While all the oil companies that responded to Human Rights Watch’s request for information stated that their policy was always to oppose the use of force against protesters at oil installations, the response from the military regime has been invariably repressive when community members attempt to demand better treatment from the government or the international oil companies. The following section describes well known protests, including the campaign by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), as well as lesser known attempts to obtain compensation by local communities, and the response from the security forces to these actions. While information relating to the oil companies’ response is included, where available, the next chapter considers the role and responsibilities of the oil companies in more detail.


On October 30 and 31, 1990, a protest took place at Shell’s facility at Umuechem, east of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, that led to the police killing some eighty unarmed demonstrators and destroying or badly damaging 495 houses. This incident was the first to bring the situation in the Niger Delta to international attention, and remains the most serious loss of life directly involving oil company activities. Youths from the Umuechem community demanded provision of electricity, water, roads, and other compensation for oil pollution of crops and water supplies. On October 29, 1990, the divisional manager of SPDC’s eastern division had written to the Rivers State commissioner of police to request “security protection,” with a preference for the paramilitary Mobile Police, in anticipation of an “impending attack” on SPDC’s facilities in Umuechem allegedly planned for the following morning.84 Following peaceful protests by village youths on SPDC’s premises on October 30, SPDC again made a written report to the governor of Rivers State, a copy of which was sent to the commissioner of police. On October 31, Mobile Police attacked peaceful demonstrators with teargas and gunfire. They returned at 5 a.m. the next day, shooting indiscriminately, in a purported attempt to locate three of their members who had not returned the previous evening. A judicial commission of inquiry established by the government found no evidence of a threat by the villagers and concluded that the Mobile Policehad displayed “a reckless disregard for lives and property.”85 No compensation has been awarded for the attack to those whose relatives were killed or homes destroyed; nor have the perpetrators been brought to justice.86

The Ogoni Crisis

The most significant effort to target oil production in an attempt to highlight minority grievances has been that led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), founded in 1990 by leaders of the Ogoni ethnic group, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known author who became its spokesperson. In August 1990 MOSOP adopted an “Ogoni Bill of Rights,” which listed the grievances of the Ogoni people and demanded “political autonomy to participate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate unit,” including “the right to the control and use of a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development.” MOSOP’s political demands were targeted at the Nigerian federal government, but it also accused Shell of “full responsibility for the genocide of the Ogoni.”87 In October 1990, MOSOP sent the Ogoni Bill of Rights to then head of state Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, but received no response. In December 1992, MOSOP sent its demands to Shell, Chevron, and NNPC, the partners in the joint ventures operating in Ogoni, together with an ultimatum to pay back royalties and compensation within thirty days or quit Ogoni.

On January 4, 1993, at the start of the U.N.’s International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, MOSOP held a mass rally in Ogoni attended by hundreds of thousands of people—one half or more of the total Ogoni population. Mobilization continued throughout the year, and MOSOP decided, controversially, to boycott the June 12, 1993 elections. Shell withdrew its staff from Ogoni in January 1993 and ceased production at its facilities there (about 3 percent of its total production in Nigeria) in mid-1993, citing intimidation of its staff. Active Shell pipelines continue to cross Ogoni, however, carrying oil produced at other oil fields.88

This demonstration of organized political opposition to both government and oil companies resulted in a military crackdown in Ogoni. Ken Saro-Wiwa and other MOSOP leaders were detained several times during 1993. A Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, a military unit, was created in January 1994 specifically to deal with the Ogoni crisis. In May 1994, following the brutal murder by a mob of youths of four prominent Ogoni leaders, who had been associated with a faction of MOSOP that had differed with Saro-Wiwa on the organization’s tactics and strategy and had been regarded by some in MOSOP as government collaborators, the repression of MOSOP activities intensified. Ken Saro-Wiwa and several other Ogoni activists were immediately arrested in connection with the four murders, despite a lack of credible evidence to connect them to the deaths. In 1995, Human Rights Watch published a report on the Ogoni crisis which documented detentions, harassment, and extrajudicial executions of MOSOP activists by the Task Force and other security force units, as well as security force involvement in violent clashes between the Ogoni and neighboring ethnic groups.89 Sixteen members of the MOSOP leadership were put on trial for the May 1994 murders, and nine, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, were eventually convicted and sentenced to death by a special tribunal established for the case, whose procedures blatantly violated international standards of due process.90 One leading jurist concluded:

The judgement of the Tribunal is not merely wrong, illogical or perverse. It is downright dishonest. The Tribunal consistently advanced arguments which no experienced lawyer could possibly believe to be logical or just. I believe that the Tribunal first decided on its verdicts and then sought for arguments to justify them. No barrel was too deep to be scraped.91

Without the right to an appeal, the “Ogoni Nine” were executed on November 10, 1995.

Following the execution of Saro-Wiwa and his codefendants, and the flight of many other leadership figures into exile, MOSOP lost its driving force. Twenty former activists in MOSOP, who were detained at various times in 1994 and 1995, were held in Port Harcourt prison, in deteriorating health, until September 1998, charged with murder in connection with the killings of May 1994 for which Ken Saro-Wiwa and his codefendants were hanged.92 They were held under a “holding charge” before a magistrates court, since the government did not reconstitute the special tribunal before which the earlier trial was held.93 Hundreds of other Ogonis have been held in detention for periods ranging from a few hours or days to several months over the last few years. Nevertheless, protests continued at a lower pitch over the following years, and Ogoni activists continued to organize events to coincide with January 4, “Ogoni Day,” and November 10, the anniversary of the executions.

Human Rights Watch visited Ogoni in July 1997, and spoke to eyewitnesses about several cases in which individuals marked as MOSOP activists had been extrajudicially executed, beaten, or detained by members of the security forces. In raids by the security forces on houses where such activists live, police or soldiers often assaulted all members of the household indiscriminately. Meetings of Ogoni organizations regarded as subversive, including MOSOP and its affiliates, had been broken up if held in public.

In one raid on October 14, 1996, soldiers came to the home of an activist, burst into his bedroom and beat him and his wife severely. They stripped them both naked, and then went to a nearby compound where the wife’s mother lived, teargassed the premises and beat the mother also. The wife, who was pregnant, was admitted to the village clinic for two weeks, suffering from internal bleeding as a result of her injuries. Her mother was treated by traditional medicine, but wasunable to stand up properly for two months, and was still unable to carry heavy objects when Human Rights Watch interviewed her nine months later. The husband was detained for several months.94

In many cases, the eyewitnesses spoken to by Human Rights Watch knew the names of those who had carried out the killings or beatings, who are notorious for similar assaults in Ogoni. Despite this, there was no prospect of bringing the perpetrator to justice; lawyers in the community were too frightened to assist victims in civil cases, while the chances of internal disciplinary proceedings within the security forces were virtually zero. While the situation in Ogoni has improved in recent months, the chances of redress for past violations remain slim. In a rare case in which disciplinary action was promised, Maj. Obi Umahi, commander of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, said that he would bring a soldier before a court martial in connection with the shooting and killing at a Task Force roadblock on July 12, 1997, of an Ogoni man, Barile Ikogbara, and the wounding of two others. However, MOSOP alleged that Umahi had attempted to cover up the killing by offering the family money in return for not speaking to the press.95 Nothing further has been reported in relation to whether any disciplinary action was in fact instituted. Often, when people are killed by the security forces, the body is not released to the family. Several of those Human Rights Watch spoke to had petitioned the commissioner of police or Major Umahi in cases where members of their family had been killed, but they had been intimidated to such an extent that they had given up even seeking release of the body for burial.

There was another crackdown in Ogoni around January 4, 1998, when once again Ogonis attempted to celebrate what has been known since 1993 as “Ogoni Day,” and once again the security forces did all they could to prevent them. According to reports from MOSOP’s London office, confirmed by human rights activists in the region, the Internal Security Task Force began a fresh roundup of suspected activists in late December. On January 3 and 4, several tens of people were detained, and arrests continued during the following days. On January 3, Batom Mitee, the brother of Ledum Mitee, who was tried with Ken Saro-Wiwa but acquitted, was detained at his hotel in Bori, the main Ogoni town. Eyewitnesses reported that he had been severely beaten with rifle butts and electric cables, as had Tombari Gioro, who was detained with him. MOSOP reported that two people were killed by security forces around Ogoni Day: Beatrice Nwakpasi, who was shotwhen soldiers opened fire into a group of dancing people on January 4; and Daniel Naador, who was arrested and beaten, and died on January 17 as a result of his injuries.96

MOSOP reported that on March 22, 1998, members of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Group and Operation Flush, an anti-crime unit in Rivers State, raided Ledum Mitee’s residence in Port Harcourt and ransacked the entire property, also beating a twelve-year-old girl on the premises. Barileresi Mitee, another of Ledum’s brothers, and Akpan George, a neighbor, were arrested and taken away. Batom and Barileresi Mitee, Akpan George, and Tombari Gioro, together with a number of other Ogonis, remained in detention until May 1998.97

Following the death of General Abacha in June 1998, the situation in Ogoni improved significantly. Nevertheless, MOSOP reported a series of new raids by the Internal Security Task Force in Sogho community on August 5, 6 and 7. A seventy-three year old man, Michael Nkpagayee, was said to have been severely beaten on August 6 and died on August 10 from his injuries. At least fourteen others were injured during the attack, including a fourteen-year-old boy whose leg was broken, and five were detained in Bori military camp.98

