The Council of Ogoni Professionals (COP International, USA), an umbrella body of Ogoni professionals in the United States of America, has asked the United States Justice department to urgently investigate corruption in Nigeria, stressing that the root cause of the problems in Nigeria was as a result of mismanagement and corruption by those at the helm of affairs.
In its testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations during a hearing on the situation of Nigeria on Tuesday, the Ogoni Council represented by Mr. Anslem DornuBari John-Miller, its Chairman, Caretaker Committee, said that the Congress should mandate the Justice Department to henceforth investigate and prosecute all Nigerian government officials who engage in corruption.
The Council of Ogoni added that any loot recovered during such investigations and prosecutions should be re-directed towards various poverty alleviation programs being undertaken by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in impoverished communities in Nigeria.
To further combat corruption in Nigeria, the leader of the Union urged the United States government to ensure that U.S. Visas are not issued to corrupt Nigerian officials and their immediate and extended families who benefit from such corrupt practices.
According to the Ogoni Council “The U.S. should mobilize the G8 Countries and other powerful financial institutions to freeze accounts of corrupt Nigerian officials”
The Council also told the United States lawmakers that the remaining Ogoni refugees left behind in the UNHCR Camp in Benin Republic during the U.S. Resettlement exercise from 1996 to 2001 should be considered for resettlement, especially now that they are facing forced repatriation to Nigeria, while the government of Nigeria is yet to address the demands of the Ogoni people enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights or have a rehabilitation plan.
Berating the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for its failure to embark on any developmental projects in Ogoni, the Council of Ogoni therefore appealed to the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations to bring this concern to the attention of the USAID.
On Amnesty, the Council of Ogoni said: “While the Amnesty Program could be credited for the reduced level of violence in the restive Niger-Delta, especially in the Ijaw areas, it is important to note that any peace recorded is temporary because the underlining problems of environmental devastation and economic marginalization that led to the crisis are yet to be resolved. Granting Amnesty to militants who engaged in violence and other illegal activities on one hand and, ignoring the genuine demands of the Ogonis who are peaceful and non-violent in their agitations on the other hand is wrong, immoral and unjust"
“It is an encouragement for violence and a recipe for further disaster in the country. It is at a point where the Ogoni people are beginning to feel that nonviolence campaign may not work in Nigeria where morality or world opinion means nothing to the powers that be, especially now that the Ogoni people are beginning to feel abandoned by the international community because of the interest in the Nigerian oil supply”
“The Nigerian Government should be encouraged to dialogue with true representatives of Ogoni people over the various other demands enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR). The government to date has not addressed any aspect of the Ogoni Bill of Rights”
It also asked the US to urged the Nigerian Government to immediately implement the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Report on Ogoni, adding that continued delay imposes eminent threats to the existence of the Ogoni people.
The US Congress was also requested to prevail on the Nigerian authorities to stop Rivers state government from further attacks and killings of innocent villagers in Sogho community in Ogoni, where Rivers state security police is presently 'shooting aside' in a government's raid for a forceful expropriation of land in the already overcrowded Ogoni area.