Asks what’s HYPREP cleaning when more pollution is going on?
Says tailoring companies in line for Cleanup jobs
By Egufe Yafugborhi
YOUTHS in oil devastated Ogoniland, Rivers State, have expressed shock and apprehension over the recent judgement of a Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt which declared the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), in charge of the Ogoni Cleanup, as “unknown to law” and can’t sue or be sued.
The plaintiff in the case, Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) in a joint statement by the National Youth Council of Ogoni People (NYCOP) in Port Harcourt on Thursday said the judgement portends danger for the Ogoni people if a body entrusted with millions of dollars to clean Ogoniland cannot be questioned while also harping on the imperative to back HYPREP by law.
Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) relying on the Freedom of Information Act in the suit against HYPREP had approached the court to compel HYPREP to be accountable on how initial $10 million Federal Government take-off grants for the Ogoni Cleanup was being disbursed.
Presiding Justice Emmanuel Obile who struck out the case on technical grounds in the July 17 ruling had declared that HYPREP could not be sued because it was not established by an Act of the National Assembly, asserting that the plaintiffs filed the suit wrongly as they did not follow the right judicial process.
Legborsi Yamaabana, President-General, OYF, in a joint briefing with Young Nkpah, NYCOP, said, “That a team managing whopping $1 billion of Ogoni fund is not known to the law is shocking. We are beginning to understand why HYPREP is failing to implement the UNEP report with impunity on the Ogoni Cleanup.
“It means they are free to do whatever they like and go away with it. That is why the community complaints and protest are falling into deaf ears. We are happy the case was not dismissed but struck out on a technicality. We are definitely appealing the judgement to sue the right parties.
Nkpah of NYCOP said: “The lesson from the shocking court ruling is that Federal Government must urgently back HYPREP by an Act of Parliament, otherwise any government can come up any day to scrap it and we are back to square one.”
On perceived failures of HYPREP on the Ogoni Cleanup, Nkpah said: “Where are the emergency measures UNEP recommended to restore livelihoods in the polluted communities before considering Cleanup and remediation? They did bidding for water in 2018. They are doing another now, yet no water has been provided.
“The people are still drinking polluted water and you say you are cleaning Ogoniland. Besides, what are you cleaning when oil theft still thrives? More pipes being broken and pollution still persist. They cannot deceive us.
“We know how companies specialised in animal husbandry and tailoring are being listed to do Cleanup. When you confront them they say they have foreign technical partners. They are digging and re-digging where there are no pollutions. No Cleanup is happening.”
Among their expectations, youths of Ogoniland insist on the sack of HYPREP Coordinator, Marvin Dekil and replacement with another Ogoni indigene, the establishment of independent monitoring and evaluation team on the Cleanup as well as a sack of the communications team at HYPREP over communication gap between Ogoni people and the agency.
They further demanded, “Review of the profile of HYPREP contractors over casualisation scheme for employed Ogoni youths in violation of Labour Laws. Ogoni youths are neither paid evenly nor given employment letters even after one year. This trend must be reversed.
“HYPREP office must relocate from Port Harcourt to Ogoniland for proximity to the people, project sites and for direct impact on the local economy. Allied industries would also take advantage of the favourable investment climate offered by the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic, Kira Campus as well as the Mobile Police Force, Squadron 56 Barracks in the area for security and sustainability.
“Dissolution of HYPREP’s Governing Council, Board of Trustees, and the resignation of all Ogoni representatives on both organs (where currently outnumbered) to pave way for fresh negotiations and redesign of the operational structure of the project, without manipulations from Shell and Partners, to achieve set objectives of the UNEP Report.”