Abuja - Leaders of Ogoni Community in Rivers State on Monday denied media report of an alleged secession plan by the people of Ogoni land or a declaration for a Sovereign State of Ogoni.
The group led by the duo of Sen. Magnus Abbey (PDP-Rivers South) and the Paramount Ruler of Ogoni land, HRH Godwin Gininwa, said the reports were ‘’misrepresentations’’.
Abbey, who made presentation on behalf of the delegation, said the Ogonis remained committed to the unity of Nigeria.
He said though they had always supported the call for the devolution of power to local entities to reflect true federalism and that the unity of the country remained sacrosanct.
``I don’t think that it is correct to say that anybody has called for a Sovereign State of Ogoni people, I think, there was kind of misrepresentation in the media.
``We stated clearly and we want to repeat clearly for the record that the Ogoni people are part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that we are committed to a united Nigeria and we will do our best to see that Nigeria remains a united country.
`But, it’s important that Nigeria remains a united country that is committed to justice for all persons; and that is what the Ogoni people have always been fighting for; and that is what we are still fighting for; and that is part of what we came to discuss here with Mr President.
``I don’t think that can be misrepresented for a call for secession, which is not what Ogoni struggle is about.
``What we are saying is that the Ogonis have rights, there are issues of justice and there is also the question of people having an interest in what happens in their own area, those are the things the Ogonis are canvassing.’’
The leaders demanded the creation of Bori State to include Ogoni and other ethnic groups in the South- East senatorial district of Rivers.
They also demanded the economic and social integration of the Ogoni people through special development initiatives.
While thanking the Federal Government for inviting UNEP to do a groundbreaking scientific study of the Ogoni environment, the delegation demanded the implementation of the report.
``Through the UNEP report which you received on August 12, 2012, you may by now be aware of the extent of environmental devastation of Ogoni.
``Not only has the terrestrial and aquatic live and soil suffered inestimable damage but, the health of the people has been tragically affected by hydro-carbon pollution.
``Every Ogoni person is a potential cancer patient.’’
The Senator decried the delay by the Federal Government to implement the UNEP report in spite of the urgency contained in the recommendation.
``Ogoni will appreciate receiving assurance from the Federal Government that the UNEP recommendation on Ogoni will be fully implemented regardless of intervention in other areas.
``The one billion dollars recommended by UNEP as start up point for the Ogoni clean-up will be spent on Ogoni alone.
``The Ogoni people will be given priority in business and job opportunities connected to the clean-up in Ogoniland as a means of amelioration of poverty and joblessness in the area.’’
Abbey said that Ogoni youths did not benefit from the amnesty programme because of their non-violent approach to issues.
He demanded for special programme to empower youths in the area, adding that the Ogoni youths should also be involved in the pipeline surveillance programme.
The meeting later went into closed door after the delegation’s address.
At the end of the closed session, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, told journalists that the President had assured the delegation of government’s commitment to the implementation of the report.
Abati said the President also assured the delegation of government’s readiness to work with them and address all the issue raised.
The delegation included politicians, traditional rulers, opinion leaders, youth, women and clergy from the Ogoni community. (NAN)