On September 7, 1998, the twenty Ogonis held on “holding charges” in connection with the 1994 murders were released unconditionally, and other detainees soon after.99 On September 12, the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force was withdrawn to barracks (including military camps within Ogoni), and on September 15, a demonstration of several thousand Ogonis went ahead without incident. At the end of October 1998, Ledum Mitee, acting president of MOSOP, returned to Ogoni from exile in Britain. On November 10, tens of thousands of Ogonis publicly commemorated the third anniversary of the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight co-defendants, for the first time able to do so in public: Mitee called for Shell to “clean up the mess you have made by Ogoni Day January 4, 2000, or clear out once and for all.”100

Attempts to Duplicate the MOSOP Protests

Across the Niger Delta, local people mention the name of Ken Saro-Wiwa with respect and admiration and ask how they can duplicate the success of MOSOP in closing down oil production in the Ogoni area. A variety of different ethnic associations have made representations to the government of Nigeria and the oil companies, presenting demands for recognition of their particular problems. Several of these associations have made explicit reference to the Ogoni situation.101 While similar associations have demanded recognition since at least the time of the debates leading up to Nigerian independence in 1960, the more recent demands have been noticeably radicalized by MOSOP’s own bill of rights. No other group has yet managed to match the cohesion and organization of MOSOP. However, the problems of communication and mobilization are much greater for the people living in the riverine areas than for the Ogonis, on dry land and only a half-hour by bus from Port Harcourt.

In October 1992, for example, the Movement for the Survival of the Izon (Ijaw) Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) presented an “Izon People’s Charter” to “the government and people of Nigeria.” The charter included an extensive discussion of state creation since independence and of the revenue allocation formulae applied to oil income, and demanded compensation for the oil revenue derived from their territory, as well as “political autonomy as a distinct and separate entity”outside the Nigerian state, with rights to control and use of oil, gas and other resources, based on agreements during the constitutional discussions leading up to independence and pre-colonial agreements with the British.

Similarly, on November 1, 1992, fifty-two traditional leaders from the Ogbia (an Ijaw subgroup, in whose territory the first Nigerian oil well at Oloibiri is situated) signed the Charter of Demands of the Ogbia People, drafted by the Movement for Reparation to Ogbia (Oloibiri) (MORETO). The demands listed include the repeal of the constitutional provisions giving ownership of minerals to the federal government and “a restoration of our rights to at least 50% of oil exploited in our land”; payment to the landlords of the area “all rents and royalties from the revenue from our crude oil since 1956,” an amount “conservatively estimated at £226.5 billion”; the payment of “the sum of £35.5 billion for the restitution of our environment and devastated ecology and for our development and protection against future effects of oil exploitation.”102

In August 1997, over a thousand people joined a rally at Aleibiri, Bayelsa State, for the launch of a new movement, Chikoko, named after the term for the soil the mangrove grows in. Unlike similar organizations, the Chikoko Movement aims to unite different ethnic groups, rather than representing one in particular. It describes itself as “a representative mass organisation for the defence of the rights of the ethnic minority nationalities in the rich Niger Delta Area,” standing for the “struggling unity of these ethnic minority nationalities against our common oppressors,” including the “Nigerian State,” “the ruling Nigerian elites in and out of uniform,” and “their Trans-national Oil corporation collaborators.” The Chikoko Movement calls for “the right to self-determination of the constituent ethnic nationalities of Nigeria to be recognised and enshrined in a new democratic Nigerian constitution,” and “an immediate end to all environmentally damaging economic activities by Trans-national oil corporations in the Niger Delta Area,” as well as the “abrogation of all obnoxious laws like the Land Use Decree and the Petroleum Decree that rob our people of the right to control our land and mineral resources for sustainable development of our area.”103

In December 1998, a gathering of Ijaw youths from different communities adopted a “Kaiama Declaration” which stated that “All land and natural resources (including mineral resources) within the Ijaw territory belong to Ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival” and demanded “the immediate withdrawal from Ijawland of all military forces of occupation and repression by the Nigerian state.” Accordingly, “Any oil company that employs the services of the armed forces of the Nigerian state to ‘protect’ its operations will be viewed as an enemy of the Ijaw people.” The meeting “agreed to remain within Nigeria but to demand and work for Self Government and resource control for the Ijaw people. ... the best way for Nigeria is a federation of ethnic nationalities. The federation should be run on the basis of equality and social justice.”104 On January 1, 1999, the Ijaw Youths Council formed at Kaiama launched “Operation Climate Change, a programme of direct action [which] will involve activities aimed at extinguishing gas flares,” by January 10, 1999.

Targeting of Community Leaders and Environmental Whistle-blowers

Potential or actual community leaders from human and environmental organizations, and especially from political movements attempting to organize resistance to the oil industry, have faced regular harassment from the authorities.105 While the situation for well-known activists has improved since General Abubakar became head of state, less well-known individuals are still targeted: as one youth put it “As soon as you raise your head there is trouble.”106 The following are examples of the many incidents of detention of activists from the delta region over the last few years.

· Nnimmo Bassey, director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA), one of the most outspoken groups criticizing oil company activities, was detained from June 5 to July 19, 1996, in Lagos, after being picked up at the international airport while on his way to an environmental conference in Ghana. He was detained again on October 26, 1997, and held for two days, after being picked up at the airport while returning from an environmental conference in Ecuador. His passport was retained by the State Security Service (SSS) on his release.

· Godwin Uyi Ojo, project officer with ERA, was detained from January 25 to February 10, 1996 in Lagos, and questioned about materials on the situation in Ogoni in his possession.

· Patrick Naagbanton of the Rivers Coalition and the Rivers State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organization and Uche Ukwukwu of the Niger Delta Human and Environmental Rescue Organization (ND-HERO), both activists protesting abuses in the delta region, including by the oil companies, were detained from November 7 to 17, 1996, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where they were distributing leaflets calling on students to commemorate the anniversary of the execution of the Ogoni Nine. Other members of ND-HERO werebeaten or detained for shorter periods in Port Harcourt during the same period.

· Bariara Kpalap, director of programs for ND-HERO and an Ogoni, was arrested on October 13, 1996 and held for almost a year in Afam camp, near Port Harcourt.

· On July 7, 1997, Chief Matthew Saturday Eregbene, head of the Oil Producing Communities Development Organisation and spokesperson for four communities which had won an award of _30 million (U.S.$333,000) against Shell in court (described below) and given SPDC a deadline of July 8 to pay the sum awarded or cease production, was detained by members of the SSS in Asaba, capital of Delta State. He was held overnight and released.

· Anyakwee Nsirimovu, director of the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Port Harcourt, was detained for two days at the border with the Benin Republic in July 1996, as he was returning from a human rights course in Canada. He was detained again in Port Harcourt for several days in January 1998, after issuing a statement protesting the security crackdown on Ogoni Day.

· Batom Mitee, brother of Ledum Mitee, a co-defendant with Ken Saro-Wiwa and himself a leader in MOSOP, was detained from January 3, 1998, to May 1998.

· Isaac Osuoka, an activist with ERA seconded to coordinate the African section of Oil Watch, an international coalition of organizations protesting the effects of oil company operations on the communities in which they operate, was arrested on May 26, 1998, while he was attending a conference of the African Forest Action Network in Lagos, and was held until June 26. On May 28, Bamidele Aturu, a lawyer contracted by ERA on Osuoka’s behalf, was also arrested as he attempted to secure bail for his client at Surulere police station, Lagos; he was released on June 8.107

The offices of human rights, environmental, and other nongovernmental organizations in Port Harcourt and other towns in the region were regularly raided under the Abacha government—as in Lagos and elsewhere in Nigeria. Members of the State Security Service (SSS) visited the offices of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law on dozens of occasions during 1997 and 1998, often confiscating materials from the office. The offices of Environmental Rights Action in Port Harcourt and Benin City have also been the subject of SSS raids, as have the offices of ND-HERO and the residence of Dr. M.T. Akobo, chairman of theSouthern Minorities Movement. In February 1998, Felix Tuodolo, energy and climate change project officer with ERA, was evicted from his home on the grounds of security force harassment of others living in the same compound. On occasion, the security forces have also arrested, beaten or intimidated relatives of activists: in November 1997, the mother and sister of Ogoni student activist Sunny Kogbo were detained in the days before the anniversary of the 1995 executions. Even development organizations not involved in any sort of political activism have in the past been threatened by a visit from the security forces. The same process operates at all levels: a chief in Obite, who by his own admission took a “low profile” but had been educated in Europe and the U.S. and was therefore regarded as a potential spokesperson by his community, described how his house had been searched by police a few months before we interviewed him, on the allegation that he was handling firearms and stolen goods. Some of his possessions had been taken away but later returned.108

Foreigners visiting the oil producing communities, especially whites, who are conspicuous, are automatically suspicious. In May 1998, Shelley Braithwaite, a visiting doctoral student based in the U.K., was questioned in Ogbia town in the Niger Delta, after spending a day collecting water and soil samples from the surrounding creeks. Members of the State Security Service and uniformed police spent one hour attempting to find out her purpose in the delta, how she had met her guide there, and whether her “mission” was anything to do with the oil companies, since “the only white people who come to the area want to cause trouble for the oil industry.”109

Journalists in Nigeria under the Abacha government were frequently the target of arbitrary detention for criticizing the government. Those reporting on developments in the oil communities have also been subject to harassment.

