The Price of Oil: Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria's Oil Producing Communities


This report was written by Bronwen Manby, researcher in the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, based on research in the Niger Delta in July 1997, subsequent correspondence with the major oil companies operating in the region, and information provided by Nigerian human rights and environmental activists. The report was edited by Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa Division; Mike McClintock, deputy program director; and Wilder Tayler, general counsel. Elizabeth Thapliyal, Associate in the Africa Division, prepared the report for production.

Human Rights Watch would like to thank its NGO partners who contributed to the report by assisting our research and providing additional information. In particular, we wish to thank the committed and courageous activists of Environmental Rights Action, without whom the report could not have been written. We would also like to thank all those who agreed to meet with us and be interviewed for the report, especially the many residents of oil producing communities of the Niger Delta.

I.          SUMMARY

This report is an exploration of human rights violations related to oil exploration and production in the Niger Delta, and of the role and responsibilities of the major multinational oil companies in respect of those violations. The Niger Delta has for some years been the site of major confrontations between the people who live there and the Nigerian government security forces, resulting in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. These violations of civil and political rights have been committed principally in response to protests about the activities of the multinational companies that produce Nigeria's oil. Although the June 1998 death of former head of state Gen. Sani Abacha and his succession by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar has brought a significant relaxation in the unprecedented repression General Abacha inflicted on the Nigerian people, and General Abubakar appears committed to ensuring the installation of an elected civilian government in May 1999, human rights abuses in the oil producing communities continue and the basic situation in the delta remains unchanged. As this report went to press, the fatal shooting by security forces of tens of youths demonstrating for the oil companies to withdraw from Nigeria was reported, and the deployment of large numbers of soldiers and navy to the delta to suppress such protests.

Since the death of Abacha, there has been a surge in incidents in which protesters have occupied flow stations and closed production or taken oil workers hostage. In the context of increasing threats to the safety of their workers and of damage to their property, oil companies legitimately require security for their personnel and property; but equally there is an even greater need for companies to ensure that such protection does not result in further human rights abuses. The oil companies share a responsibility to oppose human rights violations by government forces in the areas in which they operate, in addition to preventing abuses by their own employees or contractors. Companies have a duty to avoid both complicity in and advantage from human rights abuses, and a company that fails to speak out when authorities responding to corporate requests for security protection commit human rights abuses will be complicit in those abuses.

Human Rights Watch traveled to the Niger Delta in 1997 to investigate human rights violations in connection with the suppression of protest at oil company activities. We found repeated incidents in which people were brutalized for attempting to raise grievances with the companies; in some cases security forces threatened, beat, and jailed members of community delegations even before they presented their cases. Such abuses often occurred on or adjacent to company property, or in the immediate aftermath of meetings between company officials and individual claimants or community representatives. Many local people seemed to be the object of repression simply for putting forth an interpretation of a compensation agreement, or for seeking effective compensation for land ruined or livelihood lost.

We subsequently corresponded with the five multinationals with the largest share of Nigerian production, asking them to comment on our findings about particular incidents at their facilities, as well as their approach to human rights and community relations in general and their relationships with the Nigerian authorities in respect of security and other issues. This correspondence has continued during 1998. The most ample responses were received from Shell, a Dutch-British company, which has faced the most high profile international focus on its responsibilities in Nigeria. Responses on several cases were also received from Chevron and general information was provided by Mobil: both companies have faced pressure in the U.S., where they are based, concerning corporate responsibility in Nigeria. Elf, headquartered in France, answered most of our questions, though it avoided some, without giving much detail or taking the opportunity to provide background information on its operations; while Agip, an Italian state-owned company, provided an uninformative two page general response to our inquiries and failed to answer many questions. The difficulty that Human Rights Watch, a well known international organization with access to the press worldwide, has had in getting several of the oil companies to pay attention to its concerns appears to be representative of their response to local communities.

In many cases, even where they did respond in connection with particular incidents, companies denied knowledge of government attacks on individuals protesting company action or inaction, or sought to justify security force measures as appropriate responses to threats to company personnel or property. Most of the companies cited in the report failed publicly to criticize security force abuses related to their operations. There were also cases in which witnesses reported that company staff directly threatened, or were present when security force officers threatened communities with retaliation if there were disruption to oil production.

The Role and Responsibilities of the International Oil Companies

The multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria face a difficult political and economic environment, both nationally and at the level of the oil producing communities where their facilities are located. Successive governments have misspent the oil wealth which the oil companies have helped to unlock, salting it away in foreign bank accounts rather than investing in education, health, and other social investment, and mismanaging the national economy to the point of collapse. At the same time, the government has in the past failed to fund its share of the joint ventures operated by the multinationals, and has played the different oil companies against each other so that it has not been easy-even for Shell, the industry giant-to insist that the government contribute towards the investment needed to keep the industry functioning. At the community level, the companies are faced with increasing protests directed at oil company activities and the lack of development in the delta; these have included incidents of hostage-taking, closures of flow stations, sabotage, and intimidation of staff. While the political environment has improved for the oil majors with the death of General Abacha and the succession to the presidency of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, it is unclear what the position will be with the scheduled inauguration of a civilian government in June 1999, and unlikely that relations between the multinationals and the Nigerian government, military or civilian, will ever be entirely smooth.

Acknowledging the difficult context of oil operations in Nigeria does not, however, absolve the oil companies from a share of responsibility for the human rights abuses taking place in the Niger Delta: whether by action or omission they play a role.

In countries characterized by severe human rights violations, like Nigeria, corporations often justify their presence by arguing that their operations will enhance respect for rights, but then adopt no substantive measures to achieve that end. Corporations doing business in these states take on a special obligation to implement proactive steps to promote respect for rights and to ensure that they do not become complicit in violations. The dominant position of the oil companies in Nigeria brings with it a special responsibility in this regard to monitor and promote respect for human rights. Given the overwhelming role of oil in the Nigerian national economy, the policies and practices of the oil companies are important factors in the decision making of the Nigerian government. Because the oil companies are operating joint ventures with the government they have constant opportunities to influence government policy, including with respect to the provision of security for the oil facilities and other issues in the oil producing regions. All the oil companies operating in Nigeria share this responsibility to promote respect for human rights.

In addition to these general responsibilities, the oil companies operating in Nigeria have specific responsibilities in respect of the human rights violations that take place in connection with their operations. These responsibilities must be seen against the context of oil production in Nigeria and the fact that the security provided to keep the oil flowing benefits both the Nigerian government and the oil companies, since disputes which threaten production affect the revenue of both.

Many of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch which have led to security force abuses concern claims that oil companies have not abided by environmental standards or provided compensation in accordance with the law for damage resulting from oil exploration and production. Other cases concern claims that the oil multinationals have not provided compensation which community members believe to be due to the traditional landholders, although the realities of the Nigerian legal system make it difficult to establish or enforce such an obligation. Often, the Nigerian government effectively entrusts the oil companies themselves to provide the facts on such matters as land claims and valuation, environmental impact assessments, agreed terms of compensation for property and labor, assessment of sabotage, and damage claims. Most negotiations for compensation are bilateral, between the community affected and the oil company concerned, although government structures may play a nominal monitoring role. The process of valuation, negotiation, and payment is therefore in practice controlled almost entirely by the company. The affected communities are in an unequal bargaining position, largely obliged to accept whatever compensation is offered by the companies in such situations. Although there are independent lawyers and environmental groups attempting to monitor oil company compliance with the law and assist the oil communities in pressing their claims, their activities have in the past been seriously hindered by security force harassment, office raids, detentions, and other repressive measures.

Oil companies are legitimately concerned to prevent damage to their facilities and to the environment and to protect their personnel. Security arrangements between the oil companies and the Nigerian government are inevitable, as are internal oil company provisions for security responses in the event of incidents of hostage taking, sabotage, or intimidation. At the same time, the companies emphasize their commitment to avoid violent confrontations between community members and security forces, while underlining a legal obligation to inform the Nigerian authorities when there is a threat to oil production.

However, Human Rights Watch is concerned at the level of secrecy that surrounds the arrangements relating to security for oil installations: not one of the oil companies with which we corresponded responded to our requests to be given access to the parts of the Memorandum of Understanding or Joint Operations Agreement with the Nigerian government governing security, nor to internal guidelines relating to protection of their facilities. Given the abuses that have been committed by the Nigerian security forces in protecting oil installations, most notoriously in Ogoni, it is all the more important that there be transparency in these arrangements and clear commitments from the oil companies to monitor security force performance related to their operations, take steps to prevent abuses, and publicly protest violations that do occur. Yet none of the oil companies publish regular, comprehensive reports of allegations of environmental damage, sabotage, claims for compensation, protest actions, or police or military action carried out on or near their facilities. Often, based on Human Rights Watch's correspondence, the companies claim to be unaware that arrests, detentions and beatings have taken place in the vicinity of their facilities, despite assertions that they are concerned to maintain good relations with the communities where they operate.

Human Rights Watch believes that the oil companies have responsibilities to monitor security force activity in the oil producing region in detail and to take all possible steps to ensure that human rights violations are not committed. These responsibilities are reinforced when the company has itself called for security force intervention, especially by the military or by notoriously abusive forces such as the Mobile Police, or if the company has made payments to the security forces in return for protection. In particular, Human Rights Watch recommends that:

•           Companiesshould include in written agreements with the Nigerian government relating tothe regulation of the oil industry, especially any agreements relatingspecifically to security, provisions requiring state security forces operatingin the area of company operations to conform to the human rights obligationsthe government has assumed under the International Covenant on Civil andPolitical Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and otherinternational human rights and humanitarian norms.

•Companiesshould make public the provisions of their security agreements with stateentities and private organizations.

•Companiesshould insist on screening security force members assigned for theirprotection, to ensure that no member of the military or police crediblyimplicated in past human rights abuses is engaged in protecting oil facilities.Companies should similarly screen security staff in their direct employment.

•Companiesshould investigate abuses that do occur, and make public and private proteststo the authorities where excessive force is used, or where arbitrary detentionsor other abuses take place. Companies should publish details of such incidentsin their annual reports both in Nigeria and in the country of their headoffice.

•Companiesshould publicly and privately call on the Nigerian authorities to institutedisciplinary or criminal proceedings, as appropriate, against those responsiblefor abuses and to compensate the victims. Companies should monitor the statusof such investigations and press for resolution of the cases, publiclycondemning undue delay.

•Companiesshould adopt internal guidelines surrounding the provision of security fortheir facilities, emphasizing the need to ensure respect for human rights, andshould take disciplinary action against any employee that does not follow suchguidelines.

The following sections summarise the background to humanrights abuses in the delta, and give examples of particular incidents in whichcompanies have failed to take these steps.

The Oil Industry and the Oil Producing Communities

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, and the fifthlargest in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Thediscovery of oil has transformed Nigeria's political economy, and oil has forthe past two decades provided approximately 90 percent of foreign exchangeearnings, and 80 percent of federal revenue. Nigeria also has huge reserves ofnatural gas, yet to be fully exploited. Yet, instead of turning Nigeria intoone of the most prosperous states on the African continent, these naturalresources have enriched a small minority while the vast majority have becomeincreasingly impoverished: with a per capita gross national product of onlyU.S.$260 a year, Nigeria is one of the poorest countries in the world. At thesame time, the struggle among the elite to gain access to the profits of theoil boom has been a factor in the rule of successive military governments:since independence in 1960, Nigeria has enjoyed only ten years of civilianrule, though the current military regime has committed itself to leave officein May 1999. While minority ethnic groups in Nigeria's multi-ethnic federationhave successfully demanded that new states and local government units be carvedout to fulfil their hopes of receiving some benefit from the oil money and tocompensate for the damage done by oil production, the Nigerian federation hasin practice, paradoxically, become ever more centralized and power and moneyhas been concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Politics hasbecome an exercise in organized corruption; a corruption perhaps mostspectacularly demonstrated around the oil industry itself, where largecommissions and percentage cuts of contracts have enabled individual soldiersand politicians to amass huge fortunes.

The first discovery of commercial quantities of oil inNigeria was in 1956; today, the country produces approximately two millionbarrels per day (bpd) of crude oil. Estimates of Nigeria's oil reserves varyfrom sixteen to twenty-two billion barrels, mostly found in small fields in thecoastal areas of the Niger Delta. According to the Nigerian constitution, allminerals, oil, and gas belong to the Nigerian federal government, whichnegotiates the terms of oil production with international oil companies. Mostexploration and production activities in Nigeria are carried out by Europeanand U.S. oil companies operating joint ventures in which the Nigerian NationalPetroleum Corporation (NNPC), the state oil company, owns 55 or 60 percent;more recent contracts relating to offshore fields have been structured ratheras "production sharing contracts" in which the government is not a formalpartner. Shell operates a joint venture that produces close to one half ofNigeria's crude production; Mobil, Chevron, Elf, Agip, and Texaco operate otherjoint ventures, and a range of international and national oil companies operatesmaller concessions.

Oil production has had damaging effects on the environmentof the oil producing region, though the extent of the damage is subject todispute. The Niger Delta is one of the world's largest wetlands, and thelargest in Africa: it encompasses over 20,000 square kilometers, of whichperhaps 6,000 square kilometers is mangrove forest, and has the highbiodiversity typical of extensive swamp and forest areas, with many uniquespecies of plants and animals. Despite decades of oil production, there issurprisingly little good quality independent scientific data on the overall or long-termeffects of hydrocarbon pollution on the Delta, yet oil-led development hasclearly seriously damaged the environment and the livelihood of many of thoseliving in the oil producing communities. The oil companies operating in Nigeriamaintain that their activities are conducted to the highest environmentalstandards; but Nigerian environmental laws, in most respects comparable totheir international equivalents, are poorly enforced.

Occasional large oil spills kill fish and agriculturalcrops, and pollute water, with serious effects for the communities and familiesaffected, especially on dry land or in freshwater swamp zones where spills arecontained in a small area. The long-term effect of these major pollutionincidents, regular small spills, and effluent deliberately discharged to theenvironment is largely unevaluated. Poorly designed causeways and canals usedby the oil industry affect the hydrology of the seasonally flooded freshwaterswamp and the brackish water of the mangrove forest, again killing off crops,destroying fishing grounds, and damaging drinking water supplies. Compensationfor such damage is inadequate, and-in the absence of a properly functioningcourt system-there is no effective recourse to an independentarbiter to determinethe value of the damaged property. The oil companies state that many spills arecaused by sabotage, and, in accordance with Nigerian law, they pay nocompensation in such cases; but the determination that sabotage has occurred islargely left in their own hands, increasing the chances of injustice. At thesame time, in an area of Nigeria where there is great pressure on cultivableand habitable land, land is expropriated for oil production under laws whichallow no effective due process protections for landholders and only inadequatecompensation for the loss of livelihood of those affected. Although the amountof land used for oil production is small, by comparison with the total area ofthe Niger Delta, the effect on individual landholders can be devastating. TheNiger Delta clearly faces many environmental problems that are not the directresponsibility of the oil industry, but these distinctions are irrelevant tothose who have their land confiscated or polluted, without receivingcompensation to the value of the benefit lost.

While the people of the Niger Delta have faced the adverseeffects of oil extraction, they have in general also failed to gain from theoil wealth. The people living in the oil producing communities largely belongto ethnic groups other than the three major groups in Nigeria (Hausa-Fulani,Yoruba, and Igbo), and speak a diverse range of languages and dialects; thelargest of these groups are the Ijaw, who collectively form Nigeria's fourthlargest ethnic group. Since the creation of the Nigerian state by the British,the peoples of the delta have complained of marginalization by the regional andfederal governments who have ruled their affairs. Despite the vast wealthproduced from the oil found under the delta, the region remains poorer than thenational average; and though in the north of Nigeria poverty is more extreme,the divisions between rich and poor are more obvious in the areas where gasflares light up the night sky.

Nevertheless, oil production itself and oil-based industrialexpansion have transformed the local economy, and some in the oil producingcommunities have benefitted greatly from oil production. Those with full timeemployment in the oil industry are paid high wages for skilled work, but theyare a well-paid minority surrounded by a mass of un- or underemployed; most donot come from the oil producing communities in any event. Contractors to theoil industry, often traditional leaders or those with close links to themilitary administrations of the oil producing states, also potentially makelarge amounts of money, often increased by the widescale corruption surroundingthe award of contracts for construction and other oil industry projects-fromwhich those in the oil companies in charge of the choice of contractor alsobenefit. Development spending by the oil companies has also brought schools,clinics, and other infrastructure to remote parts of the country that mightotherwise be far more marginalized by the Nigerian government; but many ofthese projects are inappropriate for the needs of the communities where theyare sited, and others are incomplete or shoddily carried out. Although aminority of politicians, traditional leaders and contractors have become richon the spoils of oil, and hence support the oil industry's activities, thegreat majority of people from the minority ethnic groups of the oil producingareas have remained impoverished; at the same time, the potential benefits oflinks to the oil industry have exacerbated conflicts within and among the oilproducing communities.

Protest and Repression in the Oil Producing Communities

Anger at the inequities attributed to the oil economy hasled increasing numbers of people from the communities in the oil regions toprotest the exploitation of what they see as "their" oil-though theconstitution provides that all oil is owned by the federal government-withoutbenefit to them or compensation for the damage done to their land andlivelihoods. These protests, mostly disorganized and localized, hit the internationalnews headlines during the early 1990s, when the Movement for the Survival ofthe Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by well-known author Ken Saro-Wiwa, successfullymobilized tens of thousands of Ogonis, an ethnic group of just half a millionpeople occupying a small part of the oil producing region, to protest at thepolicies of the federal government in relation to the oil wealth, and at theactivities of Shell, the oil company that produces almost half of Nigeria'soil. In 1993, Shell was forced to close its production in Ogoni following massprotests at its facilities, citing intimidation of its staff, and theflowstations there remain closed until today, though active pipelines stillcross the region. MOSOP's protests provoked a violent and repressive responsefrom the federal government, for which any threat to oil production is a threatto the entire existing political system. Thousands of Ogonis were detained orbeaten by the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, a military bodyspecifically created to suppress the protests organized by MOSOP, and hundredswere summarily executed over a period of several years. In 1994, Ken Saro-Wiwaand several others were arrested in connection with the murder of fourtraditional leaders in Ogoni. On November 10, 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight otherMOSOP activists were hanged by the military government for those murders, aftera trial before a tribunal which blatantly violated international standards ofdue process and produced no credible evidence that he or the others wereinvolved in the killings for which they were convicted.

Since 1995, no organization has emerged with the cohesionand dynamism of MOSOP, yet protests aimed at oil production take place on aregular basis, and the memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa is respected across the delta.The great majority of these protests are not organized by well-known leadershipfigures or by recognized political groupings, but by local community members.Many of these protests are never reported, even in the Nigerian national press:only when there is a threat to oil production is reporting guaranteed.Community members demand compensation for use of their land or for oil spillsor other environmental damage, employment in oil industry projects, ordevelopment projects for their villages. Many protests are aimed at thegovernment as well as the oil companies and relate to claims for a greater partof the revenue derived from oil to be spent in the oil producing region.Sometimes these demands are made by individuals or families in respect of theirown land, sometimes youths who feel excluded from the political system and thebenefits of oil wealth organize together and successfully halt production atflow stations in their areas, or prevent construction work going ahead, untilthe international oil companies have satisfied their demands, or part of them.Sometimes these demands are made by individuals or families in respect of theirown land. In other cases, youths who feel excluded from the political systemand the benefits of oil wealth join together and successfully halt productionat flow stations in their areas, or prevent construction work going ahead,until the international oil companies have satisfied their demands, or part ofthem. On some occasions there has been damage to property, theft, orintimidation of oil company or contractor staff. Sabotage of oil pipelines doesoccur, though its extent is disputed between the companies and the communities.Incidents of hostage-taking have recently increased, with some of these cases involvingattempts to extort money from the oil companies.

