According to reports, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has condemned the illegal demolition in Akpajo-Ogoni in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
It described as unacceptable, the demolition of residential and commercial houses at Akpajo-Ogoni by officials of the Rivers Ministry of Urban Development, under the guise of an indefensible excuse of encroachment on Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited’s (SPDC’s) pipelines’ right of way.
MOSOP, in an online statement Wednesday by its Media/Public Affairs Advisor, Bari-ara Kpalap, demanded the immediate halt to the unlawful demolition and the withdrawal from the community of the persons involved.
Addressing a crowd of victims of the demolition yesterday at the MOSOP secretariat in Port Harcourt, the President of the Ogoni umbrella organisation, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, expressed disappointment over the ugly development.
Pyagbara said: “While I entreat you to remain peaceful and law abiding, I must not fail to express my disappointment at the approach of the Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development, which without any prior official notice to the people, stormed the community with bulldozers, under the shield of sophisticatedly armed security operatives, including soldiers and riot policemen and commenced demolition of homes. The exercise no doubt, violates the right of the victims to shelter, protected by our laws and other international instruments.
“The criminal manner with which the entire thing has been handled, especially the failure to allow a period of grace, is unfair and suspect. It appears some criminals with great political clout may have influenced this controversial demolition. This is more so as the pipeline in question is owned and managed by the oil giant (SPDC). I therefore find it difficult to rationalise why the ministry would be the institution to demolish ‘structures’ allegedly built on Shell’s pipelines right of way, instead of the transnational corporation.
“In view of the current economic difficulties being faced by citizens, owing to the present recession, one would have expected that government would treat issues concerning government and citizens’ relationship with human face. It is unacceptable that while there are pillars demarcating the pipelines and built-up areas, and the people had lived there since the 1980s, state officials would invade and demolish community homes without any recourse to civilise civil methodology and respect for international human rights law, which guarantees the protection of the rights of all citizens, including squatters.”
The MOSOP president also admonished the victims of the demolition to remain calm and not to take the law into their own hands, while urging Governor Nyesom Wike to call to order, officials of the Rivers ministry of urban development.