Urhobo Historical Society

Environmental Rights Action [ERA] Condemns

   Date:         Wed, 11 Jul 2001 22:09:14 +0200
   From:         "Environmental Rights Action" <eraction@infoweb.abs.net>
     To:         "ERA/FoEN" <eraction@infoweb.abs.net>


July 11, 2001


Gentlemen of the Press,

On behalf of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, we welcome you to this press briefing focusing on the disturbing state of our environment, which continues to come under threat due to pressure from the extractive activities carried out in the oil and gas industry. ERA/FoEN is specifically joining hundreds of groups worldwide to mark ExxonMobil/Esso International Day of Action today. Today's actions underscore the depth of public outcry and incessant community protests and call on the ExxonMobil to change and behave responsibly.

The purpose of the briefing is twofold:

i. To expose the ExxonMobil destructive practices and demand that they change.
ii. To mount pressure on ExxonMobil to rethink their diabolical alternative to the Kyoto Protocol which they have saddled on the Bush administration and the rest of the world.


For decades, ExxonMobil has destroyed the environment, violated human rights, exercised its control over captive governments, funded climate change skeptics, degraded pristine wildernesses, and provided the environment for killings with impunity. ExxonMobil is able to achieve this unenviable feat as the world's biggest corporation and as the most powerful oil company that has since become the face of globalisation. Mobil began operation in Nigeria in the present day Akwa Ibom State in 1967 and currently extracts more than 600,000 barrels of crude oil daily from that state alone.


In Nigeria and elsewhere ExxonMobil's intrusion into indigenous communities has consistently been a curse rather than a blessing. The ExxonMobil oil spill of January 11, 1998, which occurred at Idoho Platform in Akwa Ibom State spewed over 40,000 barrel of crude into rivers, creeks and farmlands . Similar spills due to corrosive pipelines that have outlived their life span frequently spew crude oil into the environment, with severe effect on biodiversity. Several communities in Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta states were affected by that spill and are yet to recover from its impact.Peaceful protests by some of the affected communities (for compensation and clean up of the spill) were met by police brutality. About 25 persons were arrested and detained and later released (amongst those released were Chief E. C. D. Abia and Mbong Obong Mbong). Till date adequate compensation has neither been paid nor was the spill properly cleaned up.

This is a trademark pattern of ExxonMobil's response of intimidation and suppression to protests against the damaging effects of their activities. Just turn the pages of most Nigerian dailies and hardly a day passes without a heavy dose of mind-boggling stories of the atrocities of this oil mogul.

Recently a suit has been filed accusing the ExxonMobil of complicity in abuses committed by State Security forces that protected its natural gas fields in Aceh, Indonesia. The suit claims that ExxonMobil provided earth-moving equipment to dig mass graves; equipped soldiers involved in the atrocities and allowed company facilities to be used for interrogation and torture. The Plaintiffs further claimed against ExxonMobil that they have been subjected to serious human rights abuses, including genocide, murder, torture, and crimes against humanity, sexual violence, and kidnapping .

ExxonMobil is part of an oil consortium promoting a controversial pipeline in Chad/Cameroon that has much potential for the environmental disaster and has ignited a series of human rights abuses in both countries.


The social and ecological debt due to reckless exploitation of resources is rising even as environmental degradation and pollution march on unchecked. The devastation of the environment, the social and ecological impacts on people, livelihoods and on the sensitive environment are rarely accounted for or mitigated in the extractive processes.  The political and economic alliances of converging interests between ExxonMobil and the State protect oil Companies and make it possible for them to destroy our environment and our way of life. The fact that they never pay attention to our environment explains the huge profits declared yearly to the detriment of poor people and their resources.


With so much money at their disposal ExxonMobil bought and paid for the USA president Bush's climate change and energy policies, at the planet's expense.  It's one of the principal driving forces behind neo-liberal policies including the so-called free trade and globalization.  In Nigeria and elsewhere ExxonMobil has also been sponsoring image-laundering advertorials in the media with a view to greenwash and deceive the


ExxonMobil is behind the recent US dumping of the Kyoto Climate treaty. In April, Mr. Bush crushed worldwide hopes for reducing global warming by rejecting the Kyoto Protocol - a clear payback for the $25 million the oil industry, led by ExxonMobil, contributed to the Republicans.  Coming from the country that produces 25% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions but has only 4% of the population, the US position remains an outrage to the world.  ExxonMobil lobbied hard to reject the Treaty, spent millions in advertising to discredit it, continues to fund greenhouse skeptics, and invests virtually nothing in renewable energy.  The Bush energy plan, otherwise known as the ExxonMobil energy plan, calls for expanded drilling and the building of a new power plant every week over the next twenty years. This will generously benefit ExxonMobil and the oil industry in their goal to expand exploration, extraction and wrong-headed use of fossil fuels worldwide.

We are in concert with concerned people all over the world who are working for a just and equitable society. We must rise up against corporate rule. We must fight this new face of colonialism.  We have to let the biggest of big businesses know that we will no longer tolerate its destructive undemocratic practices. Today, we send a message to President George Bush and all the oil Companies that the next round of the Kyoto climate negotiations in Bonn Germany (five days away), must not be toyed with. Negotiations must be transparent and not turned into carbon stock trading. Action must be taken now to support the Kyoto Treaty and to reduce emissions.

As we move towards the goal of reducing corporate power and building a just society, we look to support from people like you as opinion molders who will help us with our work to address the alarming imbalance of corporate power and join us in our work for social justice.

ExxonMobil's activities including gas flaring contribute to global warming and are the major sources of GHG. The result is known to be an invidious sea level rise and its impact especially on low lying islands and on the Niger Delta is already visible. Such effects being witnessed include massive flooding compounded by a gradual subsidence such that a 1 metre rise of sea level has serious possibility of submerging the Niger Delta over 100 kilometres inland from the Atlantic coast. The defensive mechanism and adaptation needs are weak due to insensitivity and a lack of adequate attention to the environment.

ERA/FoEN stands in solidarity with all lovers of justice, peace and true development to demand that ExxonMobil:

For further details contact:

The International Secretariat, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, 214, Uselu-Lagos Road, Benin City, Nigeria.
Tel/Fax: 234 52 600165
E-mail: eraction@infoweb.abs.net
Pressure Point