In the face of the threat to oil production caused by someof these protests, the Nigerian government has created a number of special taskforces handling security in the oil producing areas, of which the mostnotorious and brutal is the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, createdin response to the Ogoni crisis. Like many other states, those in the deltahave also created anti-crime task forces: Operation Flush in Rivers State andOperation Salvage in Bayelsa state have been active in the oil regions. Theparamilitary Mobile Police, deployed throughout Nigeria, are also active in thedelta; and on occasion, the navy is used to maintain order in the riverineareas. From their side, the oil companies operating in Nigeria hire"supernumerary police," recruited and trained by the Nigerian police force, butpaid for by the oil companies. They are supposed to operate only within theperimeter fence of oil facilities. Some of these police are armed, though Shellstates that most working on its behalf are not; some operate in plain clothes.In addition, the oil companies state that they hire private firms for routinesecurity provision at entrance barriers and other duties at their premises; andlocal "guards" hired from among landholders across whose land pipelines run orwhere other facilities are built.

Nigeria's new head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, hasgreatly reduced the repression enforced by his predecessor, Gen. Sani Abacha,who died in June 1998, releasing many political prisoners and relaxingrestrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association throughoutNigeria. The government has withdrawn the Internal Security Task Force fromOgoni. Many Ogoni exiles have been able to return, and MOSOP has been able tohold rallies once again. Nevertheless, the response of the security forces tothreats to oil production continues to be heavy handed, and in the oil regionshuman and environmental rights activists report little change. On December 30,1998, soldiers shot dead at least seven youths protesting in Yenagoa, thecapital of Bayelsa State; the following morning, eight others were reportedkilled, and over the following days a crackdown continued that was stillongoing as this report went to press.

In virtually every community, there have been occasions onwhich the paramilitary Mobile Police, the regular police, or the army, havebeaten, detained, or even killed those involved in protests, peaceful orotherwise, or individuals who have called for compensation for oil damage,whether youths, women, children, or traditional leaders. In some cases, membersof the community are beaten or detained indiscriminately, irrespective of theirrole in any protest. Under the government of General Abacha, activists fromhuman and environmental organizations, especially from political movementsattempting to organize resistance to oil company abuses, faced regularharassment from the authorities. While this situation has eased in recentmonths, the decrees are still in force that allow detention without trial andestablish special tribunals to try cases of "civil disturbances" or sabotagewithout due process protections.

Human Rights Watch investigated a number of cases of protestagainst oil company activity that have taken place since the 1995 trial andexecution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight codefendants, during a one-month visitto the Niger Delta during July 1997 and in subsequent research. The cases weinvestigated can be grouped under two broad thematic headings. On the one hand,there are those incidents where community members have claimed that operationsof oil companies have damaged the material interests of the peoples of theareas in which they operate and have not compensated fully for that damage. Theincidents involve disputes over legal obligations to provide compensation forclaims of damage, for encroachment on community land or waters, or for accessrights, though claims are often couched in terms of community rights to a "fairshare" of the oil wealth derived from their land. Accordingly, communitymembers have made demands for compensation for oil company activities, whetherin the form of cash payments following spillages or land expropriation,development projects in communities close to oil installations, or employmentof local community members as casual laborers when work is being carried out inthe vicinity. On the other, there are cases of harassment and apparentlyuntargeted assaults upon community members that are a general consequence ofthe deployment of security personnel to provide protection for oil operations.

In the worst cases, people have been killed by theparamilitary Mobile Police or other security responding to threats to oilproduction. In May 1998, two youths were killed on Chevron's Parabe Platform,off Ondo State, by members of the security forces transported to the platformby Chevron to remove two hundred protesters who had closed down production. Theprotesters had demanded compensation for environmental damage caused by canalscut for Chevron which opened local waterways to the sea. Frequently, protestersare beaten and arbitrarily detained, for periods ranging from hours to weeks ormonths; sometimes individuals are detained who simply go to oil company orcontractors' premises asking for compensation for works being carried out. Inone case in 1997, landholders interviewed by Human Rights Watch had beendetained overnight and released without charge following a spill on their landwhich Elf alleged had been caused by sabotage. They had apparently been held onsuspicion that they had caused the sabotage despite the lack of evidence tothis effect and the uncompensated damage caused to their crops. Following amajor Mobil oil spill in January 1998, up to three hundred people who demandedcompensation were reportedly detained; in July, further protests over damagedone by the spill and delays in compensation payments led to disturbances inwhich eleven people were reportedly shot dead by police. As this report went topress, the fatal shooting of tens of Ijaw youths calling for the oil companiesto withdraw from Nigeria was reported, together with the deployment ofthousands of troops to the Niger Delta region.

The Role of Shell in the Ogoni Crisis

The role of Shell in Nigeria has received by far the mostattention internationally, for three reasons: first, because it is the biggestoil producer in Nigeria with the longest history, dominating the industry foras long as oil has been produced and in the early days enjoying a monopoly anda privileged relationship with government; secondly, because Shell's facilitiesare largely onshore, in or near inhabited areas and thus exposed to communityprotests; and thirdly, because it formed the main target of the campaign byMOSOP, which accused the company of complicity in what it alleged was thegenocide of the Ogoni people.

During the height of the Ogoni crisis, allegations of Shellcollaboration with the military were regularly made, even after the companyceased production from its flow stations in Ogoni in January 1993. A documentalleged to be a leaked government memorandum from 1994 implicated Shell inplanned "wasting operations" by the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force,stating that the oil companies should pay the costs of the operations. The headof the Task Force several times publicly claimed to be acting so that Shell'soil production could resume. Former Ogoni members of the Shell police haveclaimed that they were involved in deliberately creating conflict betweendifferent groups of people, and in intimidating and harassing protesters duringthe height of the MOSOP protests in 1993 and 1994; Ogoni detainees have alsoalleged that they were detained and beaten by Shell police during the sameperiod. Nigerian environmental and human rights activists in the delta alsoallege that Shell (and other companies) continue to make payments of fieldallowances to soldiers deployed to its facilities.

Shell has denied all such allegations, and distanced itselffrom statements by government or security officials calling for repressiveresponses to protests, while stating that the company had repeatedly expressedits concerns "over the violence and heavy handedness both sides on the Ogoniissue have displayed from time to time." Shell also denied any collusion withthe authorities. However, Shell has since admitted having made direct paymentsto the Nigerian security forces, on at least one occasion in 1993, underduress. Under great public pressure, both inside and outside Nigeria, tointervene on behalf of the accused during the trial and following theconviction of the "Ogoni Nine," Shell wrote to Gen. Abacha pleading forcommutation of the death sentences against Ken Saro-Wiwa and his co-accused onhumanitarian grounds, but did not make any comment on the unfairness of theirtrial.

Shell states that its production in Ogoni remains closed,but that it has made attempts to open negotiations with the communitiesinvolved in order to resume production, and to undertake development projectsaimed at resolving some of the problems faced by the Ogoni. Community members,on the other hand, reported that, while it was still deployed, the Rivers StateInternal Security Task Force forced individuals to sign statements "inviting"Shell to return. Shell has also stated at various times over the last few yearsthat it has opened negotiations with MOSOP representatives, though spokespeoplefor MOSOP have denied this, and challenged Shell's statements that its presencein Ogoni is limited to provision of social programs and attempts to arrange areconciliation with the Ogoni people, claiming that Shell staff have onoccasion entered Ogoni with security force protection to work on pipelines.MOSOP remains opposed to the reopening of Shell's production in Ogoni, statingthat the company should "clean up or clear out" by Ogoni Day, January 4, 2000.

Attempts to Import Weapons

During 1996, newspaper investigations revealed that Shellhad recently been in negotiation for the import of arms for use by the Nigerianpolice. In January 1996, in response to these allegations, Shell stated that ithad in the past imported side arms on behalf of the Nigerian police force, foruse by the "supernumerary police" who are on attachment to Shell and guard thecompany's facilities (and other oil company facilities) against general crime.The last purchase of weapons by Shell was said to be of 107 hand guns for itssupernumerary police, fifteen years before. But court papers filed in Lagos inJuly 1995 and reported in the British press in February 1996 revealed thatShell had as late as February 1995 been negotiating for the purchase of weaponsfor the Nigerian police. Shell acknowledged that it had conducted thesenegotiations but stated that none of the purchases had been concluded. However,the company stated to Human Rights Watch that it "cannot give an undertakingnot to provide weapons in the future, as, due to the deteriorating securitysituation in Nigeria, we may want to see the weapons currently used by thePolice who protect Shell people and property upgraded."

Threats to Community Members

During its investigation of the situation in the deltaduring July 1997, Human Rights Watch heard disturbing allegations of threeseparate meetings, two in connection with the same matter, at whicheyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch alleged that Shell staff, ormilitary authorities in the presence of Shell staff had directly threatenedcommunity members, using the situation in Ogoni as an example. Two of thesemeetings had occurred only days before Human Rights Watch interviewed thepeople present; the third dated back two years, to the period of KenSaro-Wiwa's trial. In another case, a youth was assaulted by Mobile Police atElf's Obite gas project, and then threatened by a manager with C&CConstruction, a contractor working at the project owned by the LebaneseChagoury family, which was close to General Abacha. When he refused to withdrawa legal complaint he brought for the assault, despite recommendations that heshould "learn the lessons from the Saro-Wiwa trial," armed men from the StateSecurity Service came to look for him, and he fled several days later to Togo.Since returning to Nigeria several months later, he has been detained severaltimes.

Oil Company Failure to Monitor or Protest Abuses

The most serious case in which an oil company is directly implicated in security force abuses continues to be the incident at Umuechem in 1990, where a Shell manager made a written and explicit request for protection from the Mobile Police (a notoriously abusive force), leading to the killing of eighty unarmed civilians and the destruction of hundreds of homes. Shell states that it has learned from the "regrettable and tragic" incident at Umuechem, so that it would now never call for Mobile Police protection and emphasizes the need for restraint to the Nigerian authorities. Nevertheless, in several of the incidents investigated by Human Rights Watch, oil companies, including Shell, or their contractors, called for security force protection in the face of protests from youths, taking no steps to ensure that such protection was provided in a non-abusive way and making no protests when violations occurred.

In July 1997, youths from Edagberi, Rivers State, for example, were detained overnight following a written complaint to the local police station by Alcon Engineering, a contractor to Shell. While it is claimed by Shell that the youths concerned had been engaged in the intimidation of its contractor, and therefore that security force intervention was appropriate, no safeguards were sought to ensure that such intervention was made in a non-abusive manner. Similarly, at Yenezue-Gene, Rivers State, where Shell faces community hostility caused by the construction of a causeway to its Gbaran oil field which had devastated a forest area of great economic importance to local residents, soldiers present at the site had harassed local community members during 1996 and 1997. Shell stated to Human Rights Watch that its contractors had called for police (though not army) assistance, "due to community hostilities." Shell did not report, in response to Human Rights Watch inquiries, that any guarantees had been sought for the good behavior of these police; the company was also unaware of reports of abusive behavior by security forces that community members stated had been made to local Shell personnel.

In an August 1995 incident at Iko, Akwa Ibom State, a community where a defective flare (used to burn off gas released at a well-head) had caused significant damage, Shell's contractor Western Geophysical stated that it had requested naval assistance to recover boats taken by youths who wanted to obtain benefits from the contractor, including employment. Following the naval intervention, Mobile Police came to the village and assaulted numerous villagers, beating to death a teacher who had acted as an interpreter in negotiations between Western Geophysical and the community. Shell has stated to Human Rights Watch that it does not call for military protection, but justified calling the navy in this case due to the terrain; it stated that the Mobile Police had been called by the navy and not by Shell or its contractor. In its detailed response Shell did not report that the company or its contractor had made any attempt to protest the Mobile Police action, simply reporting that "this incident is unrelated to Western's seismic activities."

In May 1998, when Chevron's Parabe platform was occupied by approximately 200 youths and production shut down, Chevron acknowledged that it had called for navy intervention, and that the company had flown the navy and Mobile Police to the platform. Despite the serious result of this action, including the shooting dead of two protesters whom it admitted were unarmed, Chevron did not indicate, in response to inquiries from Human Rights Watch, that any attempt had been made to prevent abusive actions by the security forces in advance of the confrontation. Nor did it state that concern had been expressed to the authorities over the incident or that any steps would be taken to avoid similar incidents in future. Chevron's response concerning an earlier case involving a Chevron facility in which a youth was killed by Mobile Police in July 1997 at Opuama, Bayelsa State, similarly included nothing to indicate that it had raised human rights concerns with the authorities over the incident.

Calling for security force protection increases the responsibility of the oil company to ensure that intervention does not result in human rights violations; but even if the security forces have acted on their behalf without a specific company request for assistance companies cannot be indifferent to resulting abuse. Yet in the great majority of cases the oil companies do not report any attempt to monitor or protest human rights violations by the security forces against those who have raised concerns about environmental problems, requested financial compensation or employment, protested oil company activity, or threatened oil production. In a handful of high-profile cases of detention, one or two oil companies have, under consumer pressure in Europe and the U.S., made public statements, but the great majority go unremarked. In none of the cases of abuse researched by Human Rights Watch which had not reached the international press did any of the oil companies indicate that they had registered concern with the authorities. In the cases reviewed, it was generally only after the behavior of the Nigerian authorities had embarrassed the oil companies on the international stage that action of any kind ensued on behalf of those who were abused by the security forces. In other cases, the oil companies said they were ignorant of arrests or beatings that had occurred, although some concerned quite major incidents at their facilities.

Shell, for example, denied knowledge of detentions that took place following major disturbances during June and July 1995 at Egbema, Imo State, during which Mobile Police carried out indiscriminate beatings and arrested more than thirty people, detaining them for several weeks without trial, before releasing them on bail charged with sabotage. Instead, Shell stated that the disputes at that time had been "amicably settled," through negotiations between the community and the military administration. Elf denied to Human Rights Watch that it knew of the beating and detention of an activist at its Obite gas project in October 1998. Agip, when asked about the case of a youth beaten to death by security guards at its Clough Creek flow station, near Egbemo-Angalabiri, did not even respond to community representations nor to inquiries from Human Rights Watch. When several hundred people were arrested following demonstrations over a January 12, 1998 spill from an offshore pipeline near its Qua Iboe terminal, Mobil did publicly distance itself from the arrests, but did not indicate that any protests had been made to the authorities, stating to reporters in Lagos: "It is a security issue. It is nothing to do with Mobil at all."

Shell's Internal Review Since 1995

Since the international focus on its Nigerian holdings in 1995, the Royal Dutch/Shell group has undertaken a major review of its attitude toward communities and issues of human rights and sustainable development. No other oil company operating in Nigeria has, so far as Human Rights Watch is aware, announced any similar review of its policies and practices as a they relate to human rights violations committed in connection with oil company operations. While we welcome this introspection, the test of its effectiveness in changing Shell's practice can only be gauged by its performance on the ground in countries like Nigeria. It is too soon to tell whether this performance will be changed.


There can be no solution to the simmering conflict in the oil producing areas of the delta until its people gain the right to participate in their own governance and until the protection of the rule of law is extended to their communities. The injustices facing the peoples of the delta are in many ways the same as those facing all Nigerians after decades of rule by successive military regimes, yet in the oil producing regions the suppression of political activity, the lack of legal redress for damage to the environment and the resulting loss of livelihood, and the sheer ubiquity of human rights abuses by the region's security forces have generated greater protest, in turn generating greater repression. While the death of General Abacha and the succession of General Abubakar has recently improved respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Nigeria, the situation in the delta remains fundamentally unchanged-as the recent escalation of protest actions has demonstrated.

The first responsibility for resolving these injustices lies with the Nigerian government. Yet the multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria cannot avoid their own share of responsibility. It is not enough simply to say that the political environment in Nigeria is as difficult for the oil companies as it is for anyone else, and that the oil industry does not have the power to alter government policy towards the oil regions: the oil companies in many respects contribute towards the discontent in the delta and to conflict within and between communities that results in repressive government responses. The oil companies must take all steps to ensure that oil production does not continue at the cost of their host communities simply because of the threat or actual use of force against those who protest their activities. There is an ever-growing likelihood that, unless corrective action is taken, protest in the oil areas will become violent in an organized and concerted way, with consequent reprisals and an ever-worsening security situation that will harm all those with interests in the delta region, whether residents or companies.


To the Nigerian Government

•           Ensure thatthe ethnic groups resident in the oil producing areas are able to make theirvoices heard within Nigeria's political system.

•Respect therights of those in the oil producing communities to freedom of expression,association and assembly.

•Ceaseharassment of individuals and organizations that engage in research into oilindustry compliance with environmental and other international and industrystandards, and of activists seeking to hold oil operators and their contractorsto these standards.

•Immediatelyand unconditionally release-or release on bail, charge with legallyrecognizable criminal offenses and try promptly before a regular courtrespecting international standards of due process-all individuals who arearbitrarily detained or imprisoned, and repeal decrees enabling detentionwithout charge, including Decree No. 2 of 1984.

•Ensure thatconditions of detention and imprisonment are in full compliance withinternational standards and obey all court orders for individuals held incustody to be released, produced before court, allowed visitors, given accessto lawyers or doctors of their choice, removed to hospital when a prison or personaldoctor recommends, or permitted reading material.

•Restore theindependence of the judiciary by instituting appointment and removal proceduresthat do not involve the executive, giving the judiciary and courts adequatefinancial resources and autonomy, repealing decrees that oust the jurisdictionof the courts to consider executive acts, and obeying court orders.

•Allow membersof the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and of otherorganizations formed to challenge the operations of the oil industry in Nigeriato organize, meet and express their views, in accordance with internationalstandards.

•Allow freedomof association and protection of the right to organize in accordance withConvention 87 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and repeal decreesrestricting these rights.

•Appoint anindependent judicial inquiry into the actions of the security forces in the oilproducing areas, make public the findings of the inquiry, and bring to trialthose alleged to be responsible for human rights abuses.

•Appoint anindependent judicial inquiry into the situation in Ogoni, including the role ofShell staff and contractors, as well as the security forces, in past humanrights violations, and bring to trial those alleged to be responsible for humanrights abuses.

•Set up aprocess for paying compensation to the relatives of the Ogoni activistsexecuted on November 10, 1995, in accordance with the recommendations of thefact-finding mission of the U.N. secretary-general and the U.N. specialrapporteur on the situation of human rights in Nigeria.

•Establish acommittee composed of representatives of minority communities in the oilproducing regions (including the Ogoni) for the purpose of examining thesituation of these communities and providing redress for rights that have beenviolated, in accordance with the recommendations of the fact-finding mission ofthe U.N. secretary-general, the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and CulturalRights, and the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights inNigeria.

•Undertake areview of laws affecting the relations of oil companies with the communities inwhich they operate, including the Land Use Act, the Petroleum Production andDistribution (Anti-Sabotage) Act, the Petroleum Decree and its subsidiarylegislation, and other laws regulating payment of compensation for damage tolivelihoods caused by oil operations, with a view to ensuring that thoseadversely affected are adequately compensated and protected by due process of law.

•Take thenecessary legislative or other steps to require all oil companies operating inNigeria.

•To publishall details relating to security arrangements for the protection of oilfacilities and to ensure that all security staff employed by the company,including "supernumerary police" seconded from the Nigerian police force, aretrained in human rights standards. Establish effective monitoring systems toensure that these standards are followed and that criminal proceedings, ifappropriate, are instituted where they are violated.

•To publishall documents relating to payments, gifts or contracts in relation tooperations in the oil producing communities, including payments of compensationfor oil spillages.

•To carry outa "human rights impact assessment," identifying in particular problems relatedto security provision and conflict resolution, in addition to the alreadyrequired "environmental impact assessment," to develop plans to avoid theproblems identified by such assessments, and to cancel the project if theycannot be avoided.

•To ensure thewidest possible consultation of the people who will be affected by oilinstallations in their planning, and the greatest possible transparency in whatis planned, so that oil operations have the consent of those who will suffertheir negative consequences.

To the International Oil Companies Operating in Nigeria

•Developguidelines on making or maintaining investments in or withdrawing fromcountries where there is a pattern of ongoing and systematic violation of humanrights.

•Adoptexplicit company policies in support of human rights; establish procedures toensure that company activities do not result in human rights abuses; andpublish annual reports to shareholders on the company's activities in Nigeria,including information on the nature and extent of the company's relations withthe Nigerian government and measures taken to prevent human rights abuses bythe Nigerian security forces in the oil producing areas.

•Jointlyestablish a committee of the Oil Producers Trade Section of the Lagos Chamberof Commerce which will monitor the human rights situation in the oil producingcommunities and make public and private protests to the Nigerian governmentwhen violations occur.

•In addition,as individual companies, appoint specific high ranking corporate officialsresponsible for monitoring in detail respect for human rights in the oilproducing communities, publicly and privately call on the Nigerian governmentto restrain the use of armed force in oil producing areas, condemn human rightsabuses by Nigerian security forces in the areas where the companies areoperating, both in general and in specific cases, and make clear thatactivities undertaken in defense of oil company installations must be in accordancewith international human rights principles.

•Include inwritten agreements with the Nigerian government relating to the regulation ofthe oil industry, especially any agreements relating specifically to security,provisions requiring state security forces operating in the area of companyoperations to conform to the human rights obligations the government hasassumed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, theAfrican Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other international humanrights and humanitarian norms.

•Make publicthe provisions of security agreements with state entities and privateorganizations.

•Insist onscreening security force members assigned for their protection, to ensure thatno member of the military or police credibly implicated in past human rightsabuses is engaged in protecting oil facilities. Companies should similarlyscreen security staff in their direct employment.

•Ensure thatall security staff employed by or assigned to the company, including"supernumerary police" seconded from the Nigerian police force, are trained inhuman rights standards, providing the same training to all those within thecompany authorized to have contact with the Nigerian authorities in connectionwith security threats to oil installations.

•Investigateall reported abuses, and make public and private protests to the authoritieswhere excessive force is used, or where arbitrary detentions or other abusestake place. Publish details of reported incidents and the findings of internalinvestigations in their annual reports both in Nigeria and in the country oftheir head office.

•Publicly andprivately call on the Nigerian authorities to institute disciplinary orcriminal proceedings, as appropriate, against those responsible for abuses andto compensate the victims. Companies should monitor the status of suchinvestigations and press for resolution of the cases, publicly condemning unduedelay.

•Adoptinternal guidelines surrounding the provision of security for their facilities,emphasizing the need to ensure respect for human rights, and establisheffective monitoring systems to ensure that these guidelines are followed andthat disciplinary proceedings are instituted where they are violated.

•When newfacilities or investments are planned, carry out a "human rights impactassessment," identifying in particular problems related to security provisionand conflict resolution, in addition to the legally required "environmentalimpact assessment," and develop plans to avoid the problems identified by suchassessments. If they cannot be avoided, cancel the project.

•Ensure thewidest possible consultation of the people who will be affected by oilinstallations in their planning, and the greatest possible transparency in whatis planned, to ensure that oil operations have the consent of those who willsuffer their negative consequences.

•In the caseof Shell, publicly and privately call for and cooperate with an independentjudicial inquiry into the situation in Ogoni, including the role of Shell staffand contractors, as well as the security forces, in past human rightsviolations.

•Publicly andprivately call on the Nigerian government to establish an independent judicialinquiry into the actions of the security forces in the oil producing areas,including security specifically posted to oil installations, and to bring totrial those alleged to be responsible for violent abuses, and fully cooperatewith such an inquiry and prosecutions.

•Publicly andprivately call on the Nigerian government to allow freedom of assembly,association and expression, in particular with respect to grievances directedagainst the oil industry and in accordance with ILO Convention 87, and protestparticular cases where these rights are not respected.

•Publicly andprivately call on the Nigerian government to release unconditionally all thosedetained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly andassociation, especially in the oil producing communities, and to ensure fairand prompt trials before independent tribunals for all those charged withcriminal offences.

•Make publicall documents relating to payments, gifts or contracts relating to operationsin the oil producing communities, including payments of compensation for oilspillages.

•Ensure thatoil operations are carried out in accordance with all local environmentallegislation in force in Nigeria, or with international standards if they arehigher.

•Support thedevelopment of civil society in Nigeria by cooperating with nongovernmentalorganizations for human rights and environmental research and advocacy, andwith universities and institutes engaged in academic research and policydevelopment in these areas.

•Provideaccess to company facilities, officials, and documentation relevant to theprotection and promotion of human rights, to personnel of domestic andinternational nongovernmental human rights and environmental organizations.

•Reviewprograms of community assistance to ensure that development projects areplanned by people who are professionally trained, that all members ofcommunities can participate in devising development plans-and not only eliteswho already have good relations with the oil industry, and that projectsgenuinely address the needs of the people in those communities. Considerestablishing independent, professionally administered bodies for theimplementation of development projects.

•Develop andpublicize policies to provide compensation to victims of human rights abusecommitted by the Nigerian security forces or oil company private securityeither at oil company facilities or in connection with protests at oil companyactivity. Consider establishing independently and professionally administeredfunds for this purpose.

•Arrangeindependently funded verification, by national and internationalnongovernmental organizations and other appropriate bodies, of compliance bythe company with international human rights and environmental standards.

To the International Community

•Maintainexisting sanctions in place until an elected civilian government is installedin Nigeria, following a transition program that complies with internationalstandards, set clear benchmarks that must be observed to satisfy thosestandards, and make clear that additional sanctions may be implemented(including the restoration of visa restrictions against members of thegovernment and security forces and other measures), both multilaterally andbilaterally, if such a program is not successfully completed.

•Develop U.N.guidelines on the conduct of multinational companies, including oil companies,as regards human rights and other international standards, based on the draftU.N. Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations, the ILO TripartiteDeclaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and SocialPolicy, and other appropriate standards.

•Re-establishwithin the U.N. system a commission on transnational corporations with amandate to examine the human rights implications of activities by multinationalcompanies.

•Support theefforts of Nigerian individuals and nongovernmental organizations who aremonitoring and protesting violations of environmental and human rightsstandards in the oil producing communities, by channeling developmentassistance to them and by raising concerns surrounding these issues publiclyand privately with the Nigerian government and the multinational oil companiesdirectly.

•Take steps tocoordinate action by different international actors to monitor and promoterespect for human rights in Nigeria, including the U.N., Commonwealth, OAU,E.U., U.S., individual E.U. member states and other countries.


Crude Oil

The first discovery of commercial quantities of oil inNigeria was in 1956 at Oloibiri, about ninety kilometers west of Port Harcourtin what is now Bayelsa State; other discoveries soon followed and exports beganin 1958, although significant quantities only began to flow from 1965, with thecompletion of a terminal on Bonny Island, on the Atlantic coast, and pipelinesto feed the terminal. Following a drop in production due to the civil war of1967 to 1970, output rose rapidly from 1970, and by 1974 oil revenuesconstituted over 80 percent of total federal revenues and over 90 percent ofexport earnings, figures which have remained similar since then. In 1980, whenoil export revenues peaked at U.S.$24.9 billion, external indebtedness hadreached U.S.$9 billion, oil accounted for 27 percent of Gross Domestic Product(GDP), about 80 percent of government revenues and expenditures, and 96 percentof total export receipts.[1][1]Today, the petroleum sector comprises more than 40 percent of GDP, continuingto provide more than 95 percent of exports.[2][2]

Estimates of Nigeria's oil reserves range from 16 billion to22 billion barrels.[3][3]Most of this oil is found in small fields in the coastal areas of the NigerDelta (according to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, there are 159 oilfields, producing from 1,481 wells).[4][4]As a result, there is a need for a developed network of pipelines between thefields, as well as for constant exploration to augment existing oil reserves.Nigerian crude is classified as "light" and "sweet," with a low sulphurcontent, similar in quality to North Sea varieties, and its price is linked tothe price for Brent. Average operational costs in Nigeria are around U.S.$2.50a barrel, higher than the Persian Gulf, but lower than the Gulf of Mexico andthe North Sea; other local expenses, including the payment of kickbacks to governmentofficials and other corruption, are estimated to push costs up by anotherU.S.$1.00 a barrel.[5][5]Nigerian crude oil production averaged 2.21 million barrels per day (bpd) forthe first nine months of 1997, half a million barrels per day above the country's1.865 million bpd quota set by the Organization of Petroleum ExportingCountries (OPEC). Nigeria's quota rose to 2.042 million bpd in 1998 as a resultof the OPEC meeting of November 1997; but, with the collapse of the oil priceearly in the year, Nigeria promised to cut back production by 125,000 bpd fromApril 1998, in line with an OPEC agreement attempting to halt the downwardtrend in prices.[6][6]In July 1998, the oil multinationals operating in Nigeria were given an orderto cut a further 100,000 bpd, in accordance with another OPEC ruling.[7][7]Nonetheless, output of 2.3 million bpd was reported in March 1998, and Ministerof Petroleum Resources Dan Etete was said to have set a target of 3 million bpdby 2002 and 4 million bpd by 2010.[8][8]This oil is exported mainly to the U.S. and Western Europe. Nigeria is thefifth largest supplier of crude to the U.S., sending an average of 699,000 bpdduring the first nine months of 1997, or approximately 30 percent of itsoutput.[9][9]

The Structure of Oil Company Agreements with the NigerianGovernment

According to the Nigerian constitution, all minerals, oil,and gas in Nigeria belong to the federal government.[10][10]Nigeria did not have sufficient indigenous expertise at the time oil wasdiscovered to develop the oil reserves itself, and in all likelihood still doesnot. In this context, the federal government negotiates the terms of oilproduction with international oil companies, and takes a proportion of therevenue generated. Since independence in 1960, and in concert with theresolutions of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),[11][11]the government has steadily increased both its control over and the degree ofcompetition within Nigerian oil production.

From 1914, the date of the Colonial Mineral Ordinance, thefirst oil related legislation in the new colonial state of Nigeria, the grantof licenses for oil production was restricted to British companies andindividuals. In 1937, the Shell D'Arcy company, jointly owned by Shell and byBritish Petroleum (B.P.), was given exclusive exploration and production rightsin the whole of Nigeria. This monopoly was maintained until 1955, when theconcession area was reduced and Mobil entered the field for the first time. In1960, Nigeria gained independence from Britain; by 1962, Shell's concessionareas had been further reduced, to the most promising areas, and othercompanies also began exploration. By the mid-1960s, Gulf Oil (now Chevron),Elf, and Agip were all involved in production. In 1959, still under colonial rule,the Petroleum Profits Tax Ordinance introduced a fifty-fifty profit sharebetween the oil companies and the government; in 1967, the government imposedOPEC terms on the companies operating in Nigeria, ensuring that much greaterroyalties were paid.[12][12]The 1968 Companies Decree forced all companies operating in Nigeria to becomeNigerian corporations; the 1969 Petroleum Decree further increased statecontrol of the industry, and remains the basis for the regulatory system inoperation today. The 1970s saw partial nationalization of the industry, as theNigerian government took an equity stake in the oil industry, raising itsparticipation in most companies from 35 percent in 1971, to 55 percent in 1974,and 60 percent in 1979.[13][13]

The main onshore exploration and production activitiesundertaken today by foreign oil companies in Nigeria are in joint ventures withthe Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the state oil company.[14][14]The distribution of shares in a joint venture determines the division of investmentin all capital projects carried out by the operating company, includingexploration, drilling, construction, or environmental improvements; theparticipating shareholders also jointly own the reserves still in the ground.The multinational companies operate these joint ventures, and take allday-to-day decisions in their management.

The six joint ventures involving foreign owned oil companiesare operated by the following companies:[15][15]

•ShellPetroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC): A joint ventureoperated by Shell accounts for more than forty percent of Nigeria's total oilproduction (899,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 1997) from more than eighty oilfields. The joint venture is composed of NNPC (55 percent), Shell (30 percent),Elf (10 percent) and Agip (5 percent) and operates largely onshore on dry landor in the mangrove swamp.[16][16]

•ChevronNigeria Limited (CNL): A joint venture between NNPC (60 percent) and Chevron(40 percent) has in the past been the second largest producer (approximately400,000 bpd), with fields located in the Warri region west of the Niger riverand offshore in shallow water. It is reported to aim to increase production to600,000 bpd.[17][17]

•MobilProducing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU): A joint venture between NNPC (60 percent)and Mobil (40 percent) operates in shallow water off Akwa Ibom state in thesoutheastern delta and averaged production of 632,000 bpd in 1997, making itthe second largest producer, as against 543,000 bpd in 1996. Mobil also holds a50 percent interest in a Production Sharing Contract for a deep water blockfurther offshore, and is reported to plan to increase output to 900,000 bpd by2000.[18][18]Oil industry sources indicate that Mobil is likely to overtake Shell as thelargest producer in Nigeria within the next five years, if current trendscontinue.

•Nigerian AgipOil Company Limited (NAOC): A joint venture operated by Agip and owned by NNPC(60 percent), Agip (20 percent) and Phillips Petroleum (20 percent) produces150,000 bpd mostly from small onshore fields.

•Elf PetroleumNigeria Limited (EPNL): A joint venture between NNPC (60 percent) and Elf (40percent) produced approximately 125,000 bpd during 1997, both on and offshore.Elf and Mobil are in dispute over operational control of an offshore field witha production capacity of 90,000 bpd.

•TexacoOverseas Petroleum Company of Nigeria Unlimited (TOPCON): A joint ventureoperated by Texaco and owned by NNPC (60 percent), Texaco (20 percent) andChevron (20 percent) currently produces about 60,000 bpd from five offshorefields.

Under the terms of the more-or-less standard Memorandum ofUnderstanding (MOU) between each oil company and the Nigerian federalgovernment, the operating company in a joint venture receives a fixed sum perbarrel provided the price of oil per barrel remains within certain margins. Therisk and benefit of oil price fluctuations thus largely accrue to thegovernment. For example, provided the oil price remains between U.S.$12.50 andU.S.$23 a barrel, the Shell joint venture pays U.S.$3 per barrel to bedistributed to the private shareholders according to their shareholding and toprovide future investment, U.S.$2 goes to notional operating costs, and theremainder is paid to the government.[19][19]The last MOU was negotiated between the government and the oil companies in1991, for five years. Although due for renewal, no new MOU has been agreed. Inaddition, each joint venture has a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with NNPC,which governs the administrative arrangements between the partners.

Aside from the partners in the six main joint ventures,other foreign oil companies involved in Nigeria include B.P, Statoil, Total,Pan Ocean, British Gas, Tenneco, Deminex, and Sun Oil.

In recent years, the Nigerian government has also endeavoredto increase indigenous participation in the oil industry. Over twenty localfirms have been awarded oil mining leases, allowing them to produce, and thegovernment has issued new guidelines for the development of "marginal fields"which favor local companies, threatening to review the license arrangements ofNNPC's joint venture partners and reallocate to indigenous operators marginalfields in blocks previously granted to the oil majors. In August 1996, thePetroleum (Amendment) Decree provided that any holder of an oil mining leasemay farm out any marginal field within its area, with the consent of the headof state, and also that the head of state may compulsorily farm out a marginalfield where it has been left unexploited for ten or more years.[20][20]Although this threat has not been carried out, due to legal and commercialobjections from some of the partners, notably Shell, who claim that such fieldsare unexploited because of funding difficulties caused by NNPC, former Ministerof Petroleum Resources Dan Etete looked set to move forward with the proposal.[21][21]If the new government does implement the decree, abandoned or underexploitedfields will be recovered from joint venture partners and production rightsre-allocated. Foreign firms may participate as technical partners, but theywill be limited to a maximum of 40 percent equity.[22][22]Some deals of this type have gone through on a voluntary basis: in May 1997 itwas reported that Nigerian African Petroleum had taken on U.S. company Huffco(founded by a former U.S. ambassador, Roy Huffington) as a technical partner ina deal to acquire marginal acreage from Chevron.[23][23]

Disagreements between the oil companies and the Nigeriangovernment over the level of funding budgeted by the government for the jointventures with NNPC have dominated the politics of the upstream (exploration andproduction) sector in recent years. Funding to the NNPC from the FinanceMinistry was below budgeted levels throughout the period during which GeneralAbacha was head of state, and consequently exploration and other investment inthe joint ventures has been greatly reduced. In the budget for the coming yearannounced in early January 1998, the U.S.$2.5 billion allocated to the sixjoint ventures was again more than U.S.$1 billion below the amount requested bythe international oil companies. By April 1998, the oil companies were reportedto be considering borrowing on the international capital markets to make up theshortfall.[24][24]

Although the cuts affected all the six main joint venture partners,they were not, reportedly, at a uniform across-the-board rate, leaving the oilcompanies fighting over the distribution of the money that has been allocatedand exacerbating the usual rivalry for political goodwill with the key playersin the military government. In this regard, Mobil and Chevron were active inthe U.S., lobbying to fight off threats of oil sanctions against Nigeria; Shellbelieves it suffered as a result of the more assertive stand of the U.K. LabourParty government against the Nigerian military; while Elf, with the support ofthe French government (which regularly flouted European Union visa restrictionsfor members of the Nigerian government coming to France for discussions withoil companies and argued for those sanctions to be lifted) and apparently in aneffort to curry favor with the Nigerian government, drilled a well in anoffshore area over which Nigeria has a territorial dispute with EquatorialGuinea, and which is already being explored on behalf of Equatorial Guinea by Mobil.[25][25]

One of the consequences of the perpetual financial wranglesbetween the Finance Ministry, NNPC, and the oil companies has been a shift toproduction sharing contracts (PSCs). Under a PSC the operator covers allexploration and development costs and pays tax and royalties to the governmentonly when it starts to produce; the contractor has title to oil produced, butnot to oil in the ground. Since PSCs entail no capital expenditure from thestate oil company there is less risk of political interference to the foreigninvestor. New prospecting licences and mining leases granted in the deep waterfields off the Nigerian coast have been on these terms, and the oil companieshave been pushing for the onshore joint ventures to be converted, freeing themfrom the annual budget struggle.

Following the death of Gen. Sani Abacha, Gen. AbdulsalamiAbubakar, the new head of state, announced that "as a first step" he hadimmediately paid a quarterly amount of U.S.$630 million in line withoutstanding "cash call" obligations to the joint venture partners (though nocommitment was made that underpayment for the first quarter of 1998 would beredressed), and that the government was "currently reviewing an alternativefunding mechanism for the joint venture operations with a view to permanentlyeliminating the cash call problem."[26][26]The speech was welcomed by the oil majors, and negotiations for a new structureare continuing. The fall in the oil price, however, meant that, at U.S.2billion, the cash call contributions announced in the January 1999 budgetspeech were again well below those requested by the oil companies, and arrearsremained unpaid.

Natural Gas

In addition to its oil wealth, Nigeria has an estimated104.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven natural gas reserves, the tenthlargest reserves in the world; reserves may in fact be as high as 300 tcf.[27][27]Plans to exploit this gas by liquefying it and shipping it to gas markets inEurope and the U.S. date back at least thirty years.