· In July 1997, at the launch of the Chikoko movement, five journalists from the Nigerian press were arrested at Ogbia town and questioned for several hours (Joseph Ollor-Obari of the Guardian, Doifie Ola of the Post Express, Wisdom Dike of The Week, Casmir Igbokwe of Tempo/PM News, and Tokunbo Awosakin of This Day). The rally was relocated to Aleibiri as a result of the security crackdown.

· In March 1998, Chidi Nkwopara, Imo State correspondent for the National Concord, and Donatus Njoku, a reporter with the Statesman were arrested while visiting Agip’s Akri flow station in Oguta, Imo State, to investigate ablow out which took place on March 6, reportedly damaging a large area of land. They were detained overnight and allegedly accused of espionage.110

· On March 9, 1998, Sam Akpe, a journalist with the Akwa Ibom State government-owned newspaper, the Weekend Pioneer, was reported to have suspended without pay on the orders of the military administrator after writing an article in the March 6 edition entitled “The Spill Continues” about the effects of the January Mobil spill. Akpe was also accused of taking bribes from Mobil, in what he claimed to be a groundless campaign to discredit him.111

Day-to-day Protest and Repression in the Oil Producing Communities

Virtually every oil producing community—on the basis of Human Rights Watch’s own investigations and on reports from human rights and environmental activists working in the region—has experienced an incident along the following lines. Community members stage a protest demanding compensation for oil company activities (often stated to have been promised in prior agreements) in the form of cash, development projects, or employment, or calling for environmental cleanup; in response to the protest, members of the Mobile Police or other security forces come to the scene; the security forces carry out indiscriminate beatings, arrests and detentions; the protest is then abandoned. In some cases, oil companies have apparently responded to the demands to some extent, in others they have been ignored. This cycle remains the same today.

As an indication of the frequency with which oil companies face serious protests at their activities, the following incidents resulting from community demands of oil companies were reported in the international press. Because such incidents are often only reported if the oil stops flowing, they represent only the most serious threats to oil production and are not a complete record: Human Rights Watch has not been able to investigate these disturbances itself.

· In March 1997, youths captured a barge delivering goods to a Chevron installation. The crew of seventy Nigerians and twenty expatriates were held hostage for three days by youths demanding jobs on the vessel. Following negotiations, in which money was paid to the protesters, the barge wasallowed to go offshore, when the navy then boarded it and rescued the hostages.112

· In August 1997, the Iyokiri community in Rivers State blocked access to SPDC employees seeking to repair a leak, demanding compensation be paid first, causing three flow stations to be closed for several days.113

· In September 1997, the 10,000 bpd Diebu flow station in Bayelsa State was closed for several weeks as a result of a dispute with the Peremabiri community which was demanding compensation for fishing nets damaged by an oil spill in June.114

· In October 1997, the Odeama flow station in Bayelsa state was closed for several days by youths demanding that fifty of them be employed by SPDC.115

· In October 1997, youths in Gelegele village, near Warri, Delta State, halted production for several days at a well yielding up to 2,000 bpd operated by Dubri Oil Company, an indigenous Nigerian operator. The youths were protesting the effect of the gas flaring on their village.116

· In November 1997, Nigerian opposition radio reported that about 3,000 people from Ekakpamre village near Ughelli in Delta State had forced the closure of Ughelli West flow station for several days, demanding _20 million (U.S.$222,000) compensation for encroachment on their land, a new access road and other projects. Shell confirmed that about 6,500 bpd had been shut in by the protest.117

· From November 25 to December 23, 1997, Tunu and Opukoshi flowstations, together pumping 80,000 bpd, were closed by villagers, forcing Shell to declare on December 19 that it would be unable to meet all commitments on time at its Forcados terminal from December 21, to January 11.118

· From December 13 to December 17, 1997, thirteen employees of Western Geophysical were held hostage by youths in a barge off the coast of Ondo State.119

· Odeama Creek flowstation, pumping 18,000 bpd, was closed for several days in January 1998 by youths demanding environmental tests, a reduction of gas flaring, clean water supply and other projects from Shell.120

· From January 20, 1998, Texaco’s offshore Funiwa platform was occupied for about one week by youths from the neighboring Koluama community, shutting in about 55,000 bpd.121

· In March 1998, SPDC reported that it had shut in 200,000 bpd at its Tora manifold in the Nembe area, after youths had protested calling for compensation, jobs and development projects.122

· From March 10 to 20, 1998, Texaco’s Funiwa platform was again occupied for over a week by youths from Koluama, causing an eleven day slippage in the export loading schedule from the Pennington terminal.123

· From April 28 to May 11, 1998, Shell’s flowstations at Odidi and Egwa in Delta State were closed by protesting youths.124

· From May 25 to June 2, 1998, youths occupied Chevron’s Parabe Platform, offshore from Ondo State, and held workers hostage (see below for further details).

Since the death of Gen. Sani Abacha in June 1998, the relaxation of repression signaled by the withdrawal of the Internal Security Task Force from Ogoni, and the institution of a more credible program to hand over power to civilian government by new head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, oil stoppages have escalated. At the end of August 1998, Nigeria was losing 800,000 bpd, and disruption continued at high levels for the rest of the year; though operators were able to compensate by boosting output elsewhere and overall production in fact increased from July to November.125

· In June, 1998, villagers protesting a spillage closed four wells and disrupted exports from Agip’s Brass terminal, and the military administrator of Bayelsa State declared a curfew.126 Exports were stopped again due to protests in August.127

· In July 1998, SPDC reported that 40,000 bpd had been shut in at its Nun river flowstation; the previous week, youths at Nembe hijacked a helicopter and forced the evacuation of staff.128 60,000 bpd production from Nembe was again closed for several days in August.129

· In late July and August, 1998, a number of workers were held hostage for several weeks on two oil support vessels working for Texaco to repair wells producing 3,000 bpd at the Okubie platform, near the community of Kolomo, in connection with disputes over compensation payments following a leak which had affected the coastline of six communities. Further hostage taking incidents occurred in August.130

· Disturbances at Nembe shut in at least 440,000 bpd of output and forced both Shell and Agip to declare force majeure on exports in early October 1998.131 Ten Shell facilities, producing about 200,000 bpd, were still shut in as of mid-November.132

· On October 9, approximately 400 youths occupied Shell’s Forcados terminal for several hours, protesting non-payment of compensation for Mobil’s January oil spill. Fifteen Shell flow stations remained closed for much of the following month.133

· On October 14, youths seized control of two Chevron flow stations, at Abiteye and Olero Creek, near Escravos on the Atlantic coast, taking some thirty workers hostage for two days.134

· From November 12 to 18, eight oil workers employed by Texaco were held hostage by youths from the community of Foropah, near Warri, demanding social investment in their village and compensation for a recent oil spill.135

· On December 9, youths again occupied Shell’s Forcados terminal protesting the Mobil spill, but were removed one day later.136

The incidents described below were investigated by Human Rights Watch in July 1997 and are described in chronological order, together with information Human Rights Watch has received relating to more recent incidents from 1998. In each case, the oil company involved was invited to comment on our findings, and any information supplied is incorporated in our account. Although the overall political climate in Nigeria has changed dramatically since these cases were investigated, the situation in the delta communities has changed little, and incidents of the type described here continue to occur on a regular basis.

The cases we investigated can be grouped under two broad thematic headings. On the one hand, there are those incidents where community members have made demands for compensation for oil company activities, whether in the form of cash payments following spillages or land expropriation, development projects in communities close to oil installations, or employment of local community members when work is being carried out in the vicinity. On the other, there is the general and apparently untargeted harassment of community members that is consequent on the security provided for oil operations.

In many incidents, oil companies describe protests by local youths as purely criminal in purpose, aimed at extorting benefits to which they are not entitled from the oil industry. These same incidents are described by the youths involved as a fight for their rights. According to Chevron, for example, “In some cases, the youths simply try to extort money from personnel working on barges and drilling rigs without reason or based on some fabricated excuse.”137 Thus, “Because of the level of poverty in most of the remote areas, there are ... many cases of unscrupulous claims for compensation for damages that cannot be substantiated.”138 While Chevron identifies the disproportion between the wealth of the oil company and the poverty of the oil producing areas as an important contributor to conflict, it sees the protests that result as criminal only. The youths who make what Chevron describes as “unscrupulous” claims put it differently: “We have committed ourselves to the fight against environmental degradation, social and economic injustice in our land. Chevron pays soldiers to kill us and has bribed thepolice to keep us away.”139 Or, more generally, “When we demand our rights, they [the oil companies] just send the Mobile Police.”140

Suppression of Demands for Compensation:

Damages, Development Projects, and Employment

During June and July 1995, there were major disturbances in Egbema, Imo State, after youths demonstrated against Shell, demanding, among other issues, the installation of a gas turbine to supply electricity for the community. The first protest happened on June 14 and 15, when youths occupied the residential area at the flow station for two days. Youths interviewed by Human Rights Watch admitted that a certain amount of property was stolen from the flow station at this point, mostly bedding and food. Two weeks later a further protest took place, when community members marched to the gate of the Shell premises, which by this time were guarded by a large number of Mobile Police.141 The police responded violently to this protest, carrying out indiscriminate beatings and arrests and using teargas freely. Many were beaten who were not involved in the protest but were simply passersby. More than thirty people were arrested, of whom about eight were women, and some were teenagers. They were detained at Owerri for one to three weeks, and charged with sabotage, though the case was later adjourned indefinitely. A number of Mobile Police remained stationed in the community for several months. In response to Human Rights Watch’s inquiries, Shell stated that it was not aware of any arrests, and that: “The issue was amicably settled with the community after the meeting with the Governor.”142 While there are always differences of interpretation of events, this incident was clearly a major event in the life of the community, and Human Rights Watch finds it extraordinary that SPDC has no knowledge of the arrests. Since 1995, SPDC has undertaken a number of development projects in the area, including the initiation of a youth training scheme organized through the chief.143

