From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
An ethnic organization, Conscience of Ogoni People, formerly known as Ken Saro Wiwa Associates, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency set up a special task force to tackle the violence and insecurity ongoing in Ogoniland, in Rivers State.
In six pages open letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the organization led by its Leader/Spokesman, Chief Gani Topba, maintained that until there is a swift action by the federal government, Ogoni people may not be free from cult related violence.
According to Chief Topba, aside the clamour for Ogoni rights for resume operation of natural resources in the area, the ethnic nationality has suffered so many deaths from cult related activities. He said in the process of cult clash, properties have been damaged and so many communities sacked.
He recalled that it took the effort of a Joint security team to return peace in some areas of Ogoniland, pleading that the rate of killing and maiming in the area by different cult groups has increased, hence the need for federal government intervention.
Topba said “We wish to bring to Your Excellency’s attention the sudden resurgence of violent crimes which has engulfed Ogoniland in recent times, particularly between February and May 2020. There has been unusual intensity in cult clashes and counter-cult clashes which have consumed countless Ogonis – mostly youths in their primes – leaving on their trails colossal destruction of properties and the sack of countless communities.
“Against the foregoing background, we request Your Excellency to direct the Chief of Army Staff and other service chiefs to swing into action by drafting a special Joint Task Force to Ogoniland to uproot and dislodge the criminal elements as well as to mop up all illegal arms currently in circulation in order to restore peace and security to Ogoniland for the greater good of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We believe that the grave security situation in Ogoniland calls for extraordinary measures if peace must be restored to the land. In view of the sufferings of the Ogoni people in the hands of these criminal elements, we assure you that the people are willing to offer Joint Task Force the support and co-operation needed to rid Ogonilland of criminal elements.
“Your Excellency may recall that cult related violence erupted in Ogoniland and festered for the greater part of 2019 under the watchful eyes of the present administration in the State. During this orgy of violence, arson, beheading of victims, mass murder of villagers, and sacking of communities became the order of the day.
“It took the intervention of the Nigerian security forces, in particular the men of the Nigerian Army, 6 Division Port Harcourt, the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services, to successfully dislodge the criminal elements which held Ogoniland and the entire Rivers State under siege. It was the gallantry and selfless service of these security men that ensured that the unprecedented violence abated and the sacked communities returned to their various homes”.
However, Topba also called on the federal government to declared late Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni sons killed, innocent of charges against them by the then military government in 1995. He added that if the Federal government upturns the judgement against the Nine Ogonis, then there will be free operation of oil in the area.
“Further recall that by the Communique issued at the Ogoni General Assembly held on 23rd November 2019, Ogoni people resolved to allow the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) free access to re-enter Ogoniland for the resumption of oil operations, after the Federal Government of Nigeria might have taken legal steps to posthumously overturn the conviction of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others who were unjustly and extra-judicially executed by the Gen. Sani Abacha-led military junta in 1995.
‘In addition, we had earlier appealed to Your Excellency to direct the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to take legal steps necessary to ensure that the conviction of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others is upturned posthumously. Our assurance is that once that has been done, the re-entry of the Federal Government into Ogoniland for resumption of oil operations will follow immediately as a gesture of goodwill and trust in your administration”, COOP added.