25 Years After Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Demise, Niger Delta Still Groan Under Environmental Despoilation, Uyi Ojo Laments

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The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has advocated for a United Nations legally binding treaty that will hold multinational companies operating in the Niger Delta region accountable for their human rights violations.

The ERA/FoEN stated that when put in place, such treaty should also ensure access to justice and remedy that is currently a major challenge in developing countries Nigeria inclusive, in their attempt to bring multinational companies to justice.

Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, made the call in a statement made available to newsmen in Benin in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his Ogoni eight activists (sic) who were fighting for environmental justice.

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Dr Uyi lamented that 25 years after Ken Saro-Wiwa and his Ogoni eight activists died in the course of fight for environmental justice, the Niger Delta environment still groan under the severe weight of environmental despoilation, stressing that poverty remains widespread with little or no change on the welfare and livelihoods of the people.

“The systematic failure of oil companies and the Nigerian government to clean up has left hundreds of thousands of Ogoni people facing serious health risks, struggling to access safe drinking water and unable to earn a decent living.

“The commemoration provides the opportunity to highlight the ecological disaster and human rights violations that the entire Niger Delta is still facing even after 25 years Ken Saro-Wiewa was executed, along with 8 other Ogoni leaders for standing up to Shell’s operations in Nigeria.

“In this regard, we
call for a United Nations legally binding treaty to hold multinational companies accountable for their human rights violations.

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“This treaty will also ensure access to justice and remedy that is currently a major challenge in developing countries in their attempt to bring multinational companies to justice,” the Executive Director noted.

While stating that Shell and other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region must be accountable for their human rights violations and the clean up of the pollution in the area, Dr Ojo said the slow clean up of Ogoniland by Nigerian HYPREP was unacceptable.

He emphasised the need for Nigeria to key into the unprecedented momentum for leaving the fossil fuel age behind and embrace a post-petroleum economy devoid of environmental degradation and destruction of lives and property.

“For the Nigerian state, the Hydrocarbon Remediation Project (HYPREP) slow pace of clean up is unacceptable and require improved capcity and restructuring to properly clean up Ogoniland.

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“Nigeria should key into the unprecedented momentum for leaving the fossil fuel age behind ushence the need to embrace decentralized energy democracy model that allows people driven off-grid and mini-grid solar systems for energy access for all,” he said.

On the need for the entire Niger Delta to unite even as the region marks the 25th years of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s demise, Dr Uyi said: “it is time for sober reflections. It is time for forgiveness, healing and unity among the Ogonis especially all the martyrs of the environmental justice struggle. Surely, the collective will of the people shall never be broken.”

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