KINSMEN of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni environmentalist who was executed by a military dictatorship in Nigeria, have taken on the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, for describing the Ogoni quest for autonomy as a ''treasonable felony''.
President of the Ogoni mass organisation, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, says the governor of one of the richest oil and gas producing states in Southern Nigeria, does not appear to be properly informed on what the Ogoni people are doing.
Governor Amaechi was quoted by a Lagos-based newspaper as intimidating Diigbo by suggesting that he was committing “treasonable felony”, which is punishable by hanging in the same way Saro-Wiwa was murdered.
''On Ogoni autonomy, I wish them well. Ogoni autonomy is not achievable. The man (Diigbo) who declared Ogoni autonomy will run into the bush tomorrow morning. What Diigbo is doing is treasonable felony. You do not declare autonomy on the pages of newspapers and magazines or on radio and television'', said Amaechi.
But Diigbo is insisting that Article 20 (1) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is very clear. The Article however, states: ''Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities''.
The MOSOP spokesman also pointed out that in Article 34, ''indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards''.
The Ogoni people explained that by implication, ''issues pertaining to indigenous rights cannot be dabbled into by local or regional authorities that may be in conflict with indigenous rights, but rests with consultation with a nation state as Nigeria. We think Amaechi is ill-informed and trying to create security problems where they do not exist. It is this type of politician that account for the violent bloodshed and lack of effective governance in Nigeria''.
Continuing, they said, ''we think Amaechi needs proper advice on international matters. It is also because of international instruments that citizens who want to live in organized society are able to aspire to self-government, freedom and to organize and subordinate their rights. You cannot pick and chose certain aspects of civilization and corruptly opt for primitivity as you deem fit''.
Adding, they said. ''to improve the quality of political leadership in Nigeria, will require well informed political elites and actors, and not those who rule with their entire trust rested on the misuse of security forces''.
In the mean time, the President of Ogoni Council of Churches, Sir Mike Ibira, has said that today, Sunday, is a holy day and that the Ogoni people do not want to run into the bush, as they prefer to go to church as Christians, not to the bush. ENDS