Late Ken Saro Wiwa
By Muhammad Bello
The Ogoni community of River State has again moved against what it described as the environmental degradation of the area by oil giant Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). But the environmental activists and hundreds of protesting Ogoni people who marched on the Industrial Area of the SPDC met the gate of the company shut.
Vehicular movement came to an abrupt standstill around Rumoumasi area of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where SPDC office is situated as protesters waving placards with various inscriptions such as: “Shell clean up Niger Delta”, “Implement UNEP report”, “Ogoni say no to Shell”, stormed the entrance of the Anglo-Dutch multinational oil giant. Security men where quickly deployed to the area.
Celestine AkpoBari, the National Coordinator of Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF), told journalists that “we are on the street again to draw attention of the world to the devastation of the Niger Delta environment.
There is pollution everywhere and nobody is doing anything about it. All over the world, today is a day set aside for the Niger Delta, which is why we are on the street again.”
“We will continue to protest until we do something stupid. We are trying to be very peaceful for now but I assure you we are going to do something very stupid very soon,” AkpoBari added.
In its protest letter, jointly signed by Amnesty International, Center for Environment among others, the protesters urged the oil company and the federal government to respond quickly to the plight of the Ogoni people by cleaning up every site of oil spill in the Niger Delta.
“We the undersigned organisations and residents of Nigeria’s oil affected communities are today staging a peaceful demonstration outside Shell’s offices in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to highlight the devastating human rights and environmental impact of the oil company’s operations in the Niger Delta. We are calling on Shell to own up, pay up and clean up the Niger Delta.”
“The government of Nigeria has failed to enforce existing laws and regulations to prevent pollution and hold the oil industry to account, meaning they are freely flouted by companies like Shell without any concern for the consequences,” the protesters said.
The SPDC kept mum while the protest lasted. The protesters after a while got fed up and dropped their placards and a copy of the protest letter at the company closed gate and marched on.