaceful and non-violent steps to seek redress if government fails to respond positively to their petition.
Bari-ara Kpalap, MOSOP’s Media/Public Affairs Advisor, told this reporter on Thursday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital city, that they sent a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, the Chief of Army Staff and the National Human Rights Commission on ”the murderous and unprovoked military invasion of Ogoni communities occasioning wanton loss of lives and properties”.
Their petition however, insists that the incidents were no response to any crisis whatsoever in the area as none existed, expressed dismay at the tactics and callousness with which the Yeghe, Bori/Zaakpon operations were executed stressing that it demonstrated dreadful extremism and sinister motive.
“Besides the deployment of military hardware including tanks and so many combatants as if they were in war with another country, they deliberately fired at business premises, pupils and students and other crowded areas. And at the end of the operation, many innocent natives and residents were murdered in cold blood and properties destroyed or looted,” MOSOP lamented.
MOSOP also insisted that the military campaign violated all known rules of engagement as well as infringed on the human rights of the people including the inalienable right of the victims to life.
It called on the federal government and the military hierarchy to withdraw the army of occupation from all Ogoni communities immediately so that our people can return home.
“This is more so as our fathers, mothers and youths are in bushes hiding from the terror of the military. And the psychological implications of this ugly development on the people are not only enormous but devastating,” the petition also stated.
MOSOP is also calling on the Nigerian government and the other institutions conduct a high powered probe into the unfortunate military campaign with the view to bringing the perpetrators to injustice.