Statement of Food & Water Watch International Policy Director Darcey O’Callaghan
Washington, D.C.— “Following the kidnapping this week of Justina Ojo, wife of Godwin Uyi Ojo, an internationally-renowned environmental activist and executive director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Food & Water Watch is calling on Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari and Edo State governor Adams Oshiomhole to help return her safely and unconditionally to her family.
“The kidnapping, which occurred the evening of February 22 at gun-point outside Ojo’s home in Benin City, Nigeria by unknown abductors, is consistent with cases of environmental terrorism. The ERA was founded by the legal counsel that defended activist Ken Saro Wiwa, and is no stranger to persecution. ERA staff has been targeted with violence and intimidation previously, and we fear that this attack may be politically motivated.
“We also call on the United States government to urge the government of Nigeria to immediately address this kidnapping. The Uyi Ojo family lives a modest lifestyle and has long been committed to public service and environmental sustainability. Both Justina and her husband are Nigerian citizens.
“Despite efforts by the Nigerian police, high profile abductions have been increasing. It is a great travesty that such violence could have the additional effect of deterring people from environmental justice work.
“Today we join Akinbode Oluwafemi, deputy director of ERA/FoEN in urging the abductors to release Justina unharmed, and we encourage the international community to increase pressure on the Nigerian police to locate her. Justina and her family are in our thoughts as we look forward to her safe return.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected].