…Threaten to protest injustice against Ogoni People
From Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Angered by the seizure of Ken Saro Wiwa memorial bus, the people of Ogoni in Rivers State have called on Nigerian Custom not to remind them of the past by refusing to release the bus donated by friends and colleagues in the United Kingdom to the Ogoni people in memory of Saro Wiwa.
In a joint press statement signed yesterday by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF), Social Action and Environmental Rights Action Platform, the groups said the Bus must be release because of its important to Ogoni people.
It was learnt that the said Bus was on displayed at various places in the United Kingdom and at the request of Nigerian partners; the Bus was shipped from London to Nigeria via Lagos Port. On arrival to Lagos, it was impounded by Custom officials on the 8th of September 2015.
Some controversial words of late Saro-Wiwa inscribed on the body of the Bus are ‘I accuse the oil companies of practicing Genocide against the Ogoni’. The Bus also displayed the names of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni heroes murdered by the then military government in Nigeria.
Mr. Celestine AkpoBari, National coordinator, Ogoni Solidarity Forum who was in Abuja negotiating on the release of the Bus toldThe Nation on phone that Nigeria custom has been making thing difficult for Ogoni people by refusing to released the bus which they impounded on 8th of September 2015 in Lagos.
He said he was in Lagos to find out the reason behind seizure of the Bus only to be told by a senior officer in Nigeria Custom that he should go to Abuja and sort it out because the name of Saro-Wiwa alone is controversial which he as an officer cannot handle.
He called on the Federal government to respect the contribution of the late Ogoni activist and give him a waiver by releasing the bus without rigorous processes or suspecting any political undertone.
AkpoBari said: “I was in Lagos few days ago to find out why the custom seized a Bus donated to the late Ken Saro-Wiwa but an officer in-charge of the Bus told me that the Bus has political undertone. He confined to me that the issue is beyond him. He said the name of Saro-Wiwa is fire which he doesn’t want to be involved.
“I am now in Abuja with the note they gave me in Lagos yet nothing is happening here, we are not going to take it for granted, we will protest if at the end the custom fail to consider our plea. If people like Dangote could be given a waiver by custom what stop them from giving Saro-Wiwa a waiver.
MOSOP President, Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara said Ogoni people would exhaust all the peaceful means to ensure that Custom releases the Bus to Ogoni people before any action could be taken.
He noted that the impounded Bus is very important to Ogoni People because it would remind them of the struggles of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni environmental right activists who were sentenced and killed by a military tribunal in November 1995.
A reliable source from custom office who pleaded anonymity said Bus had ‘political undertone due to Saro-Wiwa’s words which are inscribed on the side of the bus. “These words are very strong words and you don’t expect us to just release it without consulting the higher authority.”