In November 1995, in a move heavily criticized by humanrights groups, including Human Rights Watch, since it was in the immediate wakeof the internationally condemned executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight otherOgoni activists, a project to construct a U.S.$3-4 billion liquefied natural gas(LNG) facility on Bonny Island was finally announced. When completed, plannedfor 1999, it will be able to process 5.2 million metric tonnes per year (mmt/y)of LNG. Nigeria LNG Ltd, which is developing the project, is a consortiumjointly owned by NNPC (49 percent), Shell (25.6 percent), Elf (15 percent), andAgip (10.4 percent). It is planned that "non-associated" gas, from gasreserves, will be used to supply the facility initially, but "associated" gas,produced as a by-product of oil extraction, will comprise 65 percent of supplyby 2010.[28][28]Nigeria LNG Ltd has been subject to disagreements among its partners. In June1997, oil minister Etete dissolved the board of directors of the company andaccused Shell of using its position as technical adviser to the project "tosubject other shareholders to its whims and caprices."[29][29]The project does, however, appear to be moving forward: by May 1998, all but 5percent of its projected production had been sold, and there were new plans toadd 50 percent to its capacity.[30][30]

In July 1998, a liquefied natural gas plant jointly owned byMobil (51 percent) and NNPC (49 percent) came on stream, producing 50,000 bpd.Also based at Bonny, the facility collects associated gas from Mobil's Osofield.[31][31]

In addition, there are plans to build a West African gaspipeline to transport Nigerian gas to Ghana, Togo, and Benin. In October 1998,Chevron, responsible for the project, succeeded in signing up its firstpotential customer, a twenty-year commitment from a Ghanaian power-plant run byVirginia-based KMR Power.[32][32]

The Downstream Sector

Exploration and production is referred to in the oilindustry as the "upstream" sector; processing of crude oil into the variouspetroleum products is the "downstream" sector. Nigeria has refineries in Kaduna(in the "middle belt" of the country, outside the oil producing area), in Warri(Delta State), and two in Port Harcourt (Rivers State), with a nominal totalcapacity of 445,000 bpd. However, chronic lack of maintenance means that therefineries rarely if ever operate at this level, usually coming in at around200,000 bpd or less: in December 1997, for example, crude oil allocation to therefineries was cut to 150,000 bpd, as a result of the poor state of equipmentin the plants.[33][33]In November 1998, a breakdown of the fluid catalytic cracker at the 125,000 bpdWarri refinery left the country without a single operational catalytic cracker,needed to separate different petroleum products from crude.[34][34]The older refinery in Port Harcourt has been out of regular production since1989; the new refinery was commissioned in 1989 and has a nominal capacity of150,000 bpd. There are also petrochemicals plants at Eleme, on the edge ofOgoniland, near Port Harcourt, and two in Ekpan, Warri.[35][35]

If all the refineries are working, output of gasoline shouldbe thirteen million liters a day; instead it was in July 1997, for example,less than five million liters a day. Domestic demand was estimated at the sametime to be around eighteen million liters a day.[36][36]The Nigerian government was for a large part of 1997 in negotiation with Frenchoil company Total to carry out "turnaround maintenance" at the 110,000 bpdKaduna refinery at a cost of U.S.$240 million, a deal favored by financeminister Anthony Ani, though oil minister Etete claimed that it could be doneat a cost of U.S.$170 million by NNPC.[37][37]In May 1998, it was reported that Total had finally started work on the projectand hoped to have the refinery back in production by July, subject to funding.[38][38]In mid-August, it was hoped it would resume production "in the next few weeks";in November, the refinery was still out of commission.[39][39]In September 1998, NNPC appointed Shell as technical adviser for the turnaroundmaintenance of the Port Harcourt refinery complex.[40][40]

The price of gasoline (petrol) on the forecourts ofNigeria's gas stations was fixed at _11 (eleven naira; U.S.12¢) per liter fromNovember 1994 (when it was raised from _3.25 (U.S.4¢)) until December 1998,when it was raised to _25 (U.S.28¢).[41][41]Previous attempts to reduce the level of subsidy in recent years, prompted bynegotiations with the IMF for structural adjustment lending beginning in 1986,or otherwise, have led to street riots, strikes and security clamp-downs onseveral occasions, most recently in 1992. Following negotiations with the unionumbrella organization the Nigerian Labour Congress over a threat to strike, thegovernment announced that it would review the increase, and on January 7, 1999,the price was reduced again to _20.[42][42]Nevertheless, on January 4, five were shot dead in riots in Lagos over the fuelprice rise. During fuel shortages unofficial gasoline prices can rise manytimes: during a shortage in April 1997, for example, a fifty-liter can wasselling for _4,000 (U.S.$44), more than seven times the usual price; in July1998, a liter was going for _400 (U.S.$4.44) on the black market.[43][43]

Nigeria's perennial shortages of fuel and other refinedpetroleum products have owed perhaps as much to corruption as to refiningshortfalls. Allocations of refined products to political favorites by thepresident's office have often been sold in neighboring countries, where priceshave been up to fifteen times higher-in 1993 some oil industry sourcesestimated that up to 100,000 bpd were being smuggled into Benin, Cameroon andNiger.[44][44]The Abacha government itself identified hoarding and smuggling as major causesof fuel shortage, and threatened those alleged to be involved with trial beforethe Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal.[45][45]The right to import gasoline also allows spectacular profits to be made:although expensive for the country, individual oil trading companies and theirpolitical sponsors have made lucrative deals based on crude-for-refined swapsor cash deals; the government budgeted U.S.$600 million for import of fuelbetween January and September 1998.[46][46]Large up-front payments for the right to such deals are common: in mid 1997,for example, Swiss trader Glencore was said to have paid a sum of severalmillion dollars for a contract to supply thirty-three cargoes of petroleumproducts.[47][47]At the same time it was estimated that NNPC had overpaid by about U.S.$20million since late 1995 for deliveries of Saudi Arab Light oil to the Kadunarefinery, as a result of "high-level interference in structuring the deal,"which was based on swaps for Nigerian oil.[48][48]Hence, although fuel shortages are usually precipitated by refinery breakdowns,they can also be generated or exacerbated by profit-seeking among governmentofficials.

In October 1997, while the Kaduna refinery was completelyclosed down and the usual technical problems reduced output from Port Harcourtand Warri, a twenty-cargo import program was awarded to Swiss-based tradingfirm Glencore, supplied by German refiner Wintershall AG. This fuel was found bythe Nigerian Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) to have beencontaminated with a high level of pyrolysis gasoline, that could be hazardousto human health. Residents of traffic-choked Lagos complained of nausea andrespiratory problems.[49][49]Fuel shortages persisted through 1998, and in March 1998-at which time only oneof Nigeria's refineries was working, producing only 70,000 bpd and forcing aclosedown of much of Nigerian industry-further contracts were awarded toWintershall and Glencore for import of thirty 30,000 tonne cargoes of petroleumproducts.[50][50]Commissions on these contracts were reported to have averaged U.S.$14 to $15 atonne. The Wintershall contracts were canceled by General Abubakar on Abacha'sdeath, and contracts for import of fuel given to the major oil companiesinstead: following their cancellation officials of the state-owned Pipelinesand Products Marketing Company (PPMC) estimated that Nigeria had overpaid byabout U.S.$10 per tonne and stated that the government would not pay for thefuel, which in any event did not comply with specifications.[51][51]Abubakar also announced that payments in hard currency for fuel supplies wouldno longer require presidential approval, while funds would be released for therehabilitation of the refineries. Shell, Elf, Agip, and Mobil were contractedto import a total of forty cargoes of petroleum products, producing hugesavings over the Glencore/Wintershall contracts.[52][52]Within a few months, however, this new regime had broken down, and the oiltraders were back in business, including Glencore as well as several involvedin the business under the government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, reportedly atthe same inflated prices.[53][53]The fuel shortage remained as severe as ever at the end of the year.

The ongoing fuel crisis had tragic effects on SaturdayOctober 17, 1998, when more than one thousand people were burned to death by anexplosion at a ruptured NNPC petroleum products pipeline at Jesse, near Warri,Delta State. Those killed were collecting fuel from the pipeline-fuelunavailable from the proper sources. It was not clear whether the leak had beendeliberately created to tap the fuel or was due to mechanical failure, althoughthe government immediately claimed it was due to sabotage and that consequentlythere was no question of compensation. The government appointed a panel fromwithin NNPC to investigate the causes of the disaster, but resisted calls foran independent inquiry.[54][54]


Conflict in the Niger Delta is directly related to thedebates, ongoing since before independence, about the structure of the Nigerianpolity. It can be assumed that there would have been disputes as to therelationship between center and periphery in Nigeria in any economic circumstances,given the complexity of the country and the lack of established nationwidedemocratic institutions at independence. Yet the addition of oil production andoil wealth to the difficulties already posed by the problem of ruling a countryof at least 250 ethnic groups, each with its separate traditions of government,has greatly increased the potential for conflict and the stakes at play in thatconflict. The following section attempts to give some idea of the way in whichthe Nigerian federal system has developed and how it has been shaped by theinflux of oil wealth. At the heart of discontent among the oil producingcommunities is an acute sense that the wealth derived from their land issiphoned off by the federal government and never returned: the seemingly drydebates on revenue allocation formulae are central to the cycle of protest andrepression.

State Creation and Revenue Allocation

The history of Nigeria since independence has been dominatedby attempts to restructure the federation into a form acceptable to all thevarious peoples it houses. The trend has been towards increasing fragmentationof state structures, as the federal government has sought to appease thedemands of the different minority groups by the creation of new states andlocal government areas. This fragmentation of government has been,paradoxically, paralleled by increasing centralization in practice, asindividual states have become less and less viable without federal financialsupport and oil revenues have supplanted all others as the foundation of theNigerian economy.

The boundaries of the territory now known as Nigeria werefirst defined in 1907. Nigeria itself was brought for the first time under onegovernmentin 1914 by the amalgamation of two British colonial protectorates.Although the country was in theory ruled as a single unit, in practice thenorthern and southern parts of the country were administered by the British asdistinct entities with little attempt at coordination. The policy of "indirectrule" strengthened, centralized, and reduced the flexibility of existingstructures of authority, especially in the north, where powerful emiratesformed the basis of local government. In 1939 the colonial government dividedthe Southern Protectorate into the Eastern and Western Protectorates, but thethree units were still administered without any central political focus orrepresentative institution. Only in 1954 did Nigeria became a true federationwith a central government, including a Federal House of Representatives (responsiblefor foreign relations, defense, the police, overall aspects of trade andfinance policy, and major transport and communications issues), and threeconstituent components with a large degree of autonomy in all other matters:the Northern, Western, and Eastern Regions. At the same time, elected regionalhouses of assembly were created for the Eastern and Western Regions withindependent legislative powers, the British governor retaining only limitedresponsibilities; the North, however, at the request of its own house ofassembly, only gained self-rule in 1959, one year before independence.[55][55]

At independence, the Western Region was the richest, as aresult of the presence of the capital and port of Lagos, cocoa production, andmuch of the industrial development in Nigeria, as well as early access toeducation. The Eastern Region, economically dependent on palm oil production,already suffered substantial population pressure on the available land anddepended on food imports. The Northern Region was larger in population and areathan the other regions combined, but was also the poorest and least educated.[56][56]In each of these three regions, a majority ethnic group constituted abouttwo-thirds of the population, the Hausa-Fulani in the north, the Yoruba in thewest, and the Igbo in the east; the remaining third being made up of variousminority groups. In the absence of an indigenous or even colonial tradition ofpolitical unity, ethnic loyalties became the dominant force in politicalorganization; as a consequence, the minority groups, of which there may be 250or more in Nigeria, were in practice politically subordinated to their largerneighbors.

During the debates in the constitutional conference that wasestablished in 1953 to decide the form of the future independent state, theseminority groups expressed fears as to their domination by the majorityHausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo in each region. The British government appointeda commission of inquiry to investigate these fears and advise on safeguards tobe included in the constitution to address them. This commission, known as theWillink Commission, after its chair, Henry Willink, reported in 1958. TheWillink Commission considered and rejected demands for the creation of newstates, but recommended certain other administrative arrangements to allay thefears of minorities, in the form of constitutional guarantees of certainrights, regional advisory councils for "minority areas," and a federal board toconsider the specific problems of the riverine areas of the Niger Delta.[57][57]

The tripartite structure of colonial rule was thus inheritedby the new government at independence in 1960, reflecting and reinforcing thepolitical dominance of Nigeria's three major ethnic groups. Although theWillink Commission had rejected the option, minority groups remained convincedthat the creation of new states in which they would be majorities would improvetheir political and economic status. These demands became impossible to resistby those playing ethnic politics at federal level. As early as 1963 a newconstitution was adopted and the Western Region was divided into two, with thecreation of the Mid-West Region, giving autonomous status to the twoadministrative districts where Yorubas were not in a majority.

The first military coup of January 1966, in which northernPrime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was killed and which broughtMaj.-Gen. Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo, to power saw a brief and disastrousattempt to create a unified state, with the abolition of the federal system.The immediate reaction from the north, threatened by the southern dominancethat would result from centralized government on a unified basis, resulted in aJuly counter-coup staged by junior northern army officers, which brought Lt.-Col.(later Gen.) Yakubu Gowon to power at federal level. In May 1967, Gowonannounced that the four regions would be abolished and replaced by a newfederal system based on twelve states, which sought to address the concerns ofminority groups and thus increase their support for the federation, while atthe same time breaking down the powers of the regions. The Igbos' loss ofcentral political power was thus exacerbated by the creation in the Niger Deltaof Rivers State, which cut off the Igbo heartland from direct access to the seaand gave control of Port Harcourt, an important port at the beginning of itsoil boom where there were substantial Igbo commercial interests, to a new stategovernment. Shortly after the announcement of the new state system, in May1967, the secession of Biafra was declared by the military governor of theformer Eastern Region, Lt.-Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu. The civil war of 1967 to 1970,lost by the secessionists, increased the strength of federal government and thecentralization of power.

The creation of the twelve state system, which came intoeffect in April 1968, began an (as yet) endless process of alteration to thesystem of revenue allocation in the federation between central and stategovernments and among the states. Increasingly, states contributed theirrevenues to a Distributable Pool Account (DPA) at federal level, shared out onthe basis of population, need and other criteria, while the "derivationprinciple," by which revenues were spent in the geographical area from whichthey were derived, was downgraded. Federal expenditure came to dominate stateexpenditure: whereas during the First Republic federal and regional expenditurewere about equal, by 1975/76 the federal share of expenditure was approximately70 percent and the states came increasingly to depend on transfers from thecenter for their revenue.[58][58]During this same period, revenues from the oil industry, derived largely fromthe south eastern states, surged: many of the adjustments to revenue allocationwere attempts to counteract the unbalanced situation the oil wealth created.

In 1967, when the new states were created, mining rents androyalties were split 15 percent to the federal government, 35 percent to theDPA, and 50 percent on a derivation basis. Obvious imbalances between statesled to the review of the system, and in 1970 (backdated to 1969) the shares ofmining rents and royalties became 5 percent to the federal government, 50percent to the DPA, and 45 percent to the state of derivation. From 1971, the federalgovernment introduced a distinction between onshore and offshore rents androyalties, taking 100 percent of offshore revenue itself. In 1975, with thearrival of massively increased oil revenues following the OPEC price rise of1973, the share of onshore revenue paid to the state of origin was reduced to20 percent, while the federal government was to pay its entire share of on andoffshore revenue into the DPA. In 1979, the derivation principle was droppedaltogether in favor of a Special Account for mineral producing areas.[59][59]

The influx of cash placed strong pressures on the governmentto increase public expenditure in line with increased revenue: total federalexpenditure increased by a massive 100 percent in 1974, and doubled again thenext year.[60][60]In contrast to expenditure from taxation receipts, this bonanza from "rental"income brought no political pressures for accountability in the use of publicfunds; rather, it brought greater demands for money to be spent on patronagewithout thought as to its best allocation. Following a pattern common to manystates dependent on extractive industries for their revenue, the non-oil sectorof the economy in Nigeria, including agriculture, was neglected and steadilydeclined: Nigeria shifted from being an exporter of agricultural products tobeing a major importer of food. States became increasingly dependent on federalallocations, financial discipline and accounting deteriorated rapidly, andlevels of imports and expenditure reached unsustainable levels. In the contextof the weak political institutions of a newly independent and deeply dividedstate, there was little chance that any economic control could be exercised.[61][61]Politics instead revolved around the "distributive" concerns generated byexpenditure of the oil wealth.

In July 1975, Gowon was overthrown by a fresh and bloodlesscoup, which installed the six-month administration of Gen. Murtala Mohammed,before he was killed in an abortive coup attempt and succeeded by his deputy,Lt.-Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. In February 1976, the Murtala Mohammed governmentincreased the number of states to nineteen, adding four in the north, two inthe south west, and one in the south east. In 1979, the Obasanjo regime handedover power to the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, following alengthy process of constitutional debate, first in a constitution draftingcommittee established in 1977 and subsequently in a constituent assembly whichtook over the process in 1978. The 1979 constitution provided for an executivepresident, on the U.S. model (by comparison with the parliamentary system ofthe First Republic), and introduced, for the first time in an explicit way, theconcept of the "federal character" of the government, by which was meant therequirement that "there shall be no predominance of persons from a few Statesor from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in [the federal] government orin any of its agencies."[62][62]The president was required to appoint at least one minister from each state,and this effectively ethnically-based principle of office-sharing wasduplicated at other levels of government.

The period of civilian rule saw a loss of power from thefederal government to the states. In particular, states demanded and eventuallyreceived a greater share in allocation of revenues. The formula in operation in1979, giving the federal government 76 percent of shared revenues, the states21 percent, and elected local governments (a new uniform tier of government) 3percent, was rejected. After much political debate and conflict, a new formulafinally came into effect in 1982, giving the federal government 55 percent,states 30.5 percent, local governments 10 percent, and-in a concession to thedemands of the oil rich states since the derivation principle had beenabolished in 1979-4.5 percent to be split three ways for the benefit of the oilproducing communities (1 percent to respond to the ecological problems causedby oil production, 2 percent to go into the accounts of the mineral-producingstates on a derivation principle, and 1.5 percent directly for the developmentof mineral-producing areas).[63][63]All revenue from offshore production went to the federal government. The debatearound revenue allocation from the center itself generated campaigns for thecreation of new states (and new local government areas), as local politicianssought to benefit from the patronage that resulted from distributing revenue atstate level.

At the same time, financial controls on government spendingdeclined yet further. The government took no steps to guard against futurerevenue falls by investing abroad or creating an oil stabilization fund.Currency appreciation and domestic inflation made local industriesuncompetitive internationally and boosted imports, leading to balance ofpayments difficulties during oil-induced recessions in 1978-79 and from 1981until the early 1990s. Expenditure rapidly outpaced income, and, with oil priceslumps in the early 1980s, external debt more than doubled from 1980 to 1985.The oil price fell from around U.S.$32 per barrel in 1981 to approximatelyU.S.$13 per barrel in 1986, and Nigeria's gross national product (GNP) fellfrom a high of U.S.$99,539 million in 1980 to a low of U.S.$24,341 million in1987. In the same year, the ratio of debt to GNP reached 112.8 percent.[64][64]

This boom and bust cycle contributed to politicalinstability: in January 1984, military officers again put an end to civilianrule, and installed a fresh military regime under Maj.-Gen. Mohammadu Buhari,which immediately launched a "war against indiscipline," cracking down ondissent, and, supposedly, corruption, with a barrage of decrees. Buhari in turnwas overthrown by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in August 1985, who early on promiseda return to civilian rule. As the transition program was repeatedly extended,and with it the competition for future revenue share and agitation for morestates, Babangida raised the number of states by two, to twenty-one, in 1989and by another nine, to thirty, in 1991. Local governments were also strengthened,and their share of revenue allocation increased from 10 to 15 and then 20percent, with payments to be made directly from the federal government, and notvia states.

In 1992, in the context of Babangida's transition program,the government established the Oil Mineral Producing Areas DevelopmentCommission (OMPADEC) "to address the difficulties and sufferings of inhabitantsof the Oil Producing Areas of Nigeria," and the share of federal revenueallocated specifically to oil and mineral producing communities was doubledfrom 1.5 to 3 percent.[65][65]In February 1996, the senior management of OMPADEC was fired, amid allegationsof corruption and mismanagement, and a sole administrator appointed. Thecommission was still allocated _2.042 billion (U.S.$22.68 million) in 1996(according to General Abacha's 1997 budget speech), but at the time of Abacha'sdeath in June 1998 was moribund and threatened with closure.[66][66]In addition, the government inaugurated the board of a new Petroleum SpecialTrust Fund (PSTF) in March 1995, established by decree the previous November,with a mandate to use revenue from increases in the prices of petroleumproducts to "identify key projects in all parts of the federation so as tobring about equitable development to all our communities."[67][67]The PSTF, which did not begin full-scale operations until 1997, was seen bymembers of the southern minorities as an effort to undermine OMPADEC'sallocation of oil wealth to the oil producing communities.

