The Conscience of Ogoni People (COOP), has kicked against the judgment on the 20 years renewal of operatorship of Oil Mining Lease (OML)-11 in Ogoniland, by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC).
The group further urged President Muhammadu Buhari, as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, to appeal the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, dated 23 August 2019, without delay.
Reacting to the court judgement in statement signed by the National Coodinator, COOP, Chief Gani Topba, the group added that they have instructed their legal team to study the judgment with a view to initiating necessary and appropriate steps to appeal against the judgment as interested party.
The statement read in part: “The attention of the Conscience of Ogoni People (COOP), has been drawn to the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered on Friday 23 August 2019, in the matter between President Muhammadu Buhari as the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC).
“In the said matter with Suit No: CS/524/19, the Federal High Court ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to renew SPDC’s lease in OML 11 for 20 years.
“Recall that we intimated Ogoni people and the whole world that SPDC applied to the then Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (HMSPR), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, for the renewal of OML 11. Ogoni people through the Ken Saro Wiwa Associates (KSWA); now COOP, opposed vehemently the application and asked the HMSPR not to renew OML for SPDC.
“Our opposition was premised on the ground that SPDC breached the terms and conditions in its OML 11 lease, especially provisions requiring the lessee to adopt good oilfield practice in the operation of the lease.
“We cited copiously portions of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report which indicted SPDC and confirmed that SPDC fell squarely below Nigerian standards throughout the about 40 years it operated the block, let alone international standards recommended by the Mineral Oils (Safety) Regulations 1997.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, listened to the plea of the Ogoni people and rejected the application for renewal after considering the travails of the Ogoni people in the hand of SPDC for the past 4 decades.
“We, however, salute the courage of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari which has continued to show compassion to the Ogoni cause, by resisting the pressure mounted by SPDC and Royal Dutch Shell Plc to renew OML 11 and stood on the side of justice, fairness and respect for the lives and environment of the Ogoni people.
“On our part, we declare our solidarity for the Federal Government of Nigeria and urge it to appeal the said judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja dated 23 August 2019 without delay. We have instructed our legal team to study the judgment with a view to initiating necessary and appropriate steps to appeal against the judgment as interested party.
“Our position is that the judgment is an open invitation for SPDC to complete its agenda of genocide against the Ogoni people for 20 years which should not be allowed to stand. As believers in the rule of law who have utmost respect for the court as the bastion of hope for the common man, we believe that the Court of Appeal will vindicate the Ogoni people and the Federal Government by setting aside the judgment of the Federal High Court.
“We reiterate that SPDC remains persona non grata in Ogoniland, and that the Ogoni people will continue to non-violently resist every clandestine and back-door tactics adopted by SPDC in its bid to actualize its grant design to decimate the Ogoni population, impoverish them, destroy their livelihoods and economy and render their environment an ecological wreck.
“We call on Ogoni people to be resolute and steadfast as we shall collectively mobilize our people to non-violently and peacefully fight for our rights as indigenous people recognized under international law and we shall win.
“We call on our friends and the international community to continue to support our agitation for Ogoni liberation. We have alerted Amnesty International, the International Criminal Court (ICC), friends of Ogoni international, the Niger Delta people and men of goodwill all over the world to keep an eye on developments in Nigeria, particularly with respect to the desperate scheme of SPDC to re-enter Ogoniland against the wishes of the people.
“We call on them to hold SPDC and Royal Dutch Shell Plc responsible should any harm come to any section of the Ogoni population who are peacefully asserting their legitimate rights.”