Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
A group under the aegis of Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI), has accused the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), of misappropriating funds meant for the Ogoni cleanup project.
This is as indigenes of Ogoni all over the world marks the 28th Anniversary of the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others popular referred to as the Ogoni 9 by the General Sani Abacha led military junta.
The group said monies meant for the Ogoni cleanup project which is a benefit of the struggle which lead to the assassination of Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis were being misused by the agency on things outside what was recommended in the United Nations Environmental Report (UNEP).
Chief Executive Officer of OLI, Dr Douglas Fabeke while addressing Ogonis in Bori, headquarters of Khana local council in Rivers State, said Ogonis have suffered so much as a result of the struggle and as such deserves adequate compensation and remediation of their environment in line with the UNEP report.
“We want the clean-up of Ogoniland by ensuring that all the recommendations of UNEP are properly implemented, starting with the emergency measures through the provision of portable drinking water with water treatment plants, provision of health facilities to render free medical care for our people suffering from different kinds of ailment resulting from long years of drinking water from contaminated sources and inhaling air filled with hydro-carbon”.
Commending the former President Muhammadu Buhari for flagging up the implementation of the report, Fabeke regretted that the Ministry of Environment and HYPREP could not carry out a comprehensive cleanup of the environment in line with the UNEP report, saying that they have failed in every measure as far as the process is concerned.
The group however, demanded that the process be reviewed for the cleanup of the environment to be done in line with international standard and best practices.
“We and the entire Ogoni people express our high level of dissatisfaction with the way and manner the funds meant for the clean-up of the Ogoni environment have been misappropriated by HYPREP.
“Available records show that so far, a total sum of $366million has been released to HYPREP for the clean-up of the Ogoni environment. The said sum was released to HYPREP through the Ogoni Trust Fund, which have also been admitted by the management of HYPREP,” he said.
Fabeke also urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a committee to exonerate Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis of the crimes that led to their execution.
“We demand that President Bola Tinubu should quickly set up a legal team to look into the execution of Late Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others to exonerate them from the crime they never committed.
They were only crying against the environmental injustice against the Ogoni people. Mr. President, you have the opportunity to write your name in the book of history by correcting the wrongs done to the Ogoni people, the Niger Delta and other ethnic minorities in Nigeria,” he stated.
Meanwhile, family members of the slain Ogoni 9 have lamented their abandonment by successive governments since the death of their loved ones.
Widow of Mr. Paul Levura, one of the slain Ogonis, Mrs. Charity Levura said she has never been happy since the death of her husband.
“I am not happy since my husband died, I am suffering and begging for alms to feed, so government should help us so that the death of my husband won’t go in vain”, she said.
Also speaking, brother of late John Kpuinen, Deacon Samuel Kpuinen expressed that the death of his brother and other Ogonis seems to be in vain as nothing has improved in Ogoniland.
He said, “My regret is that both the government and the international community has not made the purpose of their death realisable.
“The proceeds from the oil and all what they were agitating for, we have not seen the impact of that on our development as Ogoni is still as it was,” he said.