By Ben Ikari (Ogoni and International Human Rights, Freedom Advocate)

19 March 2014

To the Ogoni People of this World:

Although my recommendation and motivation is for Ogoni independence from Nigeria. Ogoni/MOSOP struggle under Ken Saro-Wiwa and to date hasn't been and isn't about independence from Nigeria. It's been and still about internal self-determination.

Meaning a state for Ogoni or any arrangement, by whatever name called, provided it guarantees Ogonis the opportunity to rule themselves or control their own affairs as with current states in Nigeria created mostly on ethnic basis.

My argument, however, is that the best Ogoni can go for is full independence/external self-determination, which is also a right under international law. The reasons among many are: Nigeria (rians) don't respect Ogoni to treat us as equal humans, not to mention granting us our simple internal political autonomy demanded more than two decades ago, but wants more of our oil.

This oil has been exploited to our disadvantage and detriment, and our land left degraded. The federal government of Nigeria is ignoring a United Nations Environmental Program’s (UNEP) report it commissioned, hence watching us absorb hydrocarbon poison and dying exponentially.

Also, no person from other ethnic groups has been killed, hanged by Nigeria for demanding a state, which is political autonomy or internal self-determination. About 4, 000 Ogonis (including the killing of the Ogoni 4 and hanging of Saro-Wiwa and 8 others) have been killed by Nigeria in cold-blood. We've humbly and respectfully presented our case for redress, fair treatment as a group, which has contributed so much to the Nigerian state, and willingness to live peacefully with other Nigerians. Our demands have been ignored repeatedly and tangible development grossly denied Ogoni.

In addition, Ogoni was forced against its wish, thus didn't bargain, sign any agreement to become a British colony or part of the Southern protectorate which joined with the Northern protectorate in 1914 to form Nigeria, nor sign any with illegal Nigeria itself. It's illegally, wrongfully invaded by rogue British colonialists. There is no such document anywhere showing Ogoni agreement or concession, not any showing Ogoni gave up its precolonial independence to Britain or Nigeria. Some may argue that late Paul Naaku Birabi, an Ogoni nationalist was one of those who went to the London Conference seeking Nigeria's independence in the 50s.

This is true, but only to the fact that Ogoni has been forced against her wish to be part of Nigeria. Thus neither Birabi nor any other Ogoni sat anywhere to invite the British to invade Ogoni or agree to be part of the 1914 amalgamation. It's by force, and you don't force people to join groups, nations or live where they don't bargain or agree to live. Nigeria, as an experiment and its woes is evident that you don't force people against their wish to live or be part of what they don't want or like. Therefore, the self-determination concept, which Ogoni deserve and international law propagate and protects. Nigeria also used this concept in 1960 to illegally gain independence from Britain.

Meanwhile, even after an Ogoni person appeared at the London Conference and the subsequent independence of Nigeria, and Saro-Wiwa, other Ogonis' efforts to keep Nigeria during the civil war among many contributions to date. Ogonis haven't been treated as citizens who have contributed in any manner to cause any good in the country. Ogoni is rather treated as a place with sub-humans whose existence doesn't matter, but great only for exploitation, oppression and death.

Although we supported and contributed to Nigeria's existence after said independence, due to the force of arms. Ogoni nation being a current colonized unit in Nigeria hasn't denounced its precolonial sovereignty or independence, which Britain didn't return to the people as supposed by the rules of proper decolonization. It's a truism that Ogoni is far older than Nigeria. Nevertheless, we also presented our demands for internal political autonomy or self-determination, which is enjoyed by other Nigerians and as guaranteed by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the rights of nations and indigenous peoples (International law). Ogoni demand for internal self-determination doesn't in any manner deny any one or group in Nigeria any fundamental right or privilege.

But we're ignored, denied, killed and all tangible development granted other ethnic groups are conspicuously denied Ogoni. We've been exploited, killed and abandoned for Nigeria to live. Ogoni has evidence to its suffering, appeals for help and consistent discrimination and rejection.

The world is aware of our cause and plight. If truly we need or want freedom, why must we continue to live in a country we didn't bargain and we aren't wanted and are dejected like beasts of burden? Ogoni people, I promise you, we can reassert our precolonial independence or sovereignty, which no one, and group or government can deny we didn't have.

We've the right, by natural and international law to self-determination/independence, which is to determine our sociopolitical, economic and cultural, developmental structure and affairs among many. Therefore, Ogonis should seek independence from Nigeria. This is the most righteous thing to do as a people whose suffering in Nigeria by other Nigerians is obvious and known the world.

Nigeria has raped and destroyed Ogoni for more than 50 years. This is in addition to about 64 years under British over-lordship. Nigerian politicians, rulers and majority of Nigerians don’t see any reason to treat Ogoni fairly yet they’ve used our oil to develop themselves for more than 35 years and gave us nothing back. They’ve no remorse or intention to respect us and serve justice to our cause. Consequently, we must not continue like this under neocolonial bondage. We must step up action and deciding our fate else no one will do it for us. The suffering hence complains will continue. No Nigerian and their international conspirators (Britain, for instance) are willing to listen. We’re on our own.

Among many others, the people of South Sudan came to the United States some years back, like Ogonis are in their numbers in the same country and Canada. They spread their message, articulate their needs and today they're free/independent. Why can't Ogonis make similar move and with all we've and our imagination and creativity? Ogoni is very rich in oil, gas and other solid minerals. I repeat, Nigeria has nothing good in stock for Ogoni but exploitation, poisoned land and death.

Therefore, let's come together and go to work for Ogoni! Our forebear who hadn't the kinds of resources and connections (technology) we've today fought hard for us that we've what's left of Ogoni and destroyed by Britain and Nigeria. We can do more if we’ve understanding, unity of purpose and direction, so enough of the complaints and bickering! We've all it takes, but the earlier the better. The world is watching and waiting, though it isn't a one day or five years project. It’s a sure possibility we can make possible only if we truly feel the pain and determined to be free. Freedom isn’t free; and independence is hard work; it’s great sacrifice. We can do it, I truly believe, but we should take the first step now!