Hundreds of Ogoni youths yesterday barricaded the Akpajo-Eleme axis of the East-West road that leads to the Port Harcourt Refinery, Indorama Petrochemicals and the Onne Free Trade Zone.
The youths, who were protesting under the aegis of the Ogoni Central Indigenous Authority, expressed dissatisfaction that the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari was not carrying them along in the proposed implementation of the UNEP Report in Ogoniland.
The protest, which began at about 7am, caused a gridlock along the portion of the East-West road as motorists had to wait for more than an hour to leave the area.
They (youths) specifically demanded that they should be part of the ongoing dialogue on the modalities implementing UNEP’s recommendations on the clean-up of Ogoniland.
Spokesman for the group, who identified himself as Dumbari Boodam, said any attempt to ostracise them from the Ogoni clean-up process would cause trouble in the land.
Boodam, who said he was speaking on behalf of their leader, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, explained that the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People was not working in the interest of Ogoni people.
He stated that MOSOP was politicising the issue of the implementation of the UNEP Report, saying, “We want to be carried along in the process of the implementation of UNEP Report.
“Failure by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to carry the group along will cause problem in Ogoniland. As far as we are concerned, MOSOP is not working in the interest of Ogoni people.”
In response, MOSOP condemned the protest, describing it as an ill-informed and unwarranted demonstration by a faceless group.
MOSOP said through the Media Advisor to its President, Mr. Bari-ara Kpalap, cautioned Ogoni people and members of the public to ignore the group, adding that the protesters were being manipulated to draw Ogoni back.
It further warned that the people of Ogoni would deal decisively with anybody attempting to truncate their efforts relating to the smooth implementation of recommendations of the UNEP environmental assessment report on Ogoniland.
“Reports available to MOSOP have revealed that the demonstrators mischievously claimed that they were protesting exclusion from the UNEP report implementation process.
“We condemn the action and reject the reason adduced, which smacks of desperation. As far as we are concerned, the protesters and their sponsors, who have earlier declared an unrecognised ‘Ogoni self-government’ are drowned in ignorance and dubiously seeking relevance and should be discountenanced.
“Negotiation, we all know, is always done on a representative capacity and not by the entire community, organisation or institution. In this case, all strata of the Ogoni society were fully represented in the multi-stakeholder engagement processes occasioning the President Mohammadu Buhari-led Federal Government’s approval of actions to fast-track implementation of recommendations of the UNEP report on Ogoniland.
“In fact, two prominent sons and a daughter of Ogoni, namely, Professor Ben Naanen, HRH Mene Suanu T.Y. Baridam, and Professor Roseline Konya chaired three out of the four working groups during the engagements. And the truth remains that the outcome of the engagements has been hailed in Ogoni and beyond,” MOSOP stated.
It pointed out that the sponsors of the demonstration erroneously believed that the five-year take-off grant of $5 billion for the implementation of the report was up for grab, adding that the sponsors of the protest were also involved in circulating falsehood to the people of Ogoni.
MOSOP also explained that those behind Monday’s demonstration on East-West road were also engaged in swindling unsuspecting Ogoni people through the sale of fake recruitment and qualification forms at the rate of N3,000 each.
“It is a shame that whilst well-meaning Ogoni sustained efforts for the implementation of the report in view of the fact that the report passed a death sentence on Ogoni and the community has been harvesting deaths and suffering severe livelihood challenges, this fake group refused to identify with the people.
“Instead, they busied themselves with steps to dismember Nigeria and actually declared a so-called ‘Ogoni self-government’, which contradicted the collective position of our people as enunciated in the Ogoni Bill of Rights,” MOSOP added