The National Union of Ogoni Students International (NUOS) and Ogoni Live Matter International (OLM), among others have urged the federal government to probe the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
The groups also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to remove HYPREP’S National Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, accusing him of fraudulent practices and failure to adhere to the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
In a statement by NUOS President, Mr. Pius Nwinee and OML’s Coordinator, Mr. Cornelius Dumerene, the groups commended the recent pronouncement of the federal government to restructure the remediation project.
The statement asked the federal government to ensure smooth collaboration, enlightenment, education and proper remediation campaign awareness between Ogoni and HYPREP in order to achieve the objectives of the project.
It recommended that credible environmental engineers and professionals from Ogoniland be interviewed for the position of national coordinator to replace Dekil, to alleviate the tremendous suffering and setback that the project had suffered.
The groups described the call for restructuring by the Minister for the Environment, Dr. Muhammad Mahmoud as a step in the right direction.
The statement noted that restructuring alone would not cushion the harm and damage HYPREP’s corruption and incompetence had caused the area.
The statement demanded that an immediate compensation “should be given to those whose lives have been impaired, livelihood destroyed, and historical heritage damaged, due to the devastated environment.”
The statement lamented every fraud that makes headlines in HYPREP, whether refusal to adhere to UNEP recommendations, or financial marketing of $380 million without proper disclosure of N3.2bn dividend from private or group business trading on Lagos stock market as speculated.
“There is no proper accountability. Reflecting on this poor abuse and misuse of public trust, we demand an immediate forensic audit of HYPREP and those found culpable be prosecuted under the unblinking eyes of the law.”
It commended the proposal of the federal government “to reposition and upgrade HYPREP, but also notes that HYPREP’s failures were not only corruption.”
More importantly, however, the statement claimed that HYPREP failure “is driven by lack of professionalism, technical skill, and technology to handle such monumental degradation.”
It urged the federal government “to contract an international company with capable professional and technical know-how to supervise, monitor and handle the entire cleaning with best practices in collaboration with HYPREP.
“Ogoni is within her rights, and the federal government has a duty of care to protect Ogoni land and Ogoni people from HYPREP and Shell’s fraud to enrich themselves at the expense of Ogoni lives.”