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Who is Essential Action?

By Anslem D. John-Miller, President, NUOS Int. USA

A powerful delegation of the National Union of Ogoni Student (NUOS Int. USA), led by its President, Mr. Anslem D. John-Miller attended the United Nations 51st Annual DPI / NGO Conference, themed The 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights : From Words to Deeds at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) Fourth National Conference on African Refugees at Washington D.C. on September 14 - 16 and September 17 - 19, respectively.

At the United Nations, the delegation held discussions with several UN staff members and UN affiliated non governmental organizations on ways of improving human and environmental rights in Nigeria as they affect Ogoni and other oil producing minorities of the Niger Delta. The plight of Ogoni students stranded in the refugee camps in Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo and other countries within the West African sub-region was also discussed.

At Washington D.C, two members of the NUOS delegation -- Mr. Anslem D.John-Miller and Blessing Meabe -- addressed participants at the conference session "In Their Own Voices" on Friday, September 18. The two speakers drew the attention of the conferees to the continuing violations of the rights of the Ogoni people by the Internal Security Taskforce stationed in Ogoni territory since 1992, and still there today. The speakers cited several recent cases of military raids, killings, arrests and detentions and many other attrocities commited by the army of occupation, and described the recent release of the 'Ogoni 20' political prisoners held since May 1994, shortly after the Giokoo killings (in August 1998) as a "smart attempt by the the Abubakar regime to gain international recognition and acceptance"

The delegation also briefed the gathering on the overt and covert attempts by Shell to resume operations in Ogoni and described the actions of the company in the Niger Delta as " Environmental Racism" and called for a total boycott of Shell Gas and other bloody  products so as to force the company to respect human rights in its areas of operation. The team further called on the participants at the conference to speak out againgst any attempt by the Clinton Administration to lift the limited sanctions imposed on the nigerian military government in response to the 'Judicial Hangings' of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists on November 10, 1995.

The NUOS delegation also highlighted the insecurity problems facing her colleagues and other Nigerian refugees resident at the UNHCR Camps in West Africa. The team drew the attention of the conference attendees to the extradition agreement reached between the nigerian government and her counterparts in Benin Republic, Togo, and Ghana (an agreement which empowers Nigerian security operatives to enter into these countries to arrest and extradite any perceived 'dissident'). NUOS also alerted  the delegates on the recent decision of the Benin government and the UNHCR Benin to relocate Ogoni refugees from Come' Camp to Kpomasse which is in close proximity to Nigeria (100 Kilometers), a decision which, if implemented will make the refugees vulnerable to attack. In this regard, NUOS strongly appealed to the US Department of State and the UNHCR to
give more priority to the resettlement of Ogoni and other Nigerian refugees. The team specifically appealed to the US  epartment of State to change the present status of the Ogoni refugee crisis from 'UNHCR Referral' to 'Priority 2'.

The NUOS delegation which included Anslem D. John-Miller, Israel Eyi, Blessing Meabe, Lenu F. Kaesor, John Saale, Joy Kobani and other activists of non-Ogoni origin such as Hussein Afey, Yussuf Adem to mention but a few, later visited US Capitol Hill to press home their demands before US Senators and Representatives.

At an emergency meeting held shortly after the presentation at the conference, NUOS resolved as follows:

  1. That NUOS will continue to peacefully and non-violently  pursue the legitimate demands of the Ogoni people as enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) until justice is done to Ogoni.
  2. That the Ogoni demands as contained in the OBR are upheld by the UN and therefore must be respected  and complied with by the Nigerian government and Shell, else  any attempt by Shell to forcefully return to Ogoni without addressing these basic demands will be vehemently resisted by  all Ogonis.
  3. That MOSOP remains the only voice of the Ogoni people. As such,whatever  negotiations done with whoever government and Shell has used as their agent(s) holds no mandate of the Ogoni people. Such individuals speaking in government media and newspapers are speaking for themselves and not for MOSOP, so neither the Ogoni people nor the public should be fooled.
  4. That NUOS will continue to mobilize other oil producing communities of the Niger Delta to peacefully and non-violently demand their rights.
It will be recalled that NUOS Int. USA, with headquarters based in Chicago was inaugurated by the President of MOSOP USA, Prof. Vincent Idemyor and Tee Idee Igboh, Coordinator of MOSOP Chicago on October 20, 1996.
A summary of its objectives are as follows:
  1. developing Ogoni students,
  2. enlightening and educating the public on the human rights situation in Ogoni, the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole,
  3. exposing the cruel activities of Shell towards the indigenous peoples of the world,
  4. rehabilitating exiled Ogoni students,
  5. bringing justice to Ogoni through litigation,
  6. setting up a scholarship scheme for deserving Ogoni students in Nigeria.
NUOS Int. USA since its inception has embarked on several speech tours and presentations at a number of NGO fora. The students delegation which included Anslem John-Miller (President), Charles Wiwa (Secretary), Dominic Pianen, Sunny Ogbonnah, James  L. UeBari, Mel B. Adiegwu and Douglas Ikeh held crucial discussions with the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, Madam Sadako Ogata on ways of addressing the Ogoni refugee crisis, on May 26, 1998, at Chicago.

A national convention of the body has been slated for early 1999, in the United States, while a scholarship scheme "Ogoni 9 Memorial Educational Scholarship Scheme" has been established as a mark of honor for NUOS late Grand Patron, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists executed on November 10, 1995. The #50,000.00 (Fifty Thousand Naira) four year scholarship award will be awarded any Ogoni freshman in the Environmental Sciences in any tertiary institution in Nigeria. The grant will cover the areas of tuition, text and research and it takes effect from January, 1999.

Join NUOS in its intellectual and non-violent struggle for peace and justice for the Ogoni and other minority peoples of the Niger Delta.

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