A former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, has dragged the Federal and Rivers State governments before the United Nations, over the confiscation of $300million compensation funds released for the people of Ogoni over the oil deposit in their land.

Pyagbara who is also the Executive Director of the African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development (AIFES), stated this while addressing the 54th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

The event is the ongoing 54th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the highest arm of the United Nations that deals with issues of human rights violations across the world. 

The month-long meeting began on September 11 and will end on October 13, 2023.

Pyagbara alleged that the $300 million was released by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in early 2023 as compensation to the people of Ogoni and was being withheld by the Rivers State Government.

The former MOSOP leader called on the United Nations to take every necessary step to ensure that the money is paid to the Ogoni people, stressing that the current situation in Ogoniland resonates with the report of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, EMRIP on Militarization, Investment and Threats.

The Ogoni leader also accused the federal government of failing to launch investigations into the killing of over 5, 000 Ogoni sons and daughters by the military, and refusing to pay reparations for the lives that were lost due to the militarisation of Ogoniland.

He said: “The case of Ogoni people came into limelight in 1995, with the hanging of the leader of Ogoni and Environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists by the Nigerian government to protect the interest of Shell and their collaborators in Nigeria.

“The Nigerian government has not opened an investigation into the killing of 5,000 Ogoni persons in the period when Ogoniland was militarized, leading to the killing of Ogoni nine and thereafter.

“The reparation programmes even as recommended by the UN Secretary General’s Fact-finding Team to Ogoni, has not been done to the Ogoni people even at this moment. The expert mechanism report highlighted reparation as one way to provide any redress.

“I urged the UN Human Rights Council to prevail on the Nigerian government led by President Bola Tinubu, to release the sum of $300 million paid by NNPC Limited, through NPDC, as compensation to the people of Ogoni which is currently being held by the Rivers State Government.”

He urged the United Nations to blacklist governments and companies involved in militarizing indigenous people and territories with grave consequences on human rights and livelihoods.

Pyagbara also called for the blacklisting and denouncing of states, companies and governments involved in militarisation as a tool for climate change mitigation.

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