On August 24, 1995, conflict between a Shell contractor and a local community over employment opportunities led to the killing of a teacher at Iko, Akwa Ibom State. There had been serious disturbances in Iko in 1987, when Mobile Police had burnt forty houses to the ground following a protest against Shell, and in 1995 the village of Iko was still badly affected by a malfunctioning flare which was flooded by salt water at high tide, allowing salt from sea water to be vaporized and shot out over the village, killing vegetation and corroding sheet metal roofing.144 In August 1995, Western Geophysical, a seismic survey company, came to the nearby Utapete flow station, close to the Atlantic coast, to carry out a three-dimensional survey on behalf of SPDC.145 According to community members, the company was approached to seek employment for local people in carrying out the survey: villagers reported to Human Rights Watch that representatives of Western Geophysical accordingly came to the village accompanied by a number of naval officers and negotiations took place with community leaders in the chief’s house. Eyewitnesses described how, some time after the Western Geophysical representatives had left, a detachment of Mobile Police came to the community, fired teargas and beat people at random. During this incident, a school teacher from the village, Emmanuel Nelson, who had been interpreting during the meeting, was beaten to death. Up to twenty people were detained, beaten, and put in police vehicles, although they were released at the next village, on the appeal of two senior members of the community.146

Shell, responding to Human Rights Watch on the basis of information it stated was supplied by Western Geophysical, described the incident differently. According to Shell, youths seized three vehicles belonging to Western Geophysical on August 23, and on August 24 blocked the main access road, and detained four of seven boats, in order “to highlight their displeasure over the number of job opportunities allocated to their community by the contractors.” As a result of this situation, Western Geophysical asked the navy to try to recover their boats and to guard their houseboats; the navy was called rather than police as a result of the terrain, and Shell denies that navy representatives were present during negotiationswith the community.147 Furthermore, the company states that the Mobile Police were called in by the navy, not by SPDC or Western Geophysical, and arrived in Iko “some five and a half hours after the navy had been informed of the incident.” Western Geophysical confirmed that they had been approached for assistance in the burial and transport of a body, but “this request was denied as we believe that this incident is unrelated to Western’s seismic activities.”148

Human Rights Watch spoke to several eyewitnesses who described the beating to death of Emmanuel Nelson on August 24, 1995, and believes their accounts to be accurate, and that the death was closely linked to Western Geophysical’s activities near the village. Furthermore, regardless of any acts of force, such as boat seizures, carried out by local youths, it is clear that the response of the security forces to the dispute between the community and Shell’s contractor was indiscriminate violence against the community as a whole. There are no allegations that Emmanuel Nelson himself was involved in any illegal activity. No protest at this violence was apparently lodged with the authorities by Western Geophysical or Shell, although the security force presence in the village was directly related to Western Geophysical’s request for assistance.

In September 1995, a youth from Elele, Rivers State, where Elf operates several wells, went to speak to Saipem, a contractor for Elf, on behalf of his family on whose land one of Elf’s wells was located. The family believed that, since land had been taken for the operation of oil production, they should be compensated in some way for any new activity on the land and the youth was delegated to make representations on their behalf. The public relations representative for Saipem told the youth that he should go to speak to Elf; but while the meeting was going on, three soldiers came to the caravan where the meeting was taking place and took the youth to the nearby military cantonment, where he was detained two days and severely beaten. When he was released he spent two weeks in hospital. The family stated that a representative from Elf’s offices in Port Harcourt did later come to the site to discuss the company’s relationship with the family concerned, but that nothing was done for them and no steps were taken by Elf to intervene with the military in respect of the injuries the youth sustained.149

In early 1996, a spillage took place at Uheri, Isoko South local government area, Delta State, for which compensation was agreed. There was a delay in payment—according to Shell, this was because there was a need to “clarify duplicated claims by various groups in the community”—and a number of youths protested at the flow station, telling the workers there to stop production. Federal police came from the divisional police station and arrested six of the dozen youths involved, held them overnight at the police station and released them the next day. According to Shell, the spill was reported to Chief Idu Amadi, chair of the local government authority, who requested the intervention of the police “apparently because he was irritated and embarrassed by the youths’ failure to dialogue with SPDC.”150

Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of youths from Yenezue-Gene, near SPDC’s Gbaran oil field in Rivers State, who described how, in March 1996, seven of them went to Mife Construction, a contractor to SPDC, asking for work. According to the youths, the engineer at the site told soldiers posted to provide security to Mife to take the youths to the main construction camp, supposedly to see if employment was available. The soldiers took the youths to the camp, but then told them to strip, forced them to crawl on the road, and beat them with electric cable. They were then taken to the police station in Yenagoa, detained for several hours, until community members came to release them, paying _1,500 (U.S.$17) each for their release. They spent two days in hospital recovering from their injuries. Community members stated that the case had been reported to Shell, although no court case had been opened or compensation received as a result of this incident.151 According to Shell, “soldiers have never been used on this project site,” and the company has no knowledge of “incidents of assault, detention and rape,” although “due to community hostilities, the contractor asked for the services of Nigeria Police through the Divisional Police at Yenagoa to protect life and property.”152 Human Rights Watch confirmed with local residents interviewed that the security detail present at the site were soldiers and not police. In any event, senior Shell management was apparently unaware of the serious assaults on seven youths.

In Egbema, Rivers State, which neighbors Egbema, Imo State, community members came together in 1996 to demand that Agip, the operator of a flow station close to the village, provide electricity to the village. The delegation was led byChief COB Aliba, and met with Agip’s community relations officer, who stated that it would be too expensive to purchase the necessary transformer. Following the meeting, youths from the village, dissatisfied with the result, began impounding Agip vehicles as they passed through the community. While the matter was still under negotiation, members of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, led by Major Umahi, came to Chief Aliba’s house and arrested him, with nineteen others, taking them to one of the Task Force’s premises in Ogoni. They were held two weeks from June 26, 1996, and released without charge upon petition from other community members. Community members said that they believed that the Task Force, which is usually deployed in Ogoni, several hours drive away, must have been summoned at the request of Agip.153 Agip did not respond to inquiries about this incident.

On January 4, 1997, Prince Ugo, the secretary of the Umugo youth association in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Authority in Rivers State went looking for work to the Obite gas project construction site, which will collect associated gas from Elf’s Obagi oil field to feed into the Nigerian LNG project (a joint venture between NNPC, Shell, Elf and Agip; the site is operated by Elf), where C&C Construction was the main contractor (owned by the Chagoury family, who were close to the former head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha). He was told to leave, but protested, and was then beaten for up to one hour, at his own estimation, by several members of the Mobile Police stationed at the site, and subsequently locked in one of the trailers at the site for several hours. He was released after elders from the community and the chair of the youth association pleaded for him: several other youths from the area had also recently been beaten or detained by Mobile Police stationed at the LNG project. He reported the incident to the police station, but although the police took a statement, he was told that nothing could be done since the Mobile Police were involved. After opening a case for compensation the young man was approached several times by personnel from C&C suggesting that he should settle out of court.154 Since visiting the location, Human Rights Watch has been told by the youth concerned that, on September 25, 1997, the project manager of C&C threatened him, stating that “if I don’t withdraw the case from court, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s case should be crystal clear for me to learn lesson.” Nevertheless, he still refused to settle. On September 26, 1997, armedmen from the State Security Service (SSS) came to his home to look for him. He escaped through the window, slept overnight in the bush, and, on returning to his house and finding that his brother had been detained in his stead, fled several days later to Togo.155

In January 1997, over one hundred youths held a demonstration at SPDC’s Ahia Flow Station, Omudioga, in Rivers State. The youths demanded that Shell carry out development projects in their village, including tarring the road, completing a water project and providing electricity: a tarred road currently leads to the flow station, but bypasses the village (understandably annoying local residents); a water project has been begun but not completed, and electricity poles have been erected, but no cables are attached.156 The youths went to the flow station, demanded that the staff there close down production, and occupied the site. About fifteen members of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force came to the flow station and arrested twelve of the youths. They were taken to Bori camp near Port Harcourt and detained for one month; for the first five days they were beaten every morning, and teargas canisters were fired into their cell on a number of occasions. They were eventually released without charge, with a warning that they should not hold any protests about development projects or they would be detained again.157 SPDC denied knowledge of this incident, stating that “the relationship with the community has been cordial.”158

In 1978, a serious spillage took place at Opukoshi flow station located next to the village of Obotobo, Delta State. As a consequence the villagers moved away, some to an area on the edge of the ocean facing the Forcados oil field a kilometer or so away from the original site, a community now known as Obotobo I; others further away to a settlement now known as Obotobo II. Obotobo I is a small settlement accessed by a dirt track that leads off a metaled road constructed by SPDC from the jetty where boats moor, bringing personnel and supplies from the mainland to the flow station. A water tank has been installed in the village and a generator donated by SPDC; neither were functioning at the time of HumanRights Watch’s visit in July 1997. In late June 1997 the community sent a delegation to the houseboat from which a contractor was currently undertaking work, to demand that Shell tar the section of the road leading to the community. While they were there, two speed boats containing about twenty soldiers came. The soldiers fired into the air, but did not arrest anyone. According to those living there, most of the villagers ran into the bush, until the army had gone.159 In correspondence with Human Rights Watch, Shell stated that they had no knowledge of this incident, stating that no contractor was working in the area for SPDC at the time; and, in addition, that at the time of writing the generator was working.160

