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We'll Resist Ogoni Land Grabbing--MOSOP

We'll Resist Ogoni Land Grabbing--MOSOP

THE Ogoni people of Rivers State, have vowed that they will resist by all available legal means any large scale aquisition of their for whatever project even for the relocation of a military facility.

At their Crisis Management meeting held in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on the platform of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), on Thursday night, they reiterated their opposition to ''land grabbing'' in their area whether intended for relocation of a military barracks, agricultural estate or for whatever purpose.

MOSOP Information Officer, Mr. Bari-ara Kpalap, told AkanimoReports that the Ogoni people have frowned seriously at the deployment of scores of fiercesome and fully armed soldiers to the proposed site of the land to be acquired.

According to the Ogoni group, ''these armed military men molest and intimidate local farmers while forcefully surveying the farmlands. The heavy presence of men of the Nigerian army supervising and shielding the survey work provides clearest evidence yet that the forceful acquisition of the land from local communities is in preparation for the relocation of a military base from Port Harcourt to Ogoni.

''The areas earmarked for the controversial project covering over 100,000 hectres span across communities in Tai and Khana Local Government areas. We are calling on government to rescind the decision''.

They said the current approach in their view, ''smacks of a sinister motive by government and a Shell to achieve through deception what could not be procured openly. Wise counsel and interventions including those that border on the question of the livelihood of the people have been deliberately ignored. We are concerned that government appears unmindful and insensitive to the huge implications its going ahead with this dangerous plan would inflict on the people of Ogoni''.

Ogoni is a small place with a high population density (about 1,250 persons per sq mile - one of the highest in Africa) and faces severe challenges arising from increasing demand by our growing population for land especially agricultural and residential purposes.

Continuing, MOSOP said, ''to undertake further land grabbing of this magnitude in Ogoni in whatever guise condemns Ogoni, a predominantly farming community yet to recover from earlier land seizures by government, and despoliation of the environment by oil extraction, would aggravate poverty and death by installment. Any new acquisition would adversely affect food production, increase poverty and crime, and generate unmanageable migration''.

Presently, Ogoni communities provide space and accommodation to more that its fair share of military and paramilitary facilities and large scale government owned farm estates. There are three big military and paramilitary facilities at Onne (Naval College and Barracks), Nonwa (Police Training College) and Saakpenwaa (MOPOL 56) and five extensive government owned farm estates at Bunu, Bori, Kpong, Okwale and Kpaa in Eleme, Tai and Khana local government areas respectively.

The Ogoni people said they are not deceived by galleged overnment’s antics, pointing out, ''the point remains that whether the controversial land acquisition is for large scale agriculture or otherwise, Ogoni cannot afford to part with such amount of land without compromising her survival. A recently released report of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) shows it is small scale (subsistence) farming that feeds the world and not large scale farming''.

According to them, Article 30 (i) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that, “military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned”. Besides, the affected people are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea.

Mr. Kpalap, told AkanimoReports that information available to MOSOP points to a huge conspiracy occasioning the current sad developments.

But, while the Nigerian Army appears to have no strategic reason to warrant the relocation of the Port Harcourt Cantonment alias Bori camp to Ogoni, useful evidences strengthen fears that the slick alliance between Shell and the state, is at play.

''The calculation we have uncovered, is that with a military barracks in the heart of Ogoni, the people would be sufficiently cowed to submission, which would facilitate Shell’s commencement oil production without a negotiated agreement with the people. Already state officials testing the waters have publicly accused Ogoni of blocking oil extraction thus stalling improvements in the state’s revenue standing'', the MOSOP spokesman said.

''If the government actually requires land for agricultural development in Ogoni, it should look at the existing farm estates that have failed woefully. But, if the government requires land for relocation of Bori Camp military facility from Port Harcourt it would serve her very well to look elsewhere because Ogoni would resist it through every lawful means'', they argued.

Meanwhile MOSOP says they will be holding theuir National Congress this weekend, to discuss ''critical issues'' affecting the Ogoni people and call on all sons and daughters of Ogoni attend. ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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