Port Harcourt — The Conscience of Ogoni People, COOP, has described the recent court judgment regarding the renewal of OML 11 as an indication of the desperation of the Shell Petroleum development Company’s, SPDC, to return to Ogoni at all cost.
The COOP noted that the suit was a sad reminder of the decades of ecological and military tension meted against the Ogoni people since 1958.
Contrary to a commonly held notion, OML 11 straddles fields and facilities from Port Harcourt to Bonny including Ogoni.
In addition to Bonny Terminal, OML 11 comprises 33 oil and gas fields, the Afam VI Power Plant, the Okoloma Integrated Oil and Gas Plant.
SweetcrudeReports’ checks also show that the SPDC residential area, a sprawling living quarters for Nigerian and expatriate staff is also a part and parcel of OML 11.
Over the years, people make the popular mistake of meaning only Ogoni when referring to the entire (that word again) OML 11.
The COOP’s reactions follows a ruling by the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday 23 August 2019 in a matter with suit No: CS/524/19, ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to renew Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC’s lease in OML 11 for 20 years.
Reacting to the Court judgment, the Conscience of Ogoni People, COOP, accused SPDC of desperation to return to Ogoni at all cost through the legal action, saying that the suit was a sad reminder of the decades of ecological and military tension meted against the Ogoni people since 1958.
National Coordinator of COOP, Chief Gani Topba, said the group has been vindicated on SPDC plans to return to Ogoni through the backdoor, following Shell’s legal action on OML11
“Recall that we intimated Ogoni people and the whole world that SPDC applied to then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, for the renewal of OML11. Ogoni people through the Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates, now COOP, opposed vehemently the application and asked the Minister not to renew OML 11 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 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, 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 four decades.
“The natural result of the non-renewal of OML11 for SPDC meant that the lease expired on 30 June 2019 and reverted to the Federal Government of Nigeria. We had already set our agenda to engage the Federal Government on the possibility of returning to the negotiation table with a view to resolving the legacy issues that occasioned the Ogoni agitation.
“SPDC did not give up, but surreptitiously instituted the aforementioned suit in bad faith in order to foist a fait accompli on the Ogoni people. In the suit, SPDC sought an order of court to compel the Minister of Petroleum Resources to renew OML 11 and other OMLs for SPDC.”
Gani Topba accused SPDC of deliberately out to remind the Ogoni people of the dark days of military oppression, genocide, economic strangulation, environmental degradation and execution of Ogoni heroes, Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow martyrs-in-struggle.
He commended the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, which according to him, has continued to show compassion to the Ogoni cause by resisting the pressure mounted by SPDC and Royal Dutch Shell Plc to renew OML11 and stood on the side of justice, fairness and respect for the lives and environment of the Ogoni people.
“Recall that the officials of SPDC have consistently stated publicly that SPDC is no longer interested in a return to Ogoniland.
“The present suit has vindicated the position of the Ogoni people and COOP that SPDC is still a huge fan of the Ogoni oil, a shylock multinational and an irresponsible corporate citizen that will go to any length, to have its way at the expense of the peace, happiness, life, health, well-being 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.
“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 grand design to decimate the Ogoni population, impoverish them, destroy their livelihoods and economy and render their environment an ecological wreck.”