In July 1997, ten youths from Edagberi, Rivers State, were detained for a day at Ahoada police station. They had gone to Alcon Engineering, a contractor for SPDC, demanding that Alcon provide diesel for the community, in accordance with an agreement that they understood to have been made with the company as compensation for the disturbance caused by the operations in the community. According to SPDC, no such agreement in fact existed, although there had been an agreement for the provision of an electricity project.161 Those youths with whom Human Rights Watch spoke reported that the community relations officer for Alcon had said that he would report back to them, but instead they were called to report to the area police commander at Ahoada.162 They went to the police station, where the commander said that Alcon had laid a complaint against them: Shell confirmed to Human Rights Watch that Alcon had lodged a formal written complaint with the divisional police commander “for the record” as a result of numerous road blockages by community youths and physical threats to Alcon staff. The letter did not make any stipulations that the security forces should exerciserestraint or avoid abusing the rights of the communities concerned.163 The youths were held overnight and for most of the next day, before being released without charge.164

In July 1997, a youth by the name of Gidikumo Sule was killed by Mobile Police in Opuama, Delta State in the course of a dispute with a Chevron contractor. Opuama is one of the communities affected by a canal dredged by Chevron which has drastically affected the local hydrology, causing great damage to local fishing grounds. Accounts of the incident given by his colleagues and by Chevron, the oil company involved, differ. According to Chevron, a group of youths stopped a barge owned by Halliburton, a contractor, and blocked the access creek to a Chevron facility, demanding that the barge pay money to them in order to be allowed to pass through community waters. Money was paid, but when the barge attempted to return the same way, the youths again stormed the barge and forced it to return to their village. By this account, two Nigerian police accompanying the barge radioed to their bases, notifying them of the situation. The crew were, however, taken hostage by the youths, relieved of their valuables, and the two policemen, who were armed, had their rifles taken from them.165 Mobile Police were sent to rescue the hostages in response to the radio call, and Gidikumo Sule was killed in this effort. According to Chevron, their community relations staff immediately went to the community to investigate the incident, and theirunderstanding is that: “A death had resulted while the Nigeria Mobile Police were trying to free their colleagues who had been illegally detained by community youths after an attempt at extortion turned sour. This was, to us, entirely a Police affair. It had to do with the breaking of the law of the land.”166 Chevron say that they were asked for assistance to transport the corpse to Warri for burial and for other expenses, and that “we were at first reluctant, however, on grounds of compassion we yielded.” They provided transportation and offered _250,000 (U.S.$2,780) to the family of the youth, “on compassionate grounds and nothing more.”

According to one of the youths involved, however, the order of events was different. He stated that the barge had been stopped because Chevron had failed to employ any local youths during their operations close to the village, as they understood to have been agreed when the operations began several weeks earlier. While the protest was going on, Mobile Police had shot and killed Gidikumo Sule, and the protesters had then detained and beaten up the other police. The payment of money to the community was believed to be an attempt to silence the chiefs of the area, and the youths had not wanted the money to be accepted. “No amount of intimidation or threats will stop our movement, because we are fighting for our rights: now is not a time for petition writing but for action.”167 Chevron did not report to Human Rights Watch that the company had undertaken any sort of investigation into the methods used by the police, having determined that it was “a police affair,” expressed any concern to the authorities about the actions of the Mobile Police that led to the death of the youth, or taken any steps to avoid a similar incident in future.

The major spill from a Mobil pipeline on January 12, 1998 led to protests in a number of affected communities. In Eket, Akwa Ibom State, near to Mobil’s Qua Iboe terminal, youths protested in a near-riot on January 19 and 20, demanding that Mobil establish a claims office in Eket itself. According to press reports, the military administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Navy Captain Joseph Adeusi, spent over nine hours negotiating with several thousand demonstrators and at one stage was manhandled by the crowd and had stones thrown at his vehicle. Eventually, following meetings with leaders of the demonstrators, it was agreed that Mobil would establish a claims office in Eket, and Mobil representatives signed a document to this effect. Up to three hundred people were later reported to havebeen detained in connection with the demonstrations.168 In July 1998, it was reported that police shot dead eleven people during further demonstrations in Warri, Delta State, over compensation payments resulting from the spill. In August, the Cross River State government stated that Mobil had not yet paid compensation to claimants in communities affected by the spill.169 Mobil failed to respond to several requests from Human Rights Watch for information about the spill, compensation payments, and the subsequent protests.

In May 1998, a major hostage taking incident took place at Chevron’s Parabe Platform, fifteen kilometers offshore from Ilaje/Ese-Eso local government area, Ondo State. Like Opuama, this area is affected by Chevron dredging that has disrupted fresh water supplies and fishing grounds; there have also been a number of oil spills that have caused further damage. On May 25, approximately 120 youths, describing themselves as the “Concerned Ilaje Citizens,” occupied the platform, as well as a large construction barge operated by McDermott/EPTM, a company contracted to carry out an equipment upgrade on the platform, and a tugboat, the Cheryl Anne, in the service of another contractor. Altogether, 200 employees of Chevron and its contractors were at the facilities, and were prevented from leaving. The leader of the youths, Bola Oyinbo, interviewed by the Nigerian nongovernmental organization Environmental Rights Action, described the occupation as a “peaceful protest ... against the continuing destruction of our environment by Chevron,” following the failure of Chevron to participate in negotiations with the group; in particular, the failure of Chevron to come to a meeting arranged by the military administrator of Ondo State on May 7 and a subsequent meeting called by the youths themselves on May 15.170 Chevron reported that the group demanded employment on the construction barge and a guaranteed annual employment quota of Ilaje residents in Chevron’s workforce; more scholarships awarded to local communities; _25 million (U.S.$278,000) as reparation for “sea incursion and erosion of their communities caused by Chevron operations over the years”; and _10 million (U.S.$111,000) as the expenses incurred to carry out the occupation of the platform.171 Interestingly, minutes supplied to Human Rights Watch by Chevron of a meeting between Chevron andanother group of local residents who “strongly dissociated themselves” from the Concerned Ilaje Citizens, indicate that this group too, while thanking Chevron for certain initiatives “appealed additionally to the company to do something for the plight of their women and elderly people generally whom they claimed could no longer fish in the creeks due to siltation caused by the company’s dredging activities in the past, and sea water incursion resulting from the canals opened up to the sea.” The group believed that “the company can really not pay for the damage caused by its operation.”172

Negotiations ensued with Chevron representatives on the platform at Escravos and in Lagos, and Mr. Deji Haastrup came from Chevron’s Lagos office to the platform during May 26 and met with the youths. He agreed to go onshore, with the community relations manager, Sola Adebawo, to meet with elders at Ikorigho community; according to Chevron, he also promised an upward review of scholarships by the end of the year, and agreed to give the youths sixteen more jobs on the project to upgrade the Parabe platform, in addition to sixteen Ilaje youths already hired—although they would not in fact be required to work since no further workers were actually needed—and to backdate their employment to March 1998. The youths stated that navy personnel stationed on the platform were present throughout these negotiations. According to Chevron, production at the platform was immediately shut down by the youths when they began their occupation, although the group leader alleged to Environmental Rights Action that production continued through Wednesday May 27.

Chevron states that the situation was reported to the Ondo State government and the federal law enforcement agencies on May 27. On Thursday May 28, three helicopters came to the platform. The youth leader alleged that the security force members discharged from the helicopters shot at the youths, even before they landed, killing two people, Jola Ogungbeje and Aroleka Irowaninu, and also fired teargas canisters. Chevron, on the other hand, stated to Human Rights Watch that there was “no shooting at all until one of the youths attempted to disarm the law enforcement officers.”173 In addition to the two men killed, one was seriously injured, and later taken by Chevron for treatment at its Escravos clinic and then to the American Baptist hospital in Warri. According to press reports, Chevron agreed in early July 1998 at a meeting held at the military administrator’s office in Akure, the capital of Ondo State, to pay _350,000 (U.S.$3,890) in compensationto each of the families of the men killed at the platform, though the company initially refused to negotiate on this point.174

Oyinbo alleged that, during radio conversations he had with Deji Haastrup after the soldiers had taken control of the platform, Haastrup responded to the charge that Chevron was responsible for the deaths of the two men by saying “if it means blowing up the platform with you inside, I will not mind doing that.”175 This is denied by Chevron.176 Eleven youths were eventually detained and taken to the Chevron facility at Escravos and then to the Warri naval base, and, on May 31, to Akure, the capital of Ondo State, where they were questioned by the State Intelligence and Investigation Bureau and detained until June 22, when they were released without charge. Bola Oyinbo, the leader of the group, reported torture while in detention: he said he was hung for several hours by his handcuffed hands from a hook in the ceiling. The other youths left the platform, although, according to Chevron, several continued to occupy the tugboat, Cheryl Anne, with five expatriate hostages on board who were taken to villages onshore. Chevron reported this to the Ondo State government “with a strong appeal for government to help in securing the release of the abducted persons.”177 Chevron stated that these final hostages were released on May 31, following negotiations between Chevron, government agencies, and a leading traditional ruler in the area.

