Port Harcourt — The Conscience of Ogoni People, has commended the Nigerian Judiciary on the judgement against the renewal of OML11 license for the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC.
This is as the Court of Appeal recently set aside an earlier judgement of the Federal High Court which ordered the Federal Government to renew SPDC’s lease in OML11 for another 20 years.
The Court of Appeal in reversing the lower court on the issue of renewal held that the Minister of Petroleum Resources has discretion under the Petroleum Act to renew or decline to accede to the application for grant of a renewal of an oil mining lease by an applicant.
The Court of Appeal further held that the decision of the Minister of Petroleum Resources not to renew OML 11 for the SPDC was in order, valid and cannot be questioned.
Reacting on the development, COOP said that by reversing the lower court order, the court has demonstrated they were, indeed, the last hope of the common man.
National Leader of the group, Chief Gani Topba, also commended the Federal Government for listening to the plea of the people and taking the decision not to renew OML 11 for the SPDC.
Topba said the judgment has effectively brought to an end the hold of SPDC over OML11 (Ogoni Fields) which has lasted for over six decades, beginning from 1958.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, and all stakeholders who took the decision not to renew OML11 for SPDC.
“We thank them all for the victory recorded today through our collective efforts. We also commend the resourcefulness and forthrightness of the Nigerian Judiciary which by today’s judgment has reinforced our belief that the Judiciary is indeed the last home of the common man.
“We are excited because the exit of SPDC from Ogoniland which was foretold by our hero, Ken Saro-Wiwa, has been actualized in our lifetime and through the collective sacrifice of Ogoni people. As at today, all rights and interests in and over OML 11 (Ogoni fields) have reverted to the Federal Government.
“We have already set our agenda for a robust engagement with the Federal Government of Nigeria on the possibility of returning to the negotiation table with a view to resolving the legacy issues that occasioned the Ogoni agitation.
“We trust the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately open lines of communication with Ogoni leaders of thought with a view to commencing preliminary talks.”
“We are very optimistic that the exit of the SPDC will open new vistas towards unleashing the full oil and gas potentials of the Ogoni fields and its development in a transparent and environmentally sound manner for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“On behalf of the Ogoni people, we wish to state that never again shall we allow any lessee or operator of OML 11 (Ogoni fields) to impoverish our people, destroy our livelihoods and economy and render our environment an ecological wasteland by adopting bad oilfield practice in the development of the Ogoni oil block.”
The also appealed to Ogoni people to give the Federal Government the necessary support and opportunity to right the wrongs of the past, through a transparent dialogue, collaboration and inclusion in the development of OML 11.
“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 recognised under international law and we shall win.”