Nigeria Village $1B Suit against Shell in US Rejected
The lawsuit in Detroit in the United States of America is something that the Ogoni people did not expect. Yet, it is the Ogoni people it is meant to benefit. It is the position of the Ogoni people that the lawsuit is a foreign legal adventure, and Ogoni people cannot jubilate over it.
“I think these Detroit lawyers in the United States who filed the case on behalf of the group of villagers in Ogale in Ogoniland think that they are really smart. This is a chance for them to be in the limelight because this is such an important case, it being the largest clean up ever on the planet. But they cannot do it at the expense of the Ogoni people, who might not know everything that is at stake, and certainly, not familiar with the implications of this imposed lawsuit that will take decades to end,” said MOSOP President and Spokesman, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo.
Diigbo said while MOSOP conviction continues to focus on human rights protection and safety of the environment, there are politicians and NGOs in Nigeria who see the UNEP Ogoniland Environmental Assessment Report as a basis to make quick money, instead of a proper study to remedy the damage. It is suggested that the lawsuit filed by some lawyers in Detroit in the United States of America uses a recent United Nations report over widespread pollution in Ogoniland area for much of its evidence.
Diigbo said that MOSOP Secretariat has received reports that since August 4, 2011; the day UNEP issued its disputed Environmental Assessment Report on Ogoniland; several Ogoni villagers have been approached by individuals and NGOs from outside Ogoniland to sign forms in order to start lawsuits against Shell. MOSOP will challenge individuals trying to take advantage of the tragedy the Ogoni people,” Diigbo warned, but however said that: “it is important that Ogoni people resist temptation to sign up for this kind of awkward lawsuit and deception no matter the promises presented to them.” Other Ogonis have been asked to sign forms to be selected as sub-contractors to handle the clean-up of Ogoniland and for protection of some unknown pipelines.
The Ogale villagers are opportunistic individuals opposed to MOSOP in Ogale village, and while acting as government agents, persecuted MOSOP activists and kicked against MOSOP demand for Environmental Impact Assessment Study. The lawyers never contacted MOSOP that initiated the demand for a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment Study (EIAS) of Ogoniland. Diigbo was reacting to issues raised about the lawsuit during a meeting at Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Grave Garden, Bane in Ken Khana Kingdom on Thursday. At the meeting which was part of preparatory sessions for this year’s Anniversary in remembrance of the hanging of nine Ogoni activists on November 10, 1995 who supported the call for the scrutiny of oil operations in Ogoniland, particularly the EIAS. “Let’s focus on the collective good and get ready for the 16th memorial anniversary of people like you that kept the faith as we march to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Peace and Freedom Center, Bori on November 10, 2011,” Diigbo said trying to calm the Ogoni people who viewed the lawsuit as greatly offensive.
When the report was released MOSOP rejected it and called for: Due process test; 2. Neutrality and impartiality test; Integrity test, and to: Reconcile with World Bank EIA policy, UNEP procedures and Nigerian Government regulations. MOSOP independent experts who reviewed the report doubts its thoroughness and fear damage has been underestimated, but they said follow-up scientific for verification purposes would require missing information for questions raised by the report. The experts said the report is biased against victims of oil operations. Diigbo said MOSOP has called for all stakeholders meeting, including the government, Shell and UNEP to find a way forward. But the Ogoni people will not wait forever, without appropriate action to defend and protect their indigenous rights.