In June 1993, the presidential elections which were to bethe culmination of the transition program were annulled, when it became clearthat Moshood. K.O. Abiola, a Yoruba from the southwest, was going to win. Aninterim government was put in place, itself overthrown by yet another coup in November1993, which installed General Sani Abacha in power. Babangida's transitionprogram was aborted, to be virtually duplicated by a fresh program, announcedin October 1995, to terminate on October 1, 1998.[68][68]The Abacha administration engaged in yet another round of inconclusive-becauseundemocratic and military-controlled-debates over the structure of thefederation. In May 1994, elections were held for a national constitutionalconference, although of 369 members, ninety-six were nominated by the head ofstate, and other candidates were carefully screened. The conference produced areport and draft constitution, which was presented to General Abacha in June1995. The draft constitution was not published before the death of Abacha inJune 1998, though elements of the constitutional provisions had become known;for example, that there should be a rotational presidency, so that each regionof the country would be represented in turn, and that other offices shouldsimilarly represent the "federal character" of Nigeria.

The Abacha government's transition program also brought amultiplication of administrative units. A State Creation and Local GovernmentBoundary Adjustment Committee considered requests from those groups as yetunrecognized within the federal system for their own government structures, andmade recommendations to the federal government. In October 1996, General Abachaincreased the number of states yet again, to thirty-six, at the same timeincreasing the number of local government areas by 183 to 776 (including thosein Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory).

In July 1998, following the death of Abacha, the new head ofstate Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar announced that the Abacha transition programwould be scrapped, and a new program instituted, under more open conditions, toterminate in May 1999; however, the constitution presented to Abacha in 1995would be retained (despite the defects in the drafting process). Abubakarpromised to "publish and widely circulate the draft constitution presented by theNational Constitutional Conference prior to consideration and approval by theProvisional Ruling Council," and the 1995 draft constitution was finallypublished in September 1998.[69][69]A committee was appointed to receive public comments and make recommendationsas to the draft constitution and report back by December 31. In its report, thecommittee recommended instead the adoption of the 1979 constitution, with someamendments, including adopting the provisions of the 1995 draft constitutionfor an increase in the revenue allocation to the oil producing regions.

The 1995 draft constitution reflects the fact that theconstitutional conference could not reach a consensus on the question of futurerevenue allocation, although it recognized the need for greater revenue to goto the oil producing areas. It provides that:

The President, upon the receipt of the advice from theNational Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, shall tablebefore the National Assembly proposals for Revenue Allocation from theFederation Account. In determining the formula, the National Assembly shalltake into account allocation principles especially those of Population,Equality of States, Internal Revenue Generation, Land Mass, Terrain, as well asPopulation Density, provided that the principle of derivation shall beconstantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 13 percentof the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any naturalresources, so however, that the figure of the allocation for derivation shallbe deemed to include any amount that may be set aside for funding any specialauthority or agency for the development of the State or States of derivation.[70][70]

Although the allocation of 13 percent of oil revenue to thestates from which it is derived would represent a marked return to earlierpatterns of revenue allocation, it is not clear that the allocation woulddirectly benefit the communities in which the oil is produced, rather than thestate governments in the oil producing areas, where the money would likely beused for patronage rather than development. For the time being, however, therevenue allocation to the oil producing communities remains at 3 percent.

General Abubakar also promised that the PSTF would apply thebulk of its resources to the roads, education and water supply sectors, andthat "a fully reconstituted OMPADEC will be provided with the wherewithal asprovided in the Revenue Allocation Formula to enable it to discharge itsobligations to the oil producing areas."[71][71]A panel to probe the financial transactions of OMPADEC overthe past few yearswas established, including the role of sole administrator, Eric Opiah, andother officers.[72][72]General Abubakar also announced that NNPC would enjoy greater independence andauthority; after dismissing General Abacha's cabinet, he failed to appoint anew minister of petroleum, instead appointing only a special adviser within thepresident's office, Aret Adams, a former head of NNPC. In November 1998, a newboard for OMPADEC was established, headed by former chief of naval staff AirVice Marshall Dan Princeton Omotsola.[73][73]General Abubakar visited the delta region November 18 to 20, 1998, and promisedincreased investment to improve the standard of living of the oil producing communities.[74][74]

The Nigerian economy currently faces further shocks as aresult of the falling price of oil on the international market, reducing thepot that can be distributed among those who demand a share. The 1998 budget wasbased on an estimated average oil price of U.S.$17 per barrel; in February1998, it had fallen to U.S.$13 per barrel, and remained at depressed levels forthe following months, dipping below U.S.$10 per barrel at the end of the year.In his independence day speech on October 1, 1998, General Abubakar estimatedthe impact of the fall in the oil price to be a decrease of 20 to 25 percent inforeign exchange earnings;[75][75]in his January 1, 1999 budget speech, Abubakar announced that actual receiptsfrom crude oil in 1998 had amounted to only 62 percent of budgeted revenue.[76][76]Moreover, the government has few reserves, having failed to use the windfalladditional profits brought by the rise in oil prices during the 1990-91 Gulfcrisis wisely.[77][77]Even during the period when oil export revenues were increasing, gross domesticproduct per capita decreased;[78][78]per capita GNP declined from around U.S.$1,100 per year in 1980 to an estimatedU.S.$260 in 1995.[79][79]External debt was estimated by the Nigerian government to stand at U.S.$27.08billion at the end of 1997, down from U.S.$32.58 billion at the end of 1995,though the official statistics are greeted with some skepticism in financialcircles.[80][80]According to one analyst of the Nigerian economy: "It is clear that theresource mismanagement in Nigeria over the last thirty years has left theeconomy in dire financial straits and has put at risk the very industry onwhich it depends."[81][81]

The revenue allocation formulae do not tell the whole storyof the distribution of the oil money. The Nigerian political economy has cometo depend on a spectacular system of corruption, involving systematic kickbacksfor the award of contracts, special bank accounts in the control of thepresidency, allocation of oil or refined products to the politically loyal tosell for personal profit, and sweeteners for a whole range of political favors.In effect across all sectors of the economy, this system of corruption isparticularly entrenched in the oil sector, its natural home. It is thiscorruption that ensures that the oil money is sent to private bank accounts inZurich or the Cayman Islands rather than spent on primary health care andeducation in Nigeria.[82][82]Technical requirements of legislation theoretically regulating the oil industryare often overlooked in the case of those who toe the right political line: the"presidential allocation" was said to amount to up to 200,000 bpd, one tenth ofNigeria's production, under General Abacha, and to have been distributed forpolitical support, including to politicians participating in Abacha'stransition program. Decisions relating to oil contracts were hyper-centralizedin the president's office to ensure that the benefits involved went only topolitical supporters.

The oil trading companies-Swiss-based Addax and Glencore,and London-based Arcadia had the largest share of the Nigerian trade underGeneral Abacha's government-which purchase Nigerian oil for onward sale on thespot or term markets, have close links with individual political figures in themilitary or civilian hierarchy. Getting a share of the trade is dependent onpolitical patronage, and substantial commissions are paid for that patronage.The death of Abacha, the consequent falling from favor of the Lebanese-bornChagoury brothers (who had influenced decisions as to the allocation ofpolitical benefits in relation to the oil industry during his period as head ofstate), the dismissal of oil minister Daniel Etete, and the reforms announcedby Abubakar temporarily damaged the positions of some of the traders,especially Glencore. However, their fortunes appear to be recovering asprevious ways of doing business, including generous commissions, havereasserted themselves.[83][83]

Nigeria's oil resources have also been used to buy favor inthe region. In September 1997, General Abacha awarded six crude term contractsto member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),allowing them to sell the oil or use it, as they pleased, bringing to nine thenumber of neighboring governments benefitting from Nigerian largesse.[84][84]These contracts were terminated in September 1998 by the government of GeneralAbubakar.[85][85]

Millions of dollars appropriated by General Abacha and hisclose associates are currently being recovered by the government of GeneralAbubakar, and many contracts awarded by Abacha have been canceled. Such effortsare traditional on change of regime, but have yet to lead to cleaner governmentin the long term: a commission of inquiry headed by economist Pius Okigbo,appointed by General Abacha himself shortly after taking power in 1993,estimated that U.S.$12.2 billion in oil earnings had disappeared between 1990and 1994, but nobody was brought to account for this theft.[86][86]Nigeria's politics revolve about the distribution of the oil money, whetherofficially (in the form of debates over revenue allocation) or unofficially (asmilitary and civilian politicians seek favor with those in a position to rewardthem with opportunities to "chop" money from contracts), and as long as the oilflows it will be difficult to overcome this legacy.


The Niger Delta is one of the world's largest wetlands, andthe largest in Africa: it encompasses over 20,000 square kilometers. It is avast floodplain built up by the accumulation of centuries of silt washed downthe Niger and Benue Rivers, composed of four main ecological zones-coastalbarrier islands, mangroves, fresh water swamp forests, and lowlandrainforests-whose boundaries vary according to the patterns of seasonalflooding. The mangrove forest of Nigeria is the third largest in the world andthe largest in Africa; over 60 percent of this mangrove, or 6,000 squarekilometers, is found in the Niger Delta. The freshwater swamp forests of thedelta reach 11,700 square kilometers and are the most extensive in west and centralAfrica.[87][87]The Niger Delta region has the high biodiversity characteristic of extensiveswamp and forest areas, with many unique species of plants and animals.

The high rainfall in southern Nigeria in the rainy seasonleads to regular inundation of the low, poorly drained terrain of the NigerDelta, and an ecosystem characterized by the ebb and flow of water. Over thelast few decades, however, the building of dams along the Niger and BenueRivers and their tributaries has significantly reduced sedimentation andseasonal flooding in the delta. Coupled with riverbank and coastal erosion, itis estimated that, if it continued at a constant rate, the result of diminishedsiltation in the delta would be the loss of about 40 percent of the inhabitedland in the delta within thirty years.[88][88]At the same time, since the construction of the dams, large numbers of peoplehave settled in areas previously subject to extensive flooding; yet theprogressive silting of the dams themselves, due to lack of maintenance, hasmeant that floods have begun to return to pre-dam levels, periodicallyinundating newly inhabited and cultivated areas.

Nigeria's mangrove forest is still relatively intact: anestimated 5 to 10 percent has been lost as a result of settlement or oil activities.[89][89]Freshwater swamp forests and forests on the barrier islands at the seaward edgeof the delta are threatened by commercial logging, agriculture and settlements,but are still extensive. The lowland rainforest, on the other hand, hasvirtually gone: the zone it previously occupied covers about 7,400 squarekilometers of the Niger Delta, but most of this has been cleared foragriculture.[90][90]

The Framework of Nigerian Law on Oil and the Environment

The framework for oil operations in Nigeria is set by thePetroleum Act (originally Decree No.51 of 1969). Other relevant legislationincludes the Oil in Navigable Waters Act (Decree No.34 of 1968), the OilPipelines Act (Decree No.31 of 1956), the Associated Gas (Reinjection) Act of1979, and the Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations of 1969, madeunder the Petroleum Act. From 1988, the Federal Environmental Protection AgencyAct (Decree No.58 of 1988) vested the authority to issue standards for water,air, and land quality in a Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), andregulations made by FEPA under the decree govern environmental standards in theoil and other industries. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has alsoissued a set of Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the PetroleumIndustry in Nigeria (1991), which overlap with and in some cases differ fromthose issued by FEPA. For the most part, the specific standards set arecomparable to those in force in Europe or the U.S.

Nigerian law provides that "all minerals, mineral oils andnatural gas" are the property of the federal government.[91][91]Accordingly, the Petroleum Act requires a license to be obtained from theMinistry of Petroleum Resources before any oil operation-prospecting,exploration, drilling, production, storage, refining, or transportation-iscommenced. Only a Nigerian citizen or a company incorporated in Nigeria mayapply for such a license. The minister of petroleum resources has generalsupervisory powers over oil company activities, and may revoke a license undercertain conditions, including if the operator fails to comply with "good oilfield practice."[92][92]Good oil field practice is not defined in the decree, but the Mineral Oils(Safety) Regulations of 1963, promulgated under the Mineral Oils Act (thepredecessor to Petroleum Act), state that good oil field practice "shall beconsidered to be adequately covered by the appropriate current Institute ofPetroleum Safety Codes, the American Petroleum Institute Codes, or the AmericanSociety of Mechanical Engineers Codes," thus effectively binding oil companiesto respect international standards in their operations in Nigeria.[93][93]Licensees are responsible for all the actions of independent contractorscarrying out work on their behalf.[94][94]

Oil companies are obliged to "adopt all practicableprecautions including the provision of up-to-date equipment" to preventpollution, and must take "prompt steps to control and, if possible, end it," ifpollution does occur.[95][95]They must maintain all installations in good repair and condition in order toprevent "the escape or avoidable waste of petroleum" and to cause "as littledamage as possible to the surface of the relevant area and to the trees, crops,buildings, structures and other properties thereon."[96][96]Oil companies are also required to comply with all local planning laws; theymay not enter on any area held to be sacred or destroy any thing which is anobject of veneration; and they must allow local inhabitants to have access, attheir own risk, to roads constructed in their operating areas.[97][97]Specific rules relating to compensation in the event of infringement of theseand other requirements are described below.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Act (Decree No. 86 of1992) requires an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to be carried out"where the extent, nature or location of a proposed project or activity is suchthat it is likely to significantly affect the environment."[98][98]The public and private sector are enjoined to give "prior consideration" to theenvironmental effects of any activity before it is embarked upon. An EIA iscompulsory in certain cases, including oil and gas fields development andconstruction of oil refineries, some pipelines, and processing and storagefacilities. The carrying out of EIAs is policed by the Federal EnvironmentalProtection Agency, and by state environmental protection agencies.

As with the rest of the regulatory framework governingprotection of the environment in Nigeria, there is in practice littleenforcement of the requirements to carry out EIAs, either by FEPA or by theDPR's regulatory arm, the Petroleum Inspectorate, and virtually no qualitycontrol over the assessments carried out. As one study concluded: "Most stateand local government institutions involved in environmental resource managementlack funding, trained staff, technical expertise, adequate information,analytical capability and other pre-requisites for implementing comprehensivepolicies and programmes. In the case of the oil industry, overlapping mandatesand jurisdiction between FEPA and the DPR frequently contribute tocounterproductive competition."[99][99]

The Impact of Oil Operations on the Environment

The oil companies operating in Nigeria maintain that theiractivities are conducted to the highest environmental standards, and that theimpact of oil on the environment of the delta is minimal. Shell, for example,has stated that "Shell Nigeria believes that most of the environmental problemsare not the result of oil operations."[100][100]At the other extreme, Ken Saro-Wiwa, spokesperson for the Movement of theSurvival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) until he was hanged in November 1995,maintained that the environment in Ogoni has been "completely devastated bythree decades of reckless oil exploitation or ecological warfare by Shell.... Anecological war is highly lethal, the more so as it is unconventional. It isomnicidal in effect. Human life, flora, fauna, the air, fall at its feet, andfinally, the land itself dies."[101][101]

Environmental groups accuse the oil companies of operatingdouble standards; of allowing practices in Nigeria that would never bepermitted in North America or Europe. The companies deny this, although Shell,for example, has defended the idea of national rather than internationalenvironmental standards. At the annual general meeting for the Shell group inLondon in May 1996, group chairman John Jennings stated that "the charge of‘double standards' is mistaken, because it is based on the notion that there isa single, ‘absolute environmental standard.'... As long as we continue toimprove, varying standards are inevitable." In the same vein, Group ManagingDirector CAJ Herkströter implied at the parallel annual meeting held in theNetherlands, that higher environmental standards could harm local economies:"Should we apply the higher-cost western standards, thus making the operationuncompetitive and depriving the local work force of jobs and the chance ofdevelopment? Or should we adopt the prevailing legal standards at the site,while having clear plans to improve towards ‘best practice' within a reasonabletimeframe?"[102][102]

Shell admits, however, that its facilities in the delta arein need of upgrading: "Most of the facilities were constructed between the1960s and early 1980s to the then prevailing standards. SPDC would not buildthem that way today."[103][103]Under pressure from international and national environmental groups, Shell hasstated that it will finally bring its Nigerian operations (with the exceptionof gas flaring, for which see below) into line with Nigerian law-which in mostrespects refers to international standards-by the end of 1999.[104][104]

Unfortunately, the oil industry's own evaluations ofenvironmental damage, required for the production of EIAs, which mightotherwise provide a useful basis for assessing environmental damage, areinadequate. According to a Dutch biologist formerly employed by SPDC for twoyears as head of environmental studies, for example: "There was/is a majorproblem with most of the environmental studies carried out in the Niger Delta,as they are carried out by Nigerian Universities or private consultancies,which have a generally low scientific level and little technical/industrialexpertise."[105][105]A review of two of SPDC's EIAs for pipeline projects conducted for the BodyShop International in 1994 concluded that, while "SPDC's consultants have triedto be thorough," the assessments were "lengthy, generally poorly constructed,and therefore it is difficult to envisage how they could either assist theNigerian planning authorities in determining authorisation of the development,or enable SPDC employees in Nigeria to better manage their (potential)environmental impacts." Furthermore, "there is little evidence that SPDC havebeen involved in the EIA process, that they acknowledge the potential impactsof their pipeline operations and that they have taken ownership of themitigation measures necessary to minimise potential impacts."[106][106]The environmental impact assessment for the proposed liquefied natural gasproject, carried out in 1995 on behalf of Nigeria LNG Ltd by SGS EnvironmentLtd, was also reviewed on behalf of Body Shop International. The review of thesubstantial document concluded that, although some sections of the report wereof high quality, there were serious defects. Overall, "the EnvironmentalStatements fall well short of what would be required in any developed countryand do not allow the reader to make an informed judgement about the relativeenvironmental benefits and costs of the scheme. It is normal practice toconsider alternatives in an environmental assessment, but this has not beendone. Significant issues have been overlooked or deferred to a later date."[107][107]

As a result of deficiencies in such studies and the paucityof independent academic research, there is little publicly available hardinformation on the state of the environment in the delta or the impact that oilproduction has had. Problems identified include flooding and coastal erosion,sedimentation and siltation, degradation and depletion of water and coastalresources, land degradation, oil pollution, air pollution, land subsidence,biodiversity depletion, noise and light pollution, health problems, and lowagricultural production, as well as socio-economic problems, lack of communityparticipation, and weak or non-existent laws and regulations.[108][108]Astonishingly, despite decades of oil exploration and production, neither theoil companies nor the Nigerian government have funded the scientific researchthat would allow an objective assessment of the damage caused by oil explorationand production.

Oil Spills and Hydrocarbon Pollution

According to the official estimates of the Nigerian NationalPetroleum Corporation (NNPC), based on the quantities reported by the operatingcompanies, approximately 2,300 cubic meters of oil are spilled in 300 separateincidents annually. It can be safely assumed that, due to under-reporting, thereal figure is substantially higher: conservative estimates place it at up toten times higher.[109][109]Statistics from the Department of Petroleum Resources indicate that between1976 and 1996 a total of 4,835 incidents resulted in the spillage of at least2,446,322 barrels (102.7 million U.S. gallons), of which an estimated 1,896,930barrels (79.7 million U.S. gallons; 77 percent) were lost to the environment.[110][110]Another calculation, based on oil industry sources, estimates that more than1.07 million barrels (45 million U.S. gallons) of oil were spilled in Nigeriafrom 1960 to 1997.[111][111]Nigeria's largest spill was an offshore well blowout in January 1980, when atleast 200,000 barrels of oil (8.4 million U.S. gallons), according to oilindustry sources, spewed into the Atlantic Ocean from a Texaco facility anddestroyed 340 hectares of mangroves.[112][112]DPR estimates were that more than 400,000 barrels (16.8 million U.S. gallons)were spilled in this incident.[113][113]Mangrove forest is particularly vulnerable to oil spills, because the soilsoaks up the oil like a sponge and re-releases it every rainy season.

