From: TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Hundreds of Ogoni people in Rivers State, on Wednesday, staged a peaceful demonstration and paralysed business activities at the office of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in Port Harcourt, the Rivers States capital.
The protesters, who included members of a group known as the Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates (KSA), and other residents of Ogoni, blocked the entrance to the premises of NNPC, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), demanding that the planned resumption of oil exploration in Ogoniland should be stopped.
Speaking while handing a copy of petition for the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Dr. Maitanti Baru, leader of the protest and Coordinator of KSA, Chief. Gani Topba, said the people came out in their numbers to show total rejection of the planned oil exploration in their land.
Topba condemned the alleged issuance of license to operate OML11 to one Robo Michael Limited to resume exploration in Ogoniland, and called for the sack of the NNPC GMD for the attempt to ignite fresh crisis in Ogoni.
He said: “The Ogoni people have come out in their numbers to register their case to the government on how their case can be resolved. In 2012, NNPC had agreement with Shell on OML11 and Shell said they have transferred OML11 licence to NNPC.
“In 2017, NNPC through NPDC, issued a legal license to Robo Michael and we have written Senate, House of Representatives, Security agencies and we want that decision to be reversed before January 4, 2018.
“If they don’t do it, we will mobilise our people to NNPC Towers, in Abuja, for protest so that international community will know we are peaceful in our agitations. Twenty years ago, our people quitted Shell from Ogoni. But, today, NNPC, Shell and Robo Michael want to pass through the back door to resume operation in Ogoniland. It will not work.
“What we are demanding is that the license issued to Robo Michael to operate OML11 should be retrieved. We want President Muhammadu Buhari to revoke Shell license on OML11. He should also sack the NNPC GMD because he has done what is capable of igniting crisis in Ogoni”, Topba stressed.
The coordinator of the group further alleged that there was genocide committed against the people of Ogoni, adding that the pollution of their water and the entire environment by oil spills, has been claiming lives.
He continued, “There is genocide in Ogoni because our water has been destroyed. The UNEP report has been abandoned. The highest event we have today is burial.
“We are demand that every Ogoni son in the Governing Council and Board of Trustee of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), should resign within 14 days.
Meanwhile, a member of the management team of NNPC in Port Harcourt, who received the protest letter from the protesters, who gave his name simply as Engr. Bob-Manuel, promised that the issues raised would be communicated to the Corporation’s head office, in Abuja.