By Godwin Anene
There was mild drama on Tuesday when officials of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) reportedly molested protesters during a visit by members of House of Representatives Committee on Environment to monitor the Ogoni clean-up exercise in Rivers State.
HYPREP aides, who bounced on the protesters, also destroyed the placards of the protesting activists led by Port Harcourt based activist, Stephen Deegbara.
The members of the Committee, who watched the drama and the beating of the protesters without doing anything to save the situation, were in Rivers to monitor the ongoing clean-up exercise in Ogoniland.
The Committee led by its Chairman, Johnson Oghuma, were at Mogho cleanup site in Gokana Local Government Area when the HYPREP aides allegedly led by a Community Liaison Officer in the locality pounced on the protesters led by Ogoni activist, Stephen Deegbara.
Deegbara, among his placards carrying protesters, was addressing the Reps members on perceived highhandedness on the Ogoni cleanup when the HYPREP attachés dragged him from the scene, seizing and destroying their placards before physically assaulting Deegbara and his colleagues who had to run for their lives.
Disturbed at the development, Holy Michael, Special Adviser to the President-General,Ogoni Youth Federation, accused HYPREP of applying divide and rule to “Perpetually Suppress Ogoni People and cover up massive fraud and in the cleanup process.
Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Marvin Dekil, has however repeatedly denied any shady deal and highhandedness in the process, saying strict checks in management of the process won’t allow any foul play.
Meanwhile, The Reps Committee Chairman, Oghuma, on Tuesday, has demanded provision of potable water for the communities in the oil degraded Ogoni environment without further delay.
He said his committee on Environment was on the visit to see the extent of work done, acknowledging that remediation was in progress, though slow.
The House Committee will be in Rivers State for three days for the exercise.