In an interview broadcast on Pacifica Radio in New York on October 1, 1998, Sola Omole, general manager of public affairs for Chevron in Nigeria, acknowledged that Chevron management had authorized the call for the navy to intervene, and had flown the navy and Mobile Police to the platform. Chevron Nigeria’s acting head of security, James Neku, who accompanied the security forces in the helicopters, also confirmed that the youths on the platform had been unarmed. A representative of the contractor EPTM, Bill Spencer, stated that one of those killed was actually attempting to mediate the confrontation. Spencer also alleged that Chevron had paid for this protection, although a spokesperson for Chevron headquarters in San Francisco responded to press inquiries that “we categorically deny we paid a dime to any law enforcement representative.”178 Despite these serious allegations, Chevron did not indicate, in response to inquiriesfrom Human Rights Watch, that any concern had been expressed to the authorities over the incident or any steps taken to avoid future loss of life. Bill Spencer, Chevron’s contractor, asked by Pacifica Radio whether he was concerned for those detained by the Nigerian authorities, stated: “I was more concerned about the 200 people who work for me. I couldn’t care less about the people from the village quite frankly.”179 Chevron declined to comment on the material in this broadcast, stating that “we do not intend to engage in further correspondence with Human Rights Watch on this issue,” though Human Rights Watch should “be assured, however, that Chevron is committed to maintaining its positive long-term relationships with our local communities and will continue our dialogue with the leaders and the people of those communities.”180

On September 21, 1998, several thousand women from Egi community in Rivers State demonstrated at Elf’s nearby Obite gas project, protesting the actions of security officers at the facility, demanding the release of an environmental impact assessment for the project, and calling for social investment in the community. According to information received by Human Rights Watch, a confrontation ensued between youths of the community and Mobile Police based at the site, during which youths destroyed property at the site, while one youth was stabbed and severely wounded, and twenty-one detained. The twenty-one were held without charge until a local human rights organization applied to court, and they were charged and released on bail. A meeting was subsequently held with representatives of Elf, at which the demands were again presented. On October 11, 1998, Prince Ugo, a youth leader from the community (the same individual who said he was threatened by C&C Construction), was attacked by individuals he believed to be guards employed by Elf at its Obite gas project and by Mobile Police deployed at the facility. He was severely beaten, suffering injuries requiring hospitalization, including a punctured left lung. On November 23, an even larger women’s demonstration was held, with the same demands. Following the demonstration, Ponticelli, a contractor to Elf at the site, announced that a particular security officer would be removed from the site, as demanded by the demonstrators.181 In response to correspondence from Human Rights Watchconcerning these incidents, Elf stated that it “neither knows Prince Ugo nor is it aware of any attack on his person,” though the company was “aware that some youths were questioned by the police for looting and vandalising EPNL’s Obite Gas Project offices on Monday 21 September 1998, following the women’s demonstration. The community approached EPNL to intervene on their behalf for the release of the detainees. Since their arrests bordered on crime, EPNL could not tell the law enforcement agencies what to do.”182 Human Rights Watch believes that whatever the reason for security force intervention, oil companies have a responsibility to monitor their behavior and take all steps to ensure that it is not abusive.

On December 30, 1998, Ijaw youths protesting against the oil companies and in support of the “Kaiama Declaration” adopted on December 11, 1998, demonstrated in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, and several other locations across the delta, calling on the multinational oil companies to withdraw from Ijaw territories, “pending the resolution of the issue of resource ownership and control.”183 Thousands of troops and navy personnel were brought into the region in response to these protests. In Yenagoa itself, at least seven youths were reported to have been shot dead by security forces on December 30, and another sixteen the following day in nearby communities. Twelve youth leaders were detained, including T.K. Ogoriba, the president of MOSIEND; the Bayelsa State police commissioner, Nahum Eli, stated that they were being held in “protective custody” and would be released as soon as the security situation improved. The military administrator of Bayelsa State, Lt.-Col. Paul Obi, declared a state of emergency and a dusk to dawn curfew across the state, which was lifted on the evening of January 3, 1999, although a ban on meetings, processions and other gatherings remained in place.184 Addressing the situation in the delta in his January 1, 1999, budget speech, head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar stated:

This administration is also aware of the dissatisfaction among certain segments of our population arising from certain government actions or inactions in the past. Genuine as such grievances may be, we cannot allow the continued reckless expression of such feelings. The developments in the oil producing areas of Niger Delta region is a case in point. While we appreciate the feelings of the people in the area over their sad condition, this administration notes with great displeasure the disruptions of the activities of oil companies government and private enterprises by rampaging youths. Seizure of oil wells, rigs and platforms as well as hostage-taking and vehicular-hijacking, all in the name of expressing grievances are totally unacceptable to this administration. We are no doubt committed to freedom of expression, the right to dissent, and all other basic freedoms and rights that are the hallmarks of a decent, civilized, open society. The recent activities in the Niger Delta region are a flagrant abuse of our commitment to such rights and freedoms. This administration will not allow lawlessness and anarchy to camouflage as right or freedom. We will not accept brazen challenge to the State authority under threat of violence as recently happened in the Niger Delta region. Government has a responsibility to safeguard the state and the security of life and property of all its citizens and those of foreign nationals on our soil carrying out their legitimate pre-occupations. This administration is resolved to do just that. I will, therefore appeal to all those that have been engaged in the unacceptable excesses of the recent past in the region to stop such actions henceforth, in the interest of peace and decency. This administration is convinced that the Niger Delta region stands to reap tremendous dividend by dissent through dialogue rather than dissent through violence. Such is the path to a civilized and great society which we are all striving to build.185

As this report went to press reports reached Human Rights Watch that more than one hundred people had been killed in and around Kaiama, Bayelsa State, a sizeable Ijaw community accessible by road, by soldiers over the new year weekend. Some of these youths had reported been killed in confrontations with the military; some had been summarily executed in searches of vehicles or homes. Ten to twenty houses were reported to have been burnt down, and the community leftdeserted. Further disturbances took place in Okpoma, near Shell’s Forcados terminal on the Atlantic coast.186

Other Abuses Resulting from Oil Company Security

The simple presence of the security forces posted to guard oil production facilities causes communities to face additional harassment and extortion, beyond that to which all Nigerians are subjected by the military regimes which have ruled Nigeria for all but ten years since independence. Ordinary community members with the misfortune to have farms or fishing grounds near an oil facility may be subjected to daily harassment from security guards as they go about their work. In September 1995, to take one example, a woman from Yenezue-Gene, near Gbaran oil field, Rivers State, was raped by soldiers posted to guard Mife Construction, a contractor to SPDC. When her husband went to protest he was beaten, forced to eat a lighted cigarette, and locked in a caravan for several hours. On other occasions, soldiers had stolen fish from women of the community at the roadside. Police posted at the camp at the time of Human Rights Watch’s visit also regularly threatened the women, who consequently ran into the forest any time they came by, in fear of further harassment or assault.187

Sometimes there also appears to be a presumption of wrongdoing by the victims of an oil spill, a presumption that the landholders must be responsible if sabotage has occurred. In the case from Obobura, Rivers State, described above in the discussion of the law relating to sabotage, for example, five members of the landholder’s family were detained, either on suspicion of sabotage or as a means of intimidation to stop any protests, in early January 1997 following a spill on December 31, 1996, which wiped out their crops. They were released without charge, and there is apparently no evidence to suggest that they were in fact guilty of sabotage. Although the spill was cleaned up, it was done in a shoddy fashion, and no compensation was paid.188

On other occasions, abuses occur when locals seek the assistance of security force members at oil installations, in the absence of any other police presence in the riverine areas. In one case reported to Human Rights Watch, a woman from the village of Egbemo Angalabiri, in the Ekeremor local government area in Rivers State, who runs a small store came back to the village on March 31, 1996, from a purchasing expedition, to find that goods had been stolen from her store. Shesuspected a boy, named Festus Agidi, from the nearby village of Tuomo across the state boundary in Delta State, and went with another woman to the Clough Creek flow station operated by Agip to report the matter to the soldiers stationed there. The soldiers returned with them to the village and arrested the suspect, and beat him severely. He was then taken back to the flow station, together with the two women and the boy’s older brother Solomon Agidi, where he was beaten further and eventually made a confession to the theft. The soldiers then returned to the village with the boy to look for the stolen property where he said he had hidden it. They moored their boat and beat the boy again, who fell in the water in front of the village and died. A post mortem was carried out and confirmed that he had been killed by the beating. The relatives of the deceased, on discovering his death, came to demand compensation from Egbemo Angalabiri. The village of Egbemo tried to argue that the death was not their responsibility, but the responsibility of the soldiers, but without success. It was thirty days before negotiations were completed: according to the community chair in Egbemo, the eventual sum paid to the boy’s relatives was _519,484 (U.S.$5,772) for compensation and to pay their transport and funeral expenses. While representations had been made to Agip, there had been no response.189 Human Rights Watch wrote to Agip concerning this incident on August 16, 1996, and has also received no response, despite several reminders. So far as Human Rights Watch is aware, Agip has made no attempt to investigate this incident, to protest unjustified use of force by the security forces, or to ensure that it will not be repeated.


A major factor in the cycle of protest and repression in the oil areas is the lack of a properly functioning legal system which could promptly and fairly rule in cases involving compensation, pollution, or contracts. Even if such a system existed, there would remain problems related to the inequality of bargaining power between poverty-stricken delta villages and multinational oil companies, corruption and the lack of genuinely representative political structures at local (or national) level. Nevertheless, the gravity of the situation in the delta is greatly exacerbated by the fact that the Nigerian court system is in crisis. The lack of a properly functioning court system also contributes to conflict between communities and companies because, instead of proper investigation of criminal damage or other offenses, followed by charge and trial, the police instead choose to detain and assault youths and other community members, often on an arbitrary basis as collective punishment for the whole community. Those detained, whether innocentof any crime or not, assume that such assaults and detentions are carried out on the instructions of the oil companies, and ill feeling between communities and the oil industry increases once again.

The quality of judicial appointments has steadily deteriorated over the years, and the level of executive interference in court decisions has increased. Judges, magistrates and other court officers, including prosecutors (and police, who often act as prosecutors), are very poorly paid. Court facilities are hopelessly overcrowded, badly equipped, and underfunded. Interpreters may be nonexistent or badly trained. Court libraries are inadequate. There are no computers, photocopiers, or other modern equipment; and judges may even have to supply their own paper and pens to record their judgments in longhand. If litigants need a transcript of a judgment for the purposes of an appeal, they have to pay for the transcript themselves. There are long delays in bringing both criminal and civil cases to court. This financial crisis encourages the acceptance of bribes, in order to achieve the standard of living regarded as acceptable by someone with a legal qualification. Corruption is a pervasive feature of court cases, whether criminal or civil.

The ability of Nigerian citizens to challenge executive wrongdoing is further curtailed by restrictions placed on the courts. The regular court system in Nigeria has been seriously undermined both by “ouster clauses” in military decrees, which exclude courts from considering executive action taken under such decrees, and by the creation of special tribunals, both to hear politically sensitive cases and to bypass the delays of the court system in the trial of high profile crimes. Among the most notorious of these tribunals is that created under the Civil Disturbances (Special Tribunal) Decree No. 2 of 1987, which tried Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other eight Ogoni activists executed on November 10, 1995. Even when a case is before the regular courts, the Nigerian government itself regularly disregards the court orders made against it.

Delays plague the course of litigation against oil companies. A spill at Peremabiri, Bayelsa State, in January 1987 came to the High Court in 1992, and to the Court of Appeal in 1996;190 a case heard in the High Court in 1985 in relation to damages suffered on a continuous basis since 1972 was heard in the Court of Appeal in 1994;191 a case heard in the High Court in 1987, in relation to damages suffered since 1967, was heard in the Court of Appeal in 1990, and in the SupremeCourt in 1994;192 damage caused in 1979 and followed by correspondence leading to a writ of summons in 1984 was first heard in 1987, appealed in 1989, and heard in the Supreme Court in 1994.193

The case of Shell Petroleum Development Company v. Farah,194 the leading authority on compensation in oil cases, arose from an oil spill from Shell’s Bomu II oil well in Tai/Gokana local government area in Ogoni in 1970. SPDC, the appellant in the case, conceded that the blow out occurred in July 1970, but stated that the company had paid a total of £22,000 to the individual claimants and rehabilitated the land by 1975, and hence that no further obligation was due in respect of the damage caused. The plaintiffs in the case asserted that the land had not in fact been rehabilitated and that an extended period of negotiation had followed over Shell’s obligations which terminated in 1988 in refusal by Shell to take any further action. In 1989, the court case was commenced in the High Court. The plaintiffs won their case in the High Court in 1991 and were awarded a total of _4,621,307 (U.S.$51,350). SPDC appealed, but lost their case in the Court of Appeal in 1995, and Shell appealed again to the Supreme Court.

Most egregiously of all, in late June 1997, the High Court in Ughelli awarded four communities in Burutu local government authority—Sokebelou, Obotobo, Ofogbene and Ekeremor-Zion—_30 million (U.S.$333,000) compensation in connection with a claim relating to a spill in 1982, brought to court in 1983, that SPDC asserts was caused by sabotage, and for which it was therefore not liable.195 SPDC announced that it was appealing the decision, which, as the Chikoko Movement pointed out, “might take another 20 years.”196 Furthermore, protests at the appeal were met with at least one arrest and a series of threats. Shortly following the High Court decision, Chief Matthew Saturday Eregbene, head of the Oil Producing Communities Development Organisation and spokesperson for the four communities, announced that SPDC had a deadline of July 8 to pay the sum awarded or cease production pending the appeal, or production would be forcibly closed. On July 7, 1997, Eregbene was detained by members of the SSS in Asaba, capital of Delta State. He was held overnight and released. Later Eregbene andother representatives of the community met with representatives of SPDC and the military administration in Asaba in connection with the case. In addition, as reported in more detail below, contractors working for Shell reported to Human Rights Watch that SPDC had called meetings around the same time at which representatives of Shell had warned those present that the consequences for the communities would be serious if the threat to shut down Shell production were carried out.197

84 Letter from J.R. Udofia, SPDC Divisional Manager (East) to the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, October 29, 1990. The Mobile Police are a paramilitary body with a reputation for brutality and abuse of power.

85 Rivers State Government, Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Umuechem Disturbances.

86 Anyakwee Nsirimovu, The Massacre of an Oil Producing Community: The Umuechem Tragedy Revisited (Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Port Harcourt, November 1994).

87 Ken Saro-Wiwa, Genocide in Nigeria: The Ogoni Tragedy (Port Harcourt: Saros, 1992), p.81.

88 SPDC, Nigeria Brief: The Ogoni Issue (Lagos: SPDC, January 1995).

89 Human Rights Watch/Africa, “The Ogoni Crisis”; see also Ogoni: Trials and Travails (Lagos: Civil Liberties Organisation, 1996).

90 Ibid., see also Michael Birnbaum Q.C., Fundamental Rights Denied: Report of the Trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Others (London: Article 19, June 1995), and Michael Birnbaum Q.C., A Travesty of Law and Justice: An Analysis of the Judgment in the Case of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Others (London: Article 19, December 1995). A fact-finding team appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General, which traveled to Nigeria in April 1996, noted numerous defects in the trial process under international law, while concluding in addition that “the special tribunal ... had no jurisdiction to try Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others.” Annex to U.N. Document A/50/960.

91 Birnbaum, Travesty of Law and Justice, p.2.

92 Their names are: Samson Ntignee, Nyieda Nasikpo, Nwinbari Abere Papah, Samuel Asiga, Paul Deekor, Godwin Gbodor, John Banatu, Adam Kaa, Porgbara Zorzor, Friday Gburuma, Kagbara Basseeh, Blessing Israel, Bariture Lebee, Babina Vizor, Benjamin Kabari, Taaghalobari K. Monsi, Bgbaa Baovi, Baribuma Kumanwee, Michael Dogala, and Kale Beete.

93 The practice of filing “holding charges” before magistrates’ courts, even when those courts do not have jurisdiction to try the case (as in the case of murder) is a common practice of the Nigerian police, despite criticisms from human rights organizations and rulings of the Court of Appeal that no such procedure exists in Nigerian law. The charge is used to obtain an order that the accused be kept in custody pending the preparation of the case before the tribunal in which it will be heard.

94 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 12, 1997.

95 MOSOP Press Statement, July 14, 1997; Reuters, July 19, 1997; and Joseph Ollor, “MOSOP, Rights Group Fault Handling of Ogoni Man’s Death,” Guardian (Lagos), July 22, 1997.

96 Amnesty International, “Urgent Action,” UA 16/98, January 16, 1998; MOSOP press releases January 12, 1998 and list of detainees faxed by MOSOP to Human Rights Watch, February 20, 1998. Whenever Human Rights Watch has been able to check cases of detention, beating, or summary execution alleged by MOSOP, they have proved correct.

97 MOSOP Press Statements, March 20 and 23, 1998.

98 MOSOP Press Statement, August 11, 1998.

99 “Ogoni 20 Free!” MOSOP Press Release, September 8, 1998.

100 “Ogoni Rights Group Leader Returns from Exile,” Lagos Radio Nigeria Network, as reported by FBIS, November 28, 1998; “Executions Remembered in Ogoniland,” BBC News, November 10, 1998; AFP, November 10, 1998; MOSOP PressStatement, November 10, 1998.

101 For example, “The Ogonis: A Case of Genocide in Rivers State,” leaflet distributed by the Council for Ikwerre Nationality, 1994.

102 Charter of Demands of the Ogbia People, 1992.

103 The Chikoko Movement, “Reclaiming our Humanity,” and “Enough is Enough,” leaflets published August 1997.

104 Text of Kaiama Declaration, December 11, 1998.

105 Two prominent union activists also spent several years in prison under the Abacha government following a nationwide strike of oil workers in protest at the cancellation of the 1993 elections. Frank Kokori, secretary-general of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) was arrested on August 20, 1994; Milton Dabibi, former secretary-general of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) was arrested in January 1996. Both were held without charge until June 1998. General Abacha also dissolved the national executives of NUPENG and PENGASSAN and appointed sole administrators for the unions; these decrees have been repealed by General Abubakar.

106 Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

107 Human Rights Watch press releases, June 1 and 2, 1998.

108 Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

109 Statement by Shelley Braithwaite for Human Rights Watch, August 17, 1998.

110 IFEX (International Freedom of Expression Exchange) Alert, April 1, 1998.

111 Media Monitor (Lagos, Independent Journalism Centre), August 3, 1998.

112 James Jukwey, “Nigerian Navy Rescues Hostages on Oil Barge,” Reuters, March 14, 1997; Oil and Gas Journal, March 31, 1997.

113 Reuters, August 19 and 20, and September 1, 1997.

114 Reuters, October 6, 1997.

115 Reuters, October 9, 1997.

116 Reuters, October 21, 1997.

117 Reuters, November 12 and 14, 1997; Radio Kudirat Nigeria, November 13, 1997, as reported by BBC SWB, November 17, 1997.

118 Reuters, December 19 and 24, 1997.

119 Independent (London), December 16, 1997; PR Newswire, December 17, 1997.

120 Reuters, January 21, 1998.

121 Reuters, March 12, 1998.

122 Reuters, March 12, 1998.

123 Reuters, March 12 and 20, 1998.

124 Reuters, May 11, 1998.

125 Energy Compass, vol.9, no.41, August 28, 1998, and vol.9, no.45, November 6, 1998. Production was estimated to have risen from 1,999,000 bpd in July to 2,074,000 bpd at the beginning of November. Only Shell’s Forcados and Bonny Medium crude streams were down.

126 Reuters, June 28 and 30, 1998.

127 Reuters, August 26, 1998.

128 Matthew Tostevin, “Nigeria’s Southern Oil Region on the Boil,” Reuters, July 23, 1998.

129 Reuters, August 21, 1998; Lloyd’s List, August 26, 1998.

130 Lloyd’s List, July 27 and 31, 1998; Reuters July 23 and 24, 1998; Reuters, August 17, 21 and 24, 1998.

131 Energy Compass, vol.9, no.41, October 9, 1998.

132 Reuters, November 11, 1998.

133 AFP, October 11, 1998; Hilary Andersson, “Nigerians turn to magic in fight against oil firms,”Independent (London), November 7, 1998..

134 AFP, October 14, 1998.

135 AFP, November 12 to 18, 1998.

136 Reuters, December 9, 1998; AP, December 10, 1998.

137 Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

138 Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

139 Environmental Rights Action, “Chevron’s Commando Raid,” ERA’s Environmental Testimonies No. 5, July 10, 1998.

140 Human Rights Watch interview, Tuomo, July 15, 1997.

141 Shell stated to Human Rights Watch that the divisional police officer, who witnessed the protest, reported it to his superiors at the state headquarters, who decided to send the Mobile Police, without consulting SPDC. Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

142 Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998. For more on the meeting with the governor, see below.

143 Human Rights Watch interviews, including with some of those detained, July 19, 1997.

144 Environmental Rights Action, sHell in Iko; Human Rights Watch interview with Bruce Powell, June 20, 1998.

145 A major confrontation took place in 1987 between the community and the Mobile Police, in which a large number of houses were burnt down. Many of these houses are still not rebuilt, while some of those who lived in them have moved away to a nearby community and not returned. See, Environmental Rights Action, sHell in Iko.

146 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 9, 1997.

147 Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

148 Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

149 Human Rights Watch interviews, Elele, July 11, 1997.

150 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 21, 1997; Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

151 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

152 Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

153 Those arrested included Chief COB Aliba, Kennet Aliba, Matt Ajari, Bernard Ojimadu, Maxwell Okunwa, Edwin Aleto, Edwin Egbu, Gozie Nwaribe, Emmanuel Ngbenwa, Jackson Otusu, Chigozie Okwufa, Chukwuemeke Ozinapa, Thankgod Amanya, and Okwudini Osae. Human Rights Watch interviews, July 4, 1997.

154 Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

155 Letter from the same interviewee, sent from Togo, October 24, 1997.

156 There was a major demonstration of several thousand people in the village in 1992, as a result of which more than thirty people were detained for up to several months, and a judicial commission of inquiry appointed.

157 Those detained were Chinedu Akpelu, Robinson Akpelu, Goodwill Amadi, Movie Amuku, Eric Anokuru, Sylvanus Assor, Amos Chuwume, Stephen Ihuanne, Eziekiel Isaiah, Simeon Ogoda, Sunday Ogoda, and Maxwell Ordu. Human Rights Watch interviews, July 11, 1997.

158 Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

159 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 15, 1997.

160 Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

161 Shell provided Human Rights Watch with a copy of a memorandum on the letterhead of Alcon Nigeria Ltd, dated February 28, 1997, which provided for payment of “token homage” (a cash sum of _20,000 (U.S.$222), together with a number of bottles of beer, gin, soft drinks and biscuits); contribution of _225,000 (U.S.$2,500) towards purchase of “some electrical items”; employment of local youths on the project and award of minor contracts to community members; and an end-of-contract bonus to be paid to each community worker. Attachment to Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

162 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

163 The letter reads, in part, “We hereby report that some members of the above named committee [the “12-man” liaison committee for the project] in Edagberi-Joinkarama yesterday 15.06.97 seized some of our trucks and equipment. The committee members are demanding from us one hundred and fifty bags of cement and sixteen drums of diesel. ... We want to state that we have fulfilled all our obligations to the community. Members of the 12-man committee are principal signatories to all agreements and these two items were not part of any agreement.” The letter went on to state that youths had refused Alcon access to the site and “extorted” fifty-five bags of cement and _4,000 (U.S.$44) before allowing work to continue, and that one youth had demanded that Alcon refund him _8,000 (U.S.$89) incurred to secure his release from an earlier arrest. “Given these circumstances and other unknown plans by the Adibawa people, we appeal for your quick intervention to save us from further harassment, violent threats and attack.” Attachment to Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

164 Those arrested were Onis Adolphus, Eshimvie Dimkpa, Chief Kalix Echi, Enoch Eli, Atu Famous, Chief Humphrey Jacob, Joshua Marcy, Chief Akporokpo Orugbani, Owievie Osuolo, and Nwase Wayas. Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

165 Letter from Chevron Nigeria Ltd to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998; Human Rights Watch interviews, Warri, July 15, 1997.

166 Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

167 Human Rights Watch interviews, Warri, July 15, 1997.

168 Alphonsus Agborh, “How Adeusi charmed a blood-thirsty Eket mob,” Punch (Lagos), January 28, 1998; Remi Oyo, “Communities Want Compensation for Oil Spill,” IPS, February 5, 1998; Reuters, February 2, 1998.

169 Jude Okwe, “Oil Spillage Victims yet to be Compensated,” Post Express Wired, August 7, 1998.

170 Environmental Rights Action, “Chevron’s Commando Raid.”

171 Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

172 “Minutes of a Meeting held with the Ilaje Concessional Group at Obe-Sedara Comunity, held on May 14, 1998.” Human Rights Watch asked Chevron to comment on these observations, but received no response.

173 Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

174 “Chevron, Oil Communities, Fail to Agree on Compensation,” Punch (Lagos), July 16, 1998.

175 Environmental Rights Action, “Chevron’s Commando Raid.”

176 Chevron Nigeria Limited letter to Human Rights Watch, December 11, 1998.

177 Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

178 “Group Prepares to Sue Chevron Over Nigeria Deaths,” Reuters, October 12, 1998.

179 Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill, “Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship,” transcript of broadcast on Democracy Now program, Pacifica Radio, October 1, 1998.

180 Chevron Nigeria Limited letter to Human Rights Watch, December 11, 1998.

181 Among the demands listed by the women in a “Charter of Demands” were the removal of Mr. Joseph Wehaibe and Mrs B.D. Adele from the staff of Ponticelli, contractors to Elf; electrification of the Egi community and provision of pipe-borne water; removal of Mr. Bakare, the Elf security manager in Port Harcourt; and theimmediate implementation of a 1993 agreement between Elf and the Egi people (described in Human Rights Watch’s 1995 report “The Ogoni Crisis”), which, according to the community, had not been fulfilled. Statements from ND-HERO, October 14 and November 24, 1998; telephone interviews with Azibaola Robert, ND-HERO.

182 Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, November 23, 1998.

183 Kaiama Declaration, December 11, 1998.

184 Environmental Rights Action, “Unprecedented State of Emergency Declared in Niger Delta,” Press Statement, December 31, 1998; Reuters, December 31, 1998; Joseph Ollor Obari, “Govt deploys warships, troops in Bayelsa,” Guardian (Lagos), January 4, 1999; Reuters, January 2, 1999..

185 The 1999 Federal Budget address by General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

186 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, Azibaola Robert, ND-HERO, January 3 and 4, 1999.

187 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

188 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 4, 1997.

189 Human Rights Watch interviews, June 21, 1996.

190 SPDC v. HRH Chief GBA Tiebo VII and four others [1996] 4 NWLR (Part 445), p.657.

191 SPDC v. Chief George Uzoaru and three others [1994] 9 NWLR (part 366), p.51.

192 Elf Nigeria Ltd v. Opere Sillo and Daniel Etsemi [1994] 6 NWLR (Part 350), p.258.

193 John Eboigbe v. NNPC [1994] 5 NWLR (Part 347), p.649.

194 [1995] 3 NWLR (Part 382) p.148.

195 Judgment in Chief Joel Anare and Others v. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, Suit No. HCB/35/89, Delta State High Court, Ughelli Division, May 27, 1997.

196 “Enough is Enough,” August 1997.

197 Human Rights Watch interviews, July 1997. See further below, in the section on the role and responsibilities of the oil companies.


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