It’s still not clear who is the news leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Ogoni peopleare one of the many indigenous groups in Nigeria’s troubled Niger Delta region.
Ledum Mitee who has led MOSOP for an estimated 14 years is said to be refusing to accept the results of an election held early April this year in which Goodluck Diigbo says he was elected MOSOP president.
Mitee has reportedly refused to recognize the new leadership. Instead he has reportedly said the only authentic MOSOP election he recognizes is that which took place in December 2008 in which he Mitee was re-elected for another three-year term.
Diigbo said the new MOSOP leadership has begun the task of conducting the organization’s business with or without Mitee handing over.
“We have been sworn in and the newly elected leadership of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) has taken off, but the former president of one of the factions of MOSOP, Ledum Mitee has not handed over to us,” he said.
Diigbo said it had been difficult to find Mitee since the April election, suggesting that Mitee might have gone into hiding.
“He is almost virtually in hiding because we have obtained a court order to restrain him from further parading himself as president MOSOP and it’s also being very difficult to even serve him because he’s in hiding,” Diigbo said.
Diigbo said he has also written to the Rivers State Police Commissioner to get Mitee to formally hand over the office but to no avail.
Mitee, who has led MOSOP for the last 14 years, has refused to accept the results of the elections of Diigbo and his team. Instead Mitee reportedly said the on only authentic MOSOP election was that which was held in December 2008 in which he Mitee was elected.
Diigbo said MOSOP’s constitution does not provide for a life presidency.
“The constitution of MOSOP provides for two-year tenure and for only one more election, meaning maximum of four years. So the constitution does not provide for life presidency of MOSOP. By our estimation, he has been there for 14 years,” Diigbo said.
He said the newly elected officers have had a difficult time trying to get Mitee to formally hand over.
“Now we are getting reports from the (MOSOP) office staff that each day that the staff leaves from the office, the following morning they will come and discover that some people have visited the office after they left. This is becoming very, very serious,” Diigbo said
Diigbo said Mitee is a lawyer and should respect the rule of law by embracing the court order for him to formally hand over.
He said the new MOSOP leadership has already begun the task of conducting the organization’s business with or without Mitee handing over.
“The point I want to make now is that we are not going to wait for this process to go through. While we continue to make sure that he formally hand over, we’ve started the programs of the new leadership and our priority now is to repair the movement because we inherited a movement that was in several factions,” Diigbo said.
Diigbo also said the new MOSOP leadership is moving to initiate dialogue with the multi-national oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.
He described as very unfortunate the current Nigerian military offensive against militants in the Niger Delta. Diigbo said MOSOP is a non-vilolent movement.
“We operate non-violently, and so we are not supportive of any attempt to militarize the areas where oil is produced in Nigeria. Definitely I don’t believe that there is any military solution to it. And we think that military action stop and all the parties must move to the dialogue table,” Diigbo said.