Two serious spills took place in early 1998. On January 12,1998, a major spill of more than 40,000 barrels of crude oil (1.7 million U.S.gallons) leaked from the pipeline linking Mobil's Idoho platform with its QuaIboe onshore terminal in Akwa Ibom State. Mobil estimated that more than 90percent of the oil had dispersed or evaporated naturally, though the spilltraveled "hundreds of kilometers farther than expected," and some 500 barrels(21,000 U.S. gallons) washed ashore.[114][114]By the end of February 1998, about 14,000 claims for compensation had beensubmitted from individuals or groups, totaling an estimated U.S.$100 million.About twenty communities, with a total population of about one million, wereconsidered to be the worst hit, especially at the mouth of the PenningtonRiver.[115][115]Clean Nigeria Associates, an oil industry-funded spill-response cooperative,was mobilized to assist in containing the spill and dealing with its effects.However, shoreline cleanup had still not begun by January 28, because "staffhad to train crew leaders and deliver appropriate gear to the sites," and aslate as March some sites were still visibly contaminated.[116][116]Mobil had not responded to requests from Human Rights Watch for furtherinformation about this spill at the time of going to press. On March 27, 1998,a further spill of 20,000 barrels (840,000 U.S. gallons) took place fromShell's Jones Creek flow station, Delta State, in the brackish water of themangrove forest, killing large numbers of fish. Shell identified the cause ofthe spill as "pipeline failure" and closed in 110,000 bpd of oil from eightflowstations. According to Shell, relief materials, including food and water,were provided to the communities affected at the time, and clean-up of thespill has been completed. As of September 1998, production at Jones Creekremained closed, pending the outcome of a technical investigation into thecause of the spill.[117][117]

As a result of the small size of the oilfields in the NigerDelta, there is an extensive network of pipelines between the fields, as wellas numerous small networks of flowlines-the narrow diameter pipes that carryoil from wellheads to flowstations-allowing many opportunities for leaks. Inonshore areas, most pipelines and flowlines are laid above ground. Manypipelines and flowlines are old and subject to corrosion: fifteen years is theestimated safe lifespan of a pipeline, but in numerous places in the deltapipelines aged twenty or twenty-five years can be found. SPDC stated that itcompleted a program for the replacement of older pipelines in swamp areasduring 1996, and claimed that as a result the volume of spills due to corrosionwas reduced by 36 percent compared to 1995. The company also stated that itplanned to renew and bury 2,188 kilometers of lines by the end of 1998, andthat all would by then be buried.[118][118]Burial still requires clearing of the vegetation above the line, and though itreduces the chances of pollution through sabotage, it also makes leak detectionmore difficult.

DPR regulations require the body responsible for a spill toclean the site and restore it to its original state so far as possible. Soil ata spill site on land must contain no more than thirty parts per million (ppm)of oil after six months. SPDC official policy is that "All hydrocarbon andchemical spills in the vicinity of the company's operations shall be cleaned upin a timely and efficient manner."[119][119]According to Shell, "All spills are investigated." The company starts with "animmediate visit [to the] site to locate the source of the leakage and to stopit. This is followed with the initiation of clean-up actions."[120][120]However, in some cases it is clear that land affected by spills is not properlyor promptly rehabilitated. At Kolo Creek flow station, a spill that Shellalleged was caused by sabotage occurred in July 1997, and was cleaned by puttingcontaminated soil into pits; one year later, during flood season, the communitybelieved that a new spill had taken place when this oil was released back intothe water.[121][121]In Aleibiri, Bayelsa State, community members alleged in August 1997 that a spilldating from March 1997 had not yet been cleaned up. SPDC, which stated that thespill was caused by sabotage (a claim contested by local residents), said thatthe delay had been "because the community prevented access to the site todetermine the cause of the spill and to clamp the hole," demanding "payments toappease their deities, relief materials and immediate cash compensation," while"ethnic clashes between Ijaws and Itsekiris in April, May and June causedfurther delay," because, during the Warri crisis, "SPDC restricted operationsin the Western Division to essential activities to minimize movements on thewater and the risk of hijack and further hostage-taking."[122][122]Local activists contest this explanation, saying that the violence associatedwith the Warri crisis (see below) could not have prevented Shell gaining accessto Aleibiri, many tens of kilometers away from the area of conflict. Shellstates that the pipeline was finally clamped in July 1997, and that clean-upoperations were to begin in August but were delayed until November because twobarges and a crew boat were seized. In March 1998, local environmentalactivists reported that in the process of clearing the spill several hectaresof forest had been set alight by a contractor who had collected contaminatedmaterial into heaps for burning. This method of clearing spills is not regardedas satisfactory by international standards, and in this case additionallyappears to have been carried out in a negligent fashion, allowing a seriousfire to occur. SPDC confirmed to an oil industry publication that a Shellcontractor had set the blaze on March 25, damaging ten hectares, and that theprocedures used were not in compliance with their requirements.[123][123]Substantial losses were suffered as a result by several members of thecommunity.[124][124]

The effect on the environment of the contaminated "formationwater" (also known as "produced water") separated from the hydrocarbon fluidswith which it is mixed underground and deliberately discharged from flowstations and terminals is largely unevaluated. Formation water is in some casestreated to remove residual oil, but in other cases released directly into theenvironment. While the water discharged generally contains low concentrationsof oil, its large volume, together with occasional oil spillages, could wellhave long term effects, depending partly on the ecological setting in which thedischarge is made. In offshore locations or in areas with rapid drainageincreased dilution reduces the polluting effects of the water; on land and inthe swamp, however, the cumulative effect "can be devastating at somelocations."[125][125]A 1993 Shell environmental impact study near the Bonny terminal found highhydrocarbon content in the nearby creek indicating "poor or no treatment ofeffluent."[126][126]At Abiteye, on the Escravos River in Delta State, Chevron has for several yearsreportedly pumped hot untreated formation water directly into mangrove creeks,not even piping it into the main tidal channel where it would be diluted andcause less damage.[127][127]Another problem of unknown impact is the disposal of waste from oil facilities:according to a former employee, SPDC, for example, had no adequate facilitiesfor treatment of oily or chemical waste (including polluted soil and debris) inits eastern division in 1994.[128][128]Effluents from the refineries at Port Harcourt and Warri are usuallydischarged, after treatment, into adjoining creeks and rivers. Nearbycommunities have complained at the effects of these effluents on fish stocks.[129][129]

The DPR sets a limit of 20 ppm hydrocarbon contamination foreffluent discharged to nearshore waters and 10 ppm for inland waters; FEPA'slimit is 10 ppm for coastal (nearshore) waters. In its 1996 annual report on"People and the Environment," SPDC indicated that the water discharged at itsterminals (at Forcados, Bonny, and Ughelli) did not meet the FEPA limits,although Bonny and Forcados were within the DPR limits.[130][130]In an internal document from 1993, SPDC claimed to meet the DPR limit of 20 ppmoil and grease in its effluent at the Bonny terminal, stating that theconcentration routinely discharged was 7 ppm. However, during the same period,a Shell employee noted the presence of an oily sheen on the water immediatelyafter discharge, suggesting a concentration of at least 50 ppm.[131][131]

Nigerian crude oil is very light (low density), with a rapidevaporation loss which could be up to 50 percent within forty-eight hours.[132][132]The oil companies therefore maintain that the effects of oil spills are largelytemporary and localized. Shell states that "Complete rehabilitation afterclean-up takes 12-18 months."[133][133]A study of a major 1970 spill at Ebubu, in Ogoni, on the other hand, carriedout nineteen years after it had been set ablaze, leaving a five-meter thickcrust, found that vegetation was recovering, but that vegetation in areasdownstream of the spill was still being degraded due to a slow seepage of crudeoil from the spill site.[134][134]This is an exceptional case, but studies have shown that the chronic occurrenceof minor spills can have "greater detrimental effects on the environment thanthe more visible, large-scale spillages associated with tanker accidents andblowouts."[135][135]Even when oil-in-water values have dropped below detectable limits,oil-in-sediment values can remain high.[136][136]In the absence of serious independent scientific studies of the long termeffects of hydrocarbon pollution in the Niger Delta, the damage caused byindividual spills on the overall environment cannot be evaluated, though spillsin other parts of the world have been noted to cause long term effects.Moreover, the lighter compounds that evaporate quickly (such as toluene andbenzene) also have a relatively high solubility and can be toxic at very lowconcentrations.[137][137]

Whatever the long term impact on the environment, spills canbe devastating for those directly affected, especially in the dry land orfreshwater swamp areas, where the effects are concentrated in particularlocations. Oil leaks are usually from high pressure pipelines, and thereforespurt out over a wide area, destroying crops, artificial fishponds used forfish farming, "economic trees" (that is, economically valuable trees, includingthose growing "wild" but owned by particular families) and otherincome-generating assets. Even a small leak can thus wipe out a year's foodsupply for a family, with it wiping out income from products sold for cash. Theconsequences of such loss of livelihood can range from children missing schoolbecause their parents are unable to afford the fees, to virtual destitution.Even if the land recovers for the following year, the spill has consequencesover a much longer period for the families directly affected. Several farmersinterviewed by Human Rights Watch affected by spills appeared dazed andpractically unable to take in the consequences of a recent spill, or toestimate the costs, beyond a simple statement that they had no idea how theywould now manage. In tidal salt water areas, where fishing grounds tend to beopen, individual families are less likely to be totally wiped out, while spillswill in any event disperse more quickly. Nevertheless, big spills can stillhave a significant economic effect: following the Mobil spill of January 1998,savings by fishermen into microcredit schemes set up at a B.P./Statoildevelopment project at Akassa, on the Atlantic coast, dropped appreciably.[138][138]

Similarly, since in most areas of the delta drinking wateris drawn straight from streams and creeks, with no other option available tothe local people, a spill can cause severe problems for the populationdependent on the water source affected, even if it disperses rapidly and thewater soon returns to its previous condition. Crude oil contains thousands ofdifferent chemicals, many of them toxic and some known to be carcinogenic withno determined safe threshold for human exposure.[139][139]Following the major Texaco spill of 1980, it was reported that 180 people diedin one community as a result of the pollution.[140][140]On several occasions, people interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that spillsin their area had made people sick who drank the water, especially children.[141][141]In January 1998, Nigerian opposition radio reported that about one hundredvillagers from communities affected by a major Mobil spill of January 12 hadbeen hospitalized as a result of drinking contaminated water.[142][142]Litigation against oil companies for compensation in the event of spills hasalso claimed for deaths of children caused by drinking polluted water.[143][143]Often, local residents complain that fish taste of paraffin (kerosene),indicating hydrocarbon contamination.

In many villages near oil installations, even when there hasbeen no recent spill, an oily sheen can be seen on the water, which in freshwater areas is usually the same water that the people living there use fordrinking and washing. In April 1997, samples taken from water used for drinkingand washing by local villagers were analyzed in the U.S. A sample from Luawii,in Ogoni, where there had been no oil production for four years, had 18 ppm ofhydrocarbons in the water, 360 times the level allowed in drinking water in theEuropean Union (E.U.). A sample from Ukpeleide, Ikwerre, contained 34 ppm, 680times the E.U. standard.[144][144]Similarly, a geographer based at Uyo University in Akwa Ibom State, who hadstudied the effect of oil operations since 1985, described to Human RightsWatch how soils in communities near to the Qua Iboe area where Mobil has itstank farm had very high hydrocarbon content, while local fauna and flora,including periwinkles-a major food source for the local people-had died out.Follow up research had, however, proved impossible for lack of resources.[145][145]Other studies have found hydrocarbon contamination of oysters and adverseeffects on fisheries, but again further investigation is needed to ascertainthe prevalence of such effects.[146][146]

The overall effect of oil spills on the delta is effectivelyunknown: "Although the effects of oil on mangrove environments are well knownand a large number of studies appear to have been carried out in the NigerDelta, available information is not sufficient to assess the present conditionof the region with respect to oil spills."[147][147]One zoologist, before his death perhaps the foremost expert on the ecology ofthe Niger Delta, commented to Human Rights Watch that "the bottom line is thatthe oil companies have never tried to find out what the effect of oil spillsis; and those assessments that are done are useless and too late."[148][148]Therefore, although one study concluded that, "When assessing the impact of theoil industry on the environment of the delta, it appears that oil pollution, initself, is only of moderate priority when compared with the full spectrum ofenvironmental problems in the Niger Delta,"[149][149]this opinion, admittedly based on incomplete data, is challenged byenvironmentalists. The overall impact of oil spills is, in any event,irrelevant in assessing the impact of individual spills or the effect on acommunity of discharges from a particular flowstation. Moreover, as describedbelow, it is also the case that many of the other environmental problems of thedelta are due in whole or in part to the oil industry, and the distinctionbetween hydrocarbon pollution and the other effects of oil operations andoil-led development is largely meaningless for the local communities.

Infrastructure Development

In addition to the direct pollution caused by oilproduction, the oil industry has had a profound effect on the environment ofthe Niger Delta through the infrastructure constructed to support oilexploration and production, and the immigration from other parts of Nigeriathat has followed the economic opportunities provided by oil. Oil companieshave constructed roads or dredged canals to their well heads and flow stations,and in some cases have built roads specifically for communities (though oftencommunities are bypassed by roads to oil facilities). These thoroughfares andothers built by the Nigerian government with oil money and partly for thebenefit of the oil industry have improved transportation dramatically in dryland areas of the delta region, and so increased economic activity in theaffected communities, but at the same time roads have allowed cultivation andhunting in previously pristine forest and increased commercial loggingactivities. With the influx of comparatively rich, and almost all male, workersfrom the well-paid oil industry elite, has also come increased prostitution inpreviously isolated and stable communities.[150][150]

The lines cleared of vegetation for oil pipelines or seismicsurveys[151][151]also become informal roads, which, though not paved, allow foot access forhunters into previously inaccessible forest regions. Although seismic lines areonly needed temporarily and growth regenerates quickly in dry land andfreshwater areas, mangrove forests have a very slow regeneration rate. Seismiclines a few meters wide cut through mangrove decades ago are still visible fromthe air: SPDC estimated in 1993 that since it had started operations onshore,60,000 kilometers of seismic line had been cut, of which 39,000 kilometers werethrough mangrove; forthcoming three-dimensional surveys planned would cut afurther 31,380 kilometers, of which 17,400 were to be through mangrove.[152][152]According to Shell, "In densely populated or environmentally sensitive areas,where explosions are not practical, vibrator trucks are used" rather thandynamite, which is used in "remote areas."[153][153]However, Human Rights Watch visited several villages in Nigeria wheredynamiting had taken place very close to human habitations, in some casesreportedly causing cracks in the walls of houses nearby.[154][154]

Roads and canals built by the oil companies can also bedestructive in a more direct way than simply by promoting the mixed blessing ofhuman access. In a number of cases, roads have been built on causeways acrossseasonally flooded plains, whose ecology depends on the changing hydrologicalconditions. Unless proper culverts are built under the causeways, as is all toooften not the case, the drainage of the area is affected, causing permanentflooding on one side of the road and the drying out of the other. As a result,trees die, fishponds are destroyed, and seasonal fishing completely disrupted,often destroying a significant percentage of the income derived by localcommunities from the land or even the entire livelihood of some families. Atypical case is that of Gbaran oil field in Rivers State. In 1991, a causewayto carry a road to the well heads was built on behalf of SPDC by Willbros WestAfrica Inc, a contractor to the oil industry with headquarters in the U.S. thathas been involved in a number of incidents where protesters at the work theyhave been carrying out have been assaulted or killed by Nigerian securityforces. According to local people, the causeway initially had no passages forwater to pass underneath, blocking the drainage channel. Although, followingprotests from community members and environmental groups, culverts wereeventually constructed, they were poorly designed, and the drainage of the areais still disturbed. Trees and other vegetation over a wide area have died fromwaterlogging, and seasonal fishing grounds have been destroyed, causingsubstantial economic damage to those whose land was affected.[155][155]At the time the culverts were cut, a young girl drowned when her canoe wascapsized by the turbulence caused by the draining of the lake that haddeveloped.[156][156]Farmers in Obite, Rivers State, in the Obagi oil field operated by Elf, alsocomplained of flooding to Human Rights Watch.[157][157]

Canals can also disrupt delicate hydrological systems,especially when they are constructed in the border zone between fresh water andbrackish water in the riverine areas. Such disruption can destroylong-established fishing grounds. A canal dug by Chevron near the remotevillage of Awoye, Ilaje/Ese-Odo local government area, Ondo State, hasreportedly caused or accelerated erosion by the sea and has also destroyed thelocal hydrological system by allowing salt water into previous fresh waterareas, creating a saltwater marsh in place of much higher biodiversityfreshwater swamp. As a consequence, traditional fishing grounds and sources ofdrinking water have been wiped out: the damage is described by one expert onthe Niger Delta environment as "one of the most extreme cases of habitat destruction"in the delta.[158][158]

Dredging destroys the ecology of the dredged area and thearea where the spoils are dumped. Although dredged material is in principledumped on land, some of it will inevitably slip back into the water, increasingturbidity, reducing sunlight penetration and thus plant life, and possiblydriving away fish. Dredged materials in mangrove areas will turn acidic onceexposed to oxygen, and silt dredged as a result of canalization and dumped oncultivated levees can decrease farm yields. Similarly, drilling for oilproduces waste, largely mud, which in itself is relatively harmless, but in thelarge quantities produced can cause problems by changing acidity or salinelevels of the soil or water, and by increasing turbidity of the water.[159][159]Site preparation for drilling often involves clearance of vegetation anddredging in the riverine areas.

Oil facilities can also prove hazardous in other ways. Flowstations and other facilities are often inadequately fenced. In Esit Eket, AkwaIbom State, local residents told Human Rights Watch in July 1997 that fivechildren had drowned since the beginning of the year in an unfenced floodedpit, roughly two meters by one meter, where SPDC used to have a "christmastree" well head. They said no compensation from Shell had been paid for thesedeaths.[160][160]

Gas Flaring

Nigeria flares more gas than any other country in the world:approximately 75 percent of total gas production in Nigeria is flared, andabout 95 percent of the "associated gas" which is produced as a by-product ofcrude oil extraction from reservoirs in which oil and gas are mixed.[161][161]About half this gas is flared by SPDC, in line with its share of oilproduction. Flaring in Nigeria contributes a measurable percentage of theworld's total emissions of greenhouse gases; due to the low efficiency of manyof the flares much of the gas is released as methane (which has a high warmingpotential), rather than carbon dioxide.[162][162]At the same time, the low-lying Niger Delta is particularly vulnerable to thepotential effects of sea levels rising.

In 1969, Nigerian legislation required oil companies to setup facilities to use the "associated gas" from their operations within fiveyears of commencement of production. In 1979, further legislation set a timelimit of October April 1980 for companies to develop gas utilization projectsor face fines.[163][163]However, without any gas utilization projects of its own, the government couldnot credibly enforce this legislation. After oil company lobbying, limitedexemptions to this rule were granted in 1985, by an amendment and regulationswhich allowed flaring in certain cases; but in any event, the costs to theoperating companies of ceasing flaring far outweighed the fines imposed.[164][164]Fines for gas flaring were raised in January 1998 from _0.5 to _10 (U.S.11¢)for every 1,000 standard cubic feet of gas.[165][165]

During 1996, SPDC committed itself to the elimination of gasflaring at its facilities by 2008.[166][166]In October 1996, Shell announced that it had awarded a U.S.$500 millioncontract for a new gas processing plant at Soku, Rivers State, which wouldsupply the LNG plant at Bonny with a mixture of associated and non-associatedgas. Together with two other gas facilities, at Odidi and Alscon, SPDC intendsto collect 380 million standard cubic feet per day (scf/d) of associated gas,more than one third of the volume of gas currently flared by the company,before the end of the century.[167][167]Chevron's Escravos gas project, the first phase of which began exporting inSeptember 1997, is intended to reduce flaring by 40 percent from itsfacilities.[168][168]Mobil's Bonny facility, which came on stream in July 1998 producing 50,000 bpdof LNG, collects associated gas and will reduce flaring from its Oso field.

Many communities in the Niger Delta believe that local gasflares cause acid rain which corrodes the metal sheets used for roofing.According to Shell internal documentation, due to the low content of sulphurdioxide and nitrous oxide in the gas, it is unlikely that flaring in factcontributes to acid rain, and various studies by different consultants havefailed to prove a link.[169][169]One study of flares in the Niger Delta found that air, leaf and soiltemperatures were increased up to eighty or one hundred meters from the stack,and species composition of vegetation was affected in the same area.[170][170]However, in one case, at Utapete flow station, on the Atlantic coast near Ikovillage, Akwa Ibom State, a flare was sited too low, so that sea water floodedthe flare pipe at high tide, vaporizing the salt and shooting it over thevillage. Corrosion of the roofs in Iko was shown to be faster than in otherareas. In 1995, SPDC closed the flare at Utapete, shortly after localenvironmentalists issued a report on its effects.[171][171]In other cases, inefficient technology in the flares means that many of themburn without sufficient oxygen or with small amounts of oil mixed in with thegas, creating soot that is deposited on nearby land and buildings, visiblydamaging the vegetation near to the flare. Respiratory problems among childrenas a result are reported, but apparently unresearched.[172][172]The most noticeable yet generally unremarked effect of the flares is lightpollution: across the oil producing regions, the night sky is lit up by flares,that, in the rainy season, reflect luridly from the clouds. Villagers close toflares complain that nocturnal animals are disturbed by this light, and leavethe area, making hunting more difficult.

In some cases, gas flares are very close to communities.Shell claims that this is usually because settlements have grown up around theoil facilities; local communities dispute this claim. In any event, the flaresare rarely if ever relocated, or even made safe by providing secure fencing. InJuly 1997, Human Rights Watch observed women climbing right into the bunded(walled) pit where a flare was burning, to spread out cassava for drying on theearth close to the flame. A malfunction in the flare or missed footing couldhave fatal consequences; it is also likely that the soot from the flare would contaminatethe cassava.

Compensation for Land Expropriation

For oil production to take place, land is expropriated forthe construction of oil facilities (a process referred to by the oil companiesas "land take"). This land is taken under Nigerian laws which are bothdifficult to interpret definitively and provide for an extraordinary level ofgovernment control over land use and transfer. Although the Nigerianconstitution provides that no right or interest in property may be acquiredcompulsorily except under a law providing for the payment of promptcompensation and for the amount of compensation to be determined by a court oflaw or other tribunal, this right has been substantially eroded in practice bylaws passed by successive military governments.[173][173]

The principal statute governing real property in Nigeria isthe 1978 Land Use Act (originally Decree No. 6 of 1978), which provides that:

all land comprised in the territory of each State inthe Federation are [sic] herebyvested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust andadministered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians.[174][174]

Under this law, land in urban areas is under the control andmanagement of the state governor; all other land falls under the control of thelocal government authority. The governor has the absolute right to grant"statutory rights of occupancy" to any land, to issue "certificates ofoccupancy," and to demand payment of rental for that land. Local governmentshave the right to grant "customary rights of occupancy" to land not in urbanareas. While the law is largely ignored in rural areas, where residents treatthe land as their own, any transfer of occupancy rights theoretically requiresthe consent of the governor or local government authority. Equally, thegovernor may revoke a right of occupancy for reasons of "overriding publicinterest." Overriding public interest is defined in section 28 of the act toinclude "the requirement of the land for mining purposes or oil pipelines orfor any purpose connected therewith." In addition, and in common with othermilitary decrees suspending the provisions of the constitution or ousting thejurisdiction of the courts to inquire into executive acts, the Land Use Act isstated to have effect "notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any law orrule of law, including the Constitution... and... no court shall havejurisdiction to inquire into any question concerning or pertaining to theamount or adequacy of any compensation paid or to be paid under this Act."[175][175]The 1979 constitution itself specifically provides that nothing in theconstitution shall invalidate the Land Use Decree.[176][176]

If land is acquired for mining purposes, the Land Use Actprovides that the occupier is entitled to compensation as provided under theMinerals Act or the Mineral Oils Act (now superseded by the Petroleum Act). Ifcompensation is due to a community, it may be paid "to the community," "to thechief or leader of the community to be disposed of by him for the benefit ofthe community," or "into some fund specified by the Military Governor for thepurpose of being utilised or applied for the benefit of the community."[177][177]The Petroleum Act (originally Decree No. 51 of 1969), however, makes noprovision for compensation to be paid for land acquisition. Section 1 of theact vests the entire ownership and control of all petroleum in, under or uponany land within the country or beneath its waters in the state. Although theact requires the holders of oil exploration licenses, oil prospecting licensesor oil mining leases to pay "fair and adequate compensation for the disturbanceof surface or other rights" to the owner or occupier of any land or property,[178][178]nothing is due for expropriation of the land itself; thus for propertiesacquired since the Land Use Act came into effect rent is paid to the federalgovernment only.[179][179]Since oil is federal property, land occupiers are entitled to no royalties foroil extracted from their land.

The Oil Pipelines Act, dating from 1956 but since amended,provides for compensation both in respect of surface rights and in respect ofthe loss of value of the land affected by a pipeline.[180][180]Disputes as to the compensation due may be referred to court, which "shallaward such compensation as it considers just," taking into account not onlydamage to buildings, crops, and "economic trees," but also damage caused bynegligence or disturbance, and the loss in value of the land or interests inthe land.[181][181]

Land is acquired by the oil companies for oil operationsfrom the Nigerian government under these laws, which in practice allow thegovernment to expropriate land for the oil industry with no effective dueprocess protections for those whose livelihoods may be destroyed by theconfiscation of their land. While Human Rights Watch recognizes that everygovernment has the right to acquire land for public purposes, those affectedshould have the right to voice opposition to the acquisition, to challenge itbefore an impartial court, and to obtain adequate compensation. In practice,the decision as to the land that will be expropriated and the determination ofsuch compensation as will be paid appears to be made by the oil industryitself.

According to Shell internal documentation, the oil companymust first notify the government of the intention and purpose of a proposedacquisition, based on its own surveys of the area. The oil company alsoidentifies the owners/occupiers of the land, notifies them of its intentions,and agrees a date for assessment of the property. Compensation for surfacerights is valued in accordance with government rates which vary according towhether land is cultivated and what structures, fishponds, "economic trees," orother assets are present. Valuations are approved by the Divisional Land Board.Once compensation payments have been made to the occupiers for the surfacerights, a one-off payment, a permit to take possession of the land is grantedto the oil company.[182][182]SPDC states that its operations have taken approximately 280 square kilometersof land, or 0.3 percent of the total area of the Niger Delta and that measuresare being undertaken to reduce the land taken, such as the introduction of"horizontal drilling," and to rehabilitate land no longer needed, for exampleby replanting land cleared for seismic surveys.[183][183]

While the total land take may seem small by these figures,the effect of land confiscation under the legal regime in place can be veryserious for those affected. Since the Land Use Act and the other relevant lawprovides local communities with very limited rights over land they havetraditionally used, both government agencies and private companies are largelyable to ignore customary land use rights, in the oil areas as elsewhere.Because the government has complete control over land, it is easy for oilcompanies to ignore local concerns and to fail to ensure that local communitiesare fully consulted. Decisions relating to use of land are completely taken outof the hands of those who have lived on and used it for centuries. Moreover,whatever the total effect of land expropriations, the effect on individuallandholders can be devastating, in some cases even destroying livelihoods,especially since there is heavy pressure on cultivable land across the oilproducing regions. Community members also have a strong conviction, based ontraditional land use arrangements, that the community in general should becompensated for land take and disturbance caused by oil activities.

Compensation for Oil Spills

Compensation for pollution damage is equally plagued byproblems of due process and difficulties in interpreting a series ofoverlapping statutes, combined with rules developed through the common law. ThePetroleum Act does not explicitly refer to spills, but its requirement for oilcompanies to pay "fair and adequate compensation for the disturbance of surfaceor other rights" to the owner or occupier of any land or property affected byexploration or production has been held to apply to oil spills.[184][184]There is no statutory definition of fair and adequate compensation, but in thelead case interpreting this provision,ShellPetroleum Development Company v. Farah, the Court of Appeal, basing itsjudgment on English and Nigerian case law, stated that compensation should"restore the person suffering the damnum [loss] as far as money can do that tothe position he was before the damnum or would have been but for the damnum."[185][185]The Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations, made under the Act,provide only for compensation for interference with fishing rights.[186][186]

The Oil Pipelines Act explicitly provides that compensationis due "to any person suffering damage (other than on account of his owndefault or on account of the malicious act of a third person) as a consequenceof any breakage or leakage from the pipeline or an ancillary installation, forany such damage not otherwise made good," and also provides, as stated above,for valuation to take into account damage to crops, buildings, "economic trees"and loss in value of the land.[187][187]The Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act, in addition to providing forcriminal liability for contravention of its provisions, and for spillers to beresponsible for the cost of rehabilitating land, states that companiesviolating its provisions or regulations made under it "shall be directed to paycompensation for any damage resulting from such breach thereof or to repair andrestore the polluted environmental area to an acceptable level as approved bythe Agency unless he proves to the satisfaction of the court that-(a) he useddue diligence to secure compliance with this Act; and (b) such offence wascommitted without his knowledge consent or connivance."[188][188]

Nigerian case law also incorporates liability fornegligence, nuisance, trespass, and the rule inRylands v. Fletcher, an English law case of 1866, which held thatanyone bringing onto land, in the course of a "non-natural" use of the land,something "likely to do mischief if it escapes... isprima facieanswerable for all the damage which is the naturalconsequence of its escape."[189][189]The Nigerian courts have held that crude oil can (though does not always) fallinto this category. The rule provides for strict liability; that is to say, itis not necessary to prove negligence on the part of the person allowing thedamaging material to escape, once it has been shown that the use is"non-natural" and that the material is dangerous or "mischievous." However,"the owner of a dangerous thing is not liable if the thing has escaped throughthe independent act of a third party and there has been no negligence on hispart... in the absence of a finding that he instigated [the act] or that heought to have provided against it."[190][190]

Compensation at uniform rates is paid by the oil companiesfor spillages, where they are not attributed to sabotage, as for landexpropriated. The government sets compensation rates, but the oil companies payhigher rates which are agreed across the industry and are claimed by Shell tobe "calculated at on-going market prices. Loss of revenue for the period andinconveniences are also incorporated into the compensation paid."[191][191]In September 1997, oil companies in Nigeria announced that they were increasingthe rates of compensation paid in case of oil spillage or land acquisition byover 100 percent, to _500,000 per hectare (U.S.$5,600).[192][192]Elf states that "Compensations are paid either to the individual or familyproperty, or to representatives with power of attorney in case of communityproperty."[193][193]In theory, these rates can be challenged in the courts, which will applygeneral rules for assessing damages in tort (civil wrong) cases, but inpractice, the standardized rates are applied.[194][194]

When spills occur, the usual procedure is that the companywill be informed by the community which sees itself asthe "host community" tothe company, or by the community which will suffer most from the spill. Thecompany will send its representatives to assess the extent of the spill, andthe community will be instructed to approach one of the company's registeredand approved claims agents. Alternatively, the community may approach its ownlawyers and hire its own claims agents for the purpose of a legal case, but fewcommunities are able to pay legal fees up front, and so their only possibilitymay be to make deals with lawyers which mean that, in the event of success incourt, much of the award may be taken by the legal team. Law cases are soprotracted that they offer, in reality, no alternative to thecompany-controlled procedure.

Even when compensation is agreed in principle at oil companyrates, compensation payments rarely reflect the true value of the loss to thelocal community.[195][195]There are constant disputes as to what is included and to the rates paid. Theoil companies allege that local communities greatly inflate their claims, includingold equipment among items that are damaged by a spill: for this reason, forexample, Shell states that there is no payment for damaged fishing nets"collected after any spillage has been contained."[196][196]Communities claim on the other hand that the compensation they receive when aclaim is finally agreed is nothing compared to the loss they suffer overall andthat the oil companies refuse to take into account the particular circumstancesof each case, applying uniform rates whatever the loss suffered in practice:while villagers are often unaware of the full environmental consequences of oilpollution, they are well aware of the economic effect of spills on their incomederived from farming or fishing.

It is also probable that the amounts theoretically paid outby the oil companies are plundered along the way by claims agents and othersand do not reach the people who have actually suffered from oil companyactivity. Landholders in Osubi, Delta State, affected by land taken toconstruct an airport for Shell in 1997-98 were reportedly paid sums from _20(U.S.22¢) to _200 (U.S.$2.20) for nut and rubber trees worth several thousandnaira annually to their owners.[197][197]In any event, cash payments can rarely compensate for the continuing incomesupplied by assets such as economically valuable trees which have beendestroyed.


SPDC claimed in 1996 that sabotage accounted for more than60 percent of all oil spilled at its facilities in Nigeria, stating that thepercentage has increased over the years both because the number of sabotageincidents has increased and because spills due to corrosion have decreased withprograms to replace oil pipelines.[198][198]Of oil spills during 1997, Shell stated that 63,889 barrels, or almost 80percent of a total 80,412 barrels, were spilled due to sabotage.[199][199]Other oil companies similarly report sabotage to their pipelines andinstallations.[200][200]Shell states that "sabotage is usually easy to determine, since there isevidence of cleanly drilled holes, hacksaw cuts, cutting of protective cages toopen valves, etc. In the few cases where the evidence is unclear, ultrasonicsoundings are taken for further clarification."[201][201]Similarly, Shell claimed that 60 percent of spillages in Ogoni from 1985 to thetime it ceased production in the area were caused by sabotage.

The claims of sabotage are hotly disputed by the communitiesconcerned. Community leaders point out that, given the fact that compensationpayments are paid late and are inadequate even if it is proved the company isat fault, there is little for them to gain from polluting their own drinkingwater and destroying their own crops-though they agree that this argument maynot apply to those who are contractors involved in cleaning up spills. In 1996,the British Advertising Standards Authority reviewed the claim that 60 percentof spills in Ogoni were caused by sabotage, following complaints from membersof the public and from Friends of the Earth, and concluded that "theadvertisers had not given enough information to support the claim and asked forit not to be repeated."[202][202]Statistics from the Department of Petroleum Resources indicate that only 4percent of all spills in Nigeria were caused by sabotage during the period 1976to 1990; these statistics include offshore spills, which have been by far thelargest, and are unlikely to be caused by sabotage.[203][203]

In cases of sabotage, in accordance with Nigerian law, theoil companies do not pay compensation for spills, on the grounds that to paycompensation creates an incentive to damage oil installations and harm theenvironment. However, even if a spill is caused by sabotage, the personcarrying out the sabotage is not necessarily the person who suffers the damage.In many cases, it appears that sabotage is carried out by contractors likely tobe paid to clean up the damage; sometimes with the connivance of oil companystaff. A former adviser to a state petroleum minister commented as follows,repeating the gist of many similar reports to Human Rights Watch: "It is truethat there is a lot of sabotage, but often it is the chiefs who do it. The oilcompany then settles the chiefs [i.e. pays them off] by giving them thecontract to clean up, but they tell the youths they have received nothing. Thenthe youths protest and cause damage and the chief gets more money. If thegovernment and the oil companies did development projects properly it would nothappen."[204][204]

Part of the problem is that there is no independentconfirmation that spillages have been caused bysabotage: although theDepartment of Petroleum Resources is supposed to confirm sabotage and communitymembers may also be invited to inspect the damaged installation, often nogenuinely independent experts are present. Typical is the case of a landholderin Obobura, Rivers State, in the Obagi oil field operated by Elf.[205][205]On December 31, 1996, a spillage occurred at a well head on his land, sprayingcrude oil over a wide area and destroying crops and fishponds. The spill wascleared up within one month, apparently by shoveling off the surface layer ofoil and burning it on site, a method of cleanup which is not in compliance withinternational best practice. Local contractors were hired for this work, thoughnot the family who owned the land; when they protested that they should beemployed and attempted to stop clear-up work, a small detachment of MobilePolice came to warn them off and guard the site. The landowner hired a lawyerwho wrote to Elf on January 9, 1997, demanding compensation. The reply, datedFebruary 4, 1997, states (in full, as to its substantive content):

Investigation into the alleged spillage shows thatsome unknown person(s) cut and removed the nipple valve in the Surface SafetyValve (SSV) sensing line at the well head. Consequently, crude oil, under highpressure, jet out, affecting an area of about 100m by 150m. Thus it is a caseof established sabotage, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) supportsour stand. We are therefore not liable to your clients in respect of theirclaim for compensation and wish that the issue be allowed to rest.[206][206]

Five members of the landholder's family, who denyresponsibility for the sabotage-logically, considering the damage to theircrops and the lack of any benefit received-were arrested on January 4, 1997,apparently on suspicion that they were responsible for the sabotage, and heldovernight at Akabuka police station. They were released the next day, withoutcharge, but only after payment of _1,000 (U.S.$11) for each person.[207][207]

Human Rights Watch is not in a position to comment on thecause of the spillage that led to this incident. However, given that theDepartment of Petroleum Resources is close to the oil companies, there was noindependent confirmation of the allegation that the spill was caused bysabotage. No opportunity for an independent assessment was offered to thefamily affected, and the information given to their lawyer which is said to"establish" sabotage is too cursory to be convincing. Moreover, the letterstates that "unknown person(s)" cut the valve, suggesting that there was noevidence against those arrested. In correspondence with Human Rights Watch, Elfessentially repeated the information in the letter written to the lawyers forthe family, but gave no new details.[208][208]

The Petroleum Production and Distribution (Anti-Sabotage) Actof 1975, a military decree of the regime led by Gen. Murtala Mohammed, definedan offense of "sabotage" for the first time:

Any person who does any of the following things, thatis to say-

(a)wilfully doesanything with intent to obstruct or prevent the production or distribution ofpetroleum products in any part of Nigeria; or

(b)wilfully doesanything with intent to obstruct or prevent the procurement of petroleumproducts for distribution in any part of Nigeria; or

(c)wilfully doesanything in respect of any vehicle or any public highway with intent toobstruct or prevent the use of that vehicle or that public highway for thedistribution of petroleum products,

shall, if by doing that thing he, to any significantextent, causes or contributes to any interruption in the production ordistribution of petroleum products in any part of Nigeria, be guilty of theoffence of sabotage under this Act.

Any person who aids, incites, counsels or procures any otherperson to do any of these things is equally guilty of sabotage. The decree alsoallows the head of state to constitute a military tribunal to try personscharged with offenses under the act, and states that those convicted may besentenced either to death or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty-oneyears.[209][209]The Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1975, passed by the sameregime, makes any person who "destroys, damages or removes any oil pipeline orinstallation connected therewith"; or who "otherwise prevents or obstructs theflow of oil along any such pipeline or interferes with any installationconnected therewith" guilty of an offense. The offense is punishable by a fineor ten years imprisonment in the first case, or a fine or three yearsimprisonment in the second.[210][210]These laws were followed by the Special Tribunal (Miscellaneous Offences)Decree No. 20 of 1984, which created a range of offenses triable by"miscellaneous offenses tribunals" and provides that:

Any person who wilfully or maliciously-

(a)breaks,damages, disconnects or otherwise tampers with any pipe or pipeline for thetransportation of crude oil or refined oil or gas; or

(b)obstructs,damages, destroys, or otherwise tampers or interferes with the free flow of anycrude oil or refined petroleum product through any oil pipeline,

shall be guilty of an offence and liable on convictionto be sentenced to imprisonment for life.[211][211]

Unauthorized importation or sale of petroleum products ortheir adulturation were also made offenses.[212][212]The decree provides that the constitutional bill of rights shall not apply toanything done under its authority, and that the courts may not inquire into anysuch actions.[213][213]While the decree did not explicitly repeal the earlier legislation relating tosabotage, it did provide that any person who "was arrested, detained or chargedwith an offence under any other enactment amounting to an offence under thisAct" should rather be tried under the Special Tribunal (Miscellaneous Offences)Decree.[214][214]Insofar as the offenses overlap, therefore, they are triable before amiscellaneous offenses tribunal, and subject to the penalties applicable underthe decree, though the status of the previous laws appears to be uncertain.

According to Shell, "prosecutions for sabotage are extremelyrare since, in order to obtain a conviction, the perpetrators must either becaught in the act or there must be other evidence to place them at the scene ofthe crime. Also, since the law provides severe penalties, it has not been inthe interest of sustained community relations to press for charges, even whenthere is circumstantial evidence."[215][215]Chevron confirmed that the company "has not been able to prosecute in cases ofsabotage," and that it was not aware of any prosecutions by the Nigerianauthorities: "While it is usually not too difficult to determine sabotage,there are often very few evidences to identify who is responsible."[216][216]Elf stated that "Sabotage cases are normally reported to the police, but we donot enforce prosecution for the interest of peace."[217][217]

The Niger Delta Environmental Survey

As a result of the focus on Shell's activities in Nigeriabrought by the activities of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Movement for the Survival ofthe Ogoni People (MOSOP), Shell led a move to establish a Niger DeltaEnvironmental Survey (NDES).[218][218]Shell announced the initiative, designed to head off international criticism ofits Nigerian operations, on behalf of its joint venture with NNPC, Agip andElf, on February 3, 1995, and the NDES steering committee held its firstmeeting on May 24, 1995. Originally financed only by the SPDC joint venture,the steering committee-urged by local and internationalenvironmentalists-insisted on the need for greater independence. Eventually,the NDES was established as an independent corporate entity, a company limitedby guarantee, and all members of the Oil Producers Trade Section of the LagosChamber of Commerce agreed to make financial contributions, as did the RiversState and Delta State governments.

Although the survey had been originally conceived of by Shellas a purely technical collection of scientific data on the environment in thedelta, the steering committee decided that the more pressing need was for anevaluation of the socio-economic and human dimensions of the environmentaldegradation visible in the delta.[219][219]The mission statement eventually adopted by the NDES states that the aims ofthe survey were: "In concert with communities and other stakeholders toundertake a comprehensive environmental survey of the Niger Delta, establishthe causes of ecological and socio-economic change over time and inducecorrective action by encouraging relevant stakeholders to address specificenvironmental and related socio-economic problems identified in the course ofthe Survey, to improve the quality of life of the people and achievesustainable development in the region."[220][220]The survey was intended to be "both people and community centred" and to"involve all stakeholders, particularly communities in the Niger Delta, in theprocess of conceptualising and implementing the Survey and secure their fullparticipation in gathering the data, and in interpreting and using them."[221][221]With this strong community focus, based on participatory rural appraisaltechniques, the NDES was expected to provide:

a.acomprehensive description of the area, ecological zones, boundaries, anddifferent uses of renewable and non-renewable natural resources; integratedview on the state of the environment and its relationship to local people; analysis ofthe causal relationships between land use, settlement patterns, industry andthe environment, to provide a base line for future development planning; indicativeplan for the development and management of the Niger Delta.[222][222]

Thus, the NDES aimed to "recommend reform of policies andpractices which encourage social dislocation and environmental degradation;address poverty-induced causes of environmental degradation and social tension;improve public sensitivity and understanding of environmental issues and theapplication of this understanding; and strengthen the capacity of the people toidentify and deal with environmental problems, in their local space and theirown cultural idiom."[223][223]

With such an ambitious brief, it was perhaps inevitable thatthe NDES failed to fulfil its promise. SPDC had originally intended that thesurvey would be completed within two years, and the timetable eventuallyscheduled was for a preparatory phase from February to October 1995(establishing a steering committee, defining terms of reference, and selectingmanaging consultants to conduct the survey); phase one, from November 1995 toApril 1996; and phase two, from twelve to eighteen months after phase one.However, this schedule soon began to slip, as problems in the management of thesurvey became increasingly apparent. Phase one of the survey was eventuallycarried out between February and July 1996, by Euroconsult, a Dutchenvironmental consultancy, which produced a two volume report on "thedefinition, description of the Niger Delta and the assessment of data."[224][224]The report was seriously criticized by Nigerian environmentalists involved inthe process, and by some personnel within SPDC, for failing to provide a clearidea of what had been achieved so far and what the next stages should be.Although a follow up report was prepared, disagreements between Euroconsult andthe steering committee continued, and the contract with Euroconsult was notextended.

In September 1997, a fresh four-volume report was completedby Environmental Resources Managers Ltd, a Lagos-based consultancy, which wasstated finally to represent the completion of phase one of the survey. Phasetwo of the survey is supposedly underway, though in effect the project appearsto have ground virtually to a halt. Nigerian environmentalists express greatskepticism as to the independence of the NDES from the oil industry-which fundsit-in practice, and its ability to carry out its mandate effectively. What wasinitially a promising project which community members themselves, consulted forvirtually the first time about their own environment, reportedly felt couldmake a positive contribution to improvement of their circumstances and themanagement of the delta, has degenerated into an opportunity for patronage forits members. A comprehensive and independent assessment of the impact of theoil industry on the ecology and communities of the Niger Delta that involvescommunities themselves in the process is badly needed; the NDES was the firstattempt to carry out such an assessment, but its structure was alwaysproblematic for this task and it has apparently failed.


The coming of the oil industry has transformed the localeconomy of the oil producing communities. Although the changes are not as profoundas those among previously uncontacted peoples of the Amazon rainforest livingin areas where oil has been discovered[225][225]-theNiger Delta was one of the first parts of Nigeria to have extensive contactwith Europeans, and was profoundly affected by the slave trade (from which somelocal leaders profited, while other communities in the hinterland werevictims), and subsequently exported oil palm derivatives and other localproducts-the sheer quantities of cash involved in the oil industry cannot butdramatically affect local economic opportunities and power relations betweenthose who lose or gain from those opportunities. In some respects, the oileconomy has had beneficial effects, creating job opportunities and educationaland infrastructure development in areas which would otherwise likely have beenfar more marginalized within the Nigerian state. Overall, however, the effectsof oil are at best ambivalent, and most local activists argue that they haveproved negative for the communities where oil is produced.

Minorities in the Oil Producing Regions

The peoples living in the oil producing communities largelybelong to ethnic groups other than the three major groups (Yoruba, Igbo, andHausa-Fulani) that dominate Nigeria. They speak a diverse range of languagesand dialects: at least five major language groups are represented in the deltastates.[226][226]The largest of these groups are the Ijaw, who collectively form Nigeria'sfourth largest ethnic group but are themselves divided, as a consequence of thedifficult territory which they inhabit, into subgroups speaking mutuallyunintelligible dialects of the Ijaw language (by some definitions thusthemselves different languages).[227][227]There are estimated to be approximately eight million people (there are noreliable census data) who would describe themselves as Ijaw, largely living inthe riverine areas of what are now Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States, as well asin Port Harcourt, Warri, and other towns on dry land. The division between theriverine and upland areas is of major cultural and geopolitical importance inthe debates over the rights of the oil areas.

Other ethnic groups on dry land in what is now Rivers Stateinclude the Ogoni, numbering some 500,000 (themselves divided between fourseparate dialect groups); several groups speaking languages related to Igbo,including the Etche, Ndoni, and Ikwerre; a number of communities speakingdialects falling into a Central Delta language group; the Andoni, who speak aLower Cross dialect, and others.[228][228]In Delta State are found the Itsekiri (whose language is related to Yoruba),the Urhobo, Edo, Isoko (in the Edo language group centered on Benin), andothers. In the Cross River valley toward the Cameroon border, now Akwa Ibom andCross River States, live the Efik, on the coast; the Ibibio; and, furthernorth, a large number of ethnic groups, some of whose languages are spoken byno more than a few tens of thousands of people: the Willink Commissionestimated that there were seventeen major languages and some 300 of lesser importancein the region.[229][229]In addition, there are large numbers of Igbo immigrants into the minorityareas, especially to the British-created town of Port Harcourt, while oil isalso produced in some areas of the majority Igbo Imo State.

At the time of the Willink Commission representatives of theIjaw already complained that the particular problems of those living in thecreeks and swamps of the delta were not understood, indeed deliberatelyneglected, by both the regional and federal governments.[230][230]A number of indigenous rulers of the Ijaw coastal communities, many of whom hadconcluded "treaties of protection" with the British in the eighteenth andnineteenth centuries, argued that the British should revoke the treaties,allowing them to revert to their previous position of independence, rather thanbecome part of one Nigerian state. The commission rejected this contention, nordid it recommend the creation of a separate state for the riverine Ijaw areas;[231][231]however, it did recommend the creation of a federal board to consider theproblems of the Niger Delta and "to direct the development of the areas intochannels which would meet their peculiar problems," and the assumption of jointfederal and regional responsibility for "the development of special areas."[232][232]Between 1956 and 1959, twelve provinces with provincial assemblies were alsocreated out of the Eastern Region, in a further move to allay the fears ofminorities.

Following independence, the federal government passed theNiger Delta Development Act in 1961, establishing a Niger Delta DevelopmentBoard. The board had powers only to undertake surveys and make recommendationsto the federal and regional governments.[233][233]It was based in Port Harcourt, not itself in the Niger Delta "special area."Despite this gesture, dissatisfaction among the delta peoples remained. InFebruary 1966, shortly after the first coup, and before the outbreak of theBiafra war, Isaac Boro, Sam Owonaro, and Nottingham Dick, leading a group ofabout 150 youths known as the Delta Volunteer Service, proclaimed a "NigerDelta Republic" intended to comprise mainly the Ijaw.[234][234]The "twelve day revolution" was soon crushed by the Nigerian army and theleaders convicted of treason and sentenced to death; but, with the outbreak ofthe war, Boro, Owonaro, and Dick were released by Gen. Yakubu Gowon and joinedmany others in the riverine area in opposing what they perceived as the threatof the Igbo domination in the intended Biafra state. In September 1966, adelegation of "Rivers Leaders of Thought" presented a "Rivers State Memorandum"to General Gowon. In 1967, Rivers State was created, though it could only beginto function with the defeat of the secessionists by federal troops in thegreater part of the state by September 1968.[235][235]

During the civil war, the minority groups of the delta weregenerally sympathetic to the federal cause, fearing domination in an Igbostate; the government of the secessionist Biafra state accordingly treatedminority leaders with suspicion, and many were detained, tortured, evenexecuted. With the defeat of Biafra, and reconstruction of the southeasternregion, the minorities were once again integrated into a wider federal system,though demands for greater autonomy and recognition of the role played by theeconomic resources of the Niger Delta in the national economy continued. Witheach round of state creation, the Ijaws of the riverine areas made their case,though not until October 1996 were these demands answered by the federalgovernment, with the creation of Bayelsa State out of the riverine areas ofRivers State. The Ijaws in Delta State, however, were excluded from the newgovernment unit, which in any event almost totally lacks the infrastructure andpersonnel necessary to develop and administer policies for the area. TheBayelsa State capital, Yenagoa, was when the state was created little more thana crossroads, bus terminal and landing stage at the junction of the dry landand riverine areas.

The creation of Bayelsa State has not silenced the debateover revenue allocation to the oil producing communities, and petitions togovernment continue to demand better terms. Manifestoes by groups such as theSouthern Minorities Movement and the Ijaw National Congress were submitted tothe constitutional conference of 1994 to 1995. A seminar attended byrepresentatives of the oil companies, NNPC, and leaders from oil producingcommunities in April 1997 issued a statement recommending that the federalgovernment allocate a percentage of royalties on oil to them, suggesting that"the royalties percentage could be withheld as sanctions for acts of vandalismagainst properties of oil companies."[236][236]In March 1998, a meeting called by oil minister Dan Etete among representativesof Royal Dutch/Shell and military administrators of the oil producing statesannounced the creation of a new body, comprising representatives of government,oil companies and host communities, to coordinate provision of socialinvestment in the oil producing areas. The Department of Petroleum Resourceswas given three months "to work out strategies for achieving observableresults."[237][237]Minority resentment of the federal government and of Yoruba and Igbo dominationof the oil industry remains a potent force: with the death of General Abachaand the inauguration of a new transition program, demands for greater attentionto be paid to the oil producing communities by the federal government and theoil companies have surged once again.

Social and Economic Conditions in the Oil ProducingCommunities Today

Despite the vast oil wealth of the oil producing areas, theNiger Delta region remains poor-though detailed, accurate data on the economicsituation do not exist. GNP per capita is below the estimated national averageof U.S.$260, and is lower still in the riverine and coastal areas. Unemploymentin Port Harcourt, the capital of the region, is at least 30 percent. Educationlevels are below the national average, already low: approximately threequarters of Nigerian children are believed to attend primary school, and nationaladult illiteracy is estimated at 43 percent, but in parts of the deltaattendance at primary school drops to less than a third and illiteracy ispresumably correspondingly higher (this is by contrast to the position atindependence, when the delta still benefitted in terms of western educationfrom its earlier contact with European missionaries).[238][238]The poverty level is exacerbated by the high cost of living: the influx ofpeople employed in the well-paid energy sector has made Port Harcourt and theother urban areas of the region among the most expensive in Nigeria. The oilsector employs only a small percentage of the workforce: a labor aristocracy ofhigh wages surrounded by a great mass of un- or under-employed.

The state governments report that only 20 to 25 percent ofrural communities and 45 to 50 percent of urban areas have access to safedrinking water; in all likelihood this is an overestimate. Proper sanitation isavailable to less than 25 percent of the population; in Port Harcourt, the region'sbiggest city, there is no city-wide sewage system. This situation is common tomuch of Nigeria but worse in the delta regions, where it is additionallyexacerbated in the areas of regular flooding. Water related diseases arewidespread and probably the "central health problem in the Niger Delta."[239][239]State programs for immunization of children have declined drastically in recentyears: in Rivers State 85 percent of children were immunized in 1989, droppingto 15 percent in 1991; in Delta State 80 percent of children were immunized in1990, dropping to 40 percent in 1993.[240][240]As in the rest of Nigeria, electricity supply from the national grid iserratic; in any event, most of the riverine and coastal areas are not connectedto the grid, and depend on kerosene stoves and lamps or private generators forpower.

In Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta States, estimated on the basisof the 1991 census to have a total population of up to seven million, about 70percent of the population lives in rural delta communities.[241][241]While overall population densities are not high, because of the high percentageof land not suitable for settlement, densities per habitable area are veryhigh. Higher flood levels, projected as a result of upstream dam siltation,threaten to increase densities still further in those areas. Higher populationdensities have in turn increased the human and economic impact of seasonalinundations during which periods water levels can rise eight to ten metersabove their lowest dry season levels.

Local population growth coupled with the influx of peoplefrom other parts of Nigeria, pushed by pressure on land elsewhere or pulled bythe economic opportunities offered by the energy sector, has put seriouspressure on agricultural land. New roads built by the oil companies to accesstheir facilities are swiftly followed by agricultural development andsettlement. As a result of pressure on land, farmers are forced to shorten theperiods during which fields are allowed to lie fallow; fertilizers are notavailable to the great majority of farmers. Reduced sedimentation, caused bythe construction of dams, is also believed to have contributed to decreasedfertility. Yields have declined as a result: in the oil producing communitiesdecreases in yield have often coincided with the beginning of oil production,and are usually attributed to the activities of the oil companies, though it isdifficult to disentangle the different causes.[242][242]

Several hundred thousand people make a living throughfishing. Fish catches in the delta region are believed to be well abovesustainable levels, though statistics are unreliable.[243][243]Most fishing is carried out on a small-scale basis by self-employed fishermenand women using wooden canoes, rather than by commercial enterprises; however,commercial trawlers do operate offshore. The dams on the Niger and Benue Riversand their tributaries have contributed to declining fish stocks, by reducingfloods and nutrient inputs. Local fishermen complain at reduced catches inrecent years, and attribute the decline to pollution from oil operations-bothoil spillages and other effects such as increased turbidity of the water causedby dredging or traffic of large motor-powered craft. Again, lack of properresearch makes it difficult to evaluate the overall contribution of hydrocarbonpollution to declining fish catch. In individual cases, however, oil spills cankill large numbers of fish in a small area. While spills in the open sea or inlarge creeks in tidal areas disperse fairly quickly, oil spilled in freshwaterswamps or affecting fishponds in forest areas is confined to a small area.Moreover, although the effect of fish kill as a result of a spill can bemitigated by fishing elsewhere in the sea or large creeks, where access isusually open for those fishing from a particular community, the effect of aspill can destroy much of the livelihood for those affected in the freshwaterswamp, where fishing areas and fishponds belong to particular families.

The forests of the Niger Delta of all types provideimportant sources of food and income to local communities. Mangrove has overseventy major uses: non-timber forest products collected from the mangroveforests include medicines, dyes, thatching, and food species as diverse asmonkeys or periwinkles. In the freshwater swamp forests, raffia palm, mango,ogbono (bush mango; a common food ingredient in the local diet and sold acrossNigeria), land snails, and other products are all significant.[244][244]Destruction of "undeveloped" forest is thus as important to local communitiesas destruction of cultivated land.

Oil Company Relations with the Oil Producing Communities

Shell's statement of general business principles recognizes"society" as one of the five groups to which Shell companies owe aresponsibility (the others are shareholders, customers, employees, and thosewith whom they do business). Shell companies "take a constructive interest insocietal matters which may not be directly related to the business," and"provide full relevant information about their activities to legitimatelyinterested parties, subject to any overriding considerations of businessconfidentiality and cost."[245][245]Chevron's statement on "mission and vision," which it calls "The Chevron Way,"commits Chevron to be "Better than the Best," a philosophy which means, amongstother things, that "communities welcome us." Chevron companies stated aim is to"Communicate openly with the public regarding possible impact of our businesson them or the environment,"[246][246]to "establish an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship with thepeople," and to be the "petroleum company of choice in Nigeria."[247][247]Chevron supplied Human Rights Watch with a range of publications produced inNigeria, apparently aimed at informing local communities about theiroperations. Mobil, Agip, and Elf did not supply us with any similar companypolicy document, either oninternational or national policies; previouslyacquired copies of Mobil's policies on business ethics and related matters donot refer to policies on community relations.

The oil companies have formal structures through which theirrelations with local communities are supposed to be channeled. SPDC's officialpolicy is that contacts with the oil producing communities are conductedthrough Community Relations Committees, consisting of the chief, elders and"representatives of relevant groups."[248][248]Shell also claims that "Many SPDC employees are themselves members ofcommunities in the oil producing regions, where they live and work. SPDC istherefore well aware of the problems affecting the communities of the NigerDelta."[249][249]SPDC first began to appoint community liaison officers in 1992, and attributesa drop in the time taken to resolve disputes to their appointment.[250][250]There are about twenty community liaison officers in the eastern division, andpresumably a similar number in the western division. Though their appointmentrepresents a recognition of the need for better communication with thecommunities, the liaison officers have, however, been appointed from amongShell's technical staff, and do not have specialized training in developmentissues. They receive only a few weeks of training maximum, sometimes as littleas one week. From all accounts, they show little interest in changing theirapproach from the past.[251][251]

Mobil, stating that "Mobil cares for all its publics,particularly the communities," claims to have had "an enviable and unrivaledpolicy on community relations for many years."[252][252]Mobil says it has public relations committees in all of the four communitiesclosest to its operations (Eket, Esit Eket, Onna, and Ibeno, in Akwa IbomState). Mobil has also recently established a public relations committee inBonny, where a terminal for its Oso natural gas project is being constructed.According to Mobil, "The committee members are elected by their respectivecommunities. The committees are responsible for sampling opinions from theircommunities to determine what projects they want Mobil to carry out. Theprojects are prioritized and discussed with Mobil External Affairs staff. Projectsare executed based on our community relations budget."[253][253]Residents of the areas where Mobil operates, however, criticize the publicrelations committees for being "packed" with Mobil contractors, turningthemselves into "employment agencies, contract conduits and distortion andbribe-stricken organizations."[254][254]

Similarly, Chevron states that, "