The apex organisation of the Ogoni people, MOSOP, is outraged and condemns in strong terms the invasion of Ogoni communities by the Nigerian military and demand from government the immediate withdrawal of the invading soldiers.
Reports available to MOSOP have shown that rather than end the condemnable campaign, the military has this morning (23/2/2016) extended the violence to Bori, shooting indiscriminately and advancing into adjoining communities including Zaakpon. The shooting, which is on-going had saddeningly seen to the cold blooded murder of innocent persons, infliction of serious gunshot injuries on others, paralysis of activities in the Ogoni capital and its environs as well as arbitrary arrests thereby forcing natives and residents to flee to safety.
The soldiers had on February 22 violently invaded Yeghe community in Gokana local government area of Ogoni, Rivers State occasioning the killing of three (3) innocent natives including Saturday Gbarazia, inflicted severe gunshot injuries on other victims, whose health conditions are said to be very critical; destroyed properties and made arbitrary arrests.
Similarly, the military aided by one notorious Isaac Obe had raided Alode in Eleme local government area on Friday, 19th February, 2016 occasioning torture and arbitrary arrest of victims, destruction of properties belonging to Messrs. Ndo Chizor, John Saloka and others.
We consider as extremely disappointing and unfortunate these unprovoked military violence against our people, which betrays repressively sinister motive and reminiscent of our sad past. We find it difficult to rationalise the wisdom in this military campaign, cruelly motivated by hidden and evil intent. No matter what may be adduced to have informed this appalling military approach, violence in our view, cannot provide the necessary solution to civil issues but dialogue.
Insofar as we are concerned, we are not in a military state neither are we in a state of war that should warrant such degree of military violence. It is shocking and smacks of hate and callousness that in a democratic dispensation, which requires proper civil conduct on the part of all including the military, such level of military hardware including tanks will be deployed to purely harmless civilian communities in a matter that has not been well substantiated.
The military must therefore tread causciously and maintain its independence and professionalism as well as resist attempts by desperate politicians to drag them into the murky waters of politics including being used to commit human rights abuses.
Facts abound that Ogoni had made enormous sacrifices including paying the supreme price for the rebirth and sustenance of the current democracy. We have thus expected that we would be treated fairly and not turning our communities into theatres of violence and killing fields.
It appears to us that this devious campaign may be aimed at creating an unconducive atmosphere in the area to frustrate the planned Ogoni environmental remediation and restoration project billed to commence in the first quarter of this year.
We are therefore passionately calling on all men of goodwill including the international community to prevail on Abuja to withdraw soldiers from Ogoni and stop further violence against our people.
For obvious reasons, we would be protesting the unprovoked violation of the inalienable rights of our people including the right to life to the United Nations, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation and Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission.
At this crucial moment, we call on the Ogoni people to remain calm and resist the temptation to take laws into their hands. We will continue to monitor the situation and report appropriately.
Publicity Secretary, MOSOP
23 February, 2016