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Nigeria: Current situation in the Niger Delta; whether authorities are looking for, arresting and detaining activist Ijaw youths (2002)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 5 June 2002
Citation / Document Symbol NGA39272.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Nigeria: Current situation in the Niger Delta; whether authorities are looking for, arresting and detaining activist Ijaw youths (2002), 5 June 2002, NGA39272.E, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

An Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) article reported that in response to threats by "militants" of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) in the Niger Delta region, some 1000 anti-riot police officers were deployed in Eket around the ExxonMobil oil export terminal (21 May 2002). The article stated that threats of attacks on oil installations have increased since the Nigerian federal government was given control of offshore oil resources in April 2002 (ibid.). The chief of the navy reportedly said that the navy was "charged to remove whatever obstacle that [would] disrupt peace in the oilfields" (ibid.) and warned the IYC that it was "prepared to counter any attack by the group to disrupt the operations of oil companies in the Niger Delta" (Vanguard 21 May 2002a).

Youths of the Ijaw ethnic group, who claim that they have been denied employment opportunities with oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region (ibid. 14 Feb. 2002), held a "peaceful demonstration" on 3 May 2002 at the Agip oil company to protest the "unfavourable employment policies of the company" (IRIN 9 May 2002). After being undeterred by armed police firing into the air, the demonstrators were allowed to speak with managers of the company, as they had done with officials of Royal/Dutch Shell and Julius Berger the previous week (ibid.).

According to an Associated Press report, some 40 Ijaw youths from Amatu in Bayelsa state took 10 employees hostage aboard a Shell drilling rig off the southern coast of Nigeria (4 Apr. 2002). The youths demanded "employment, oil contracts and other help from Shell" in return for the safe release of the workers (ibid.). While no reports of the outcome of this event could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate, Vanguard reported, in response to the kidnapping, that the government "seriously frowns at the situation where youths take the law into their hands" and would "seriously deal with any person who engages in such criminal act[s]" (21 May 2002b).

In January 2002, the community of Ogulagha in Delta state appealed to the state government to enforce a law prohibiting youth associations from "molesting" oil companies in the state (ibid. 4 Jan. 2002). The Ijaw National Youth Movement had reportedly threatened to "unleash terror" on an oil company in the area (ibid.).

No information on whether authorities look for, arrest and detain activist Ijaw youths in the Niger Delta region could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press (AP). 4 April 2002. "Villagers Kidnap American, Nine Others in Nigeria's Oil-Rich Delta." (Boston Herald) [Accessed 5 June 2002]

Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN). 21 May 2002. "Nigeria: Security Reinforced in Oil Region." [Accessed 5 June 2002]

_____. 9 May 2002. "Nigeria: Focus on Dispute Over Offshore Oil Resources." [Accessed 5 June 2002]

Vanguard [Apapa]. 21 May 2002a. John Ighodaro. "Navy Ready to Tackle Ijaw Youths, Says Afolayan." [Accessed 5 June 2002]

_____. 21 May 2002b. Samuel Oyadongha. "Oil Communities Urged Anew to Shun Violence." (allAfrica) [Accessed 5 June 2002]

_____. 14 February 2002. "Ijaw Youths Hold Job Rally." (Africa News 14 Mar. 2002/NEXIS)

_____. 4 January 2002. Neville Amorighoye. "Community Seeks Enforcement of Law Banning Organisation." [Accessed 5 June 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential 2002

Africa Research Bulletin 2002

IND Country Assessments 2002

IRB Databases



Internet sites including:

Africa Online

African Perspective

Amnesty International

BBC News

Council of Ijaw Associations Abroad (CIAA)


The Guardian

Human Rights Watch

Ijaw National Congress

Ijaw Resource Center

Kilima Nigeria News

New Nigerian

Nigeria Daily

This Day

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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