THE United Nations (UN) and the international community have been implored to prevail on the Federal Government to protect the environmental and human rights of the Ogoni people by implementing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoni land.
The Congress of Ogoni People, which is the highest policy organ of Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), made this appeal in a memorandum submitted to the United States House of Representatives committee’s special hearing on the environmental degradation in Ogoni and Niger Delta yesterday.
In a joint statement endorsed by the Chairman, MOSOP Provisional Council, Prof. Ben Naanen and nine others, the Ogoni Congress called upon the UN and the international community to also insist that in implementing the UNEP report, the Nigerian government must ensure that the Ogoni people are duly consulted.
They added that the decision of Ogoni people to approach the U.S. congress was predicated on the failure of the Federal Government to commence the implementation of the UNEP report, which revealed extensive devastation of Ogoni environment by oil companies.
It added: “Considering the environmental devastation of Ogoni caused by oil exploration and its impact on the economic and social life of the Ogoni people, and realising the Federal Government’s concern about the situation as expressed in the invitation to the UNEP to do a scientific study of the Ogoni environment, and having accepted the UNEP report, the Ogoni Congress is deeply concerned by the failure of the government to implement the report nearly one year after its release and, therefore, calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to commence the implementation of the UNEP report.”
In implementing the UNEP report, the congress said Ogoni people, as the presumed primary beneficiaries of the proposed clean-up programme, must be consulted in accordance with the doctrine of prior, free and informed consent, in order to address issues of corporate social responsibility and the requirements of Nigeria’s Local Content Act.
They said such consideration would enable the Ogoni people to be given first consideration in the distribution of the economic and social benefits of the clean-up and ameliorate the dire poverty and hopelessness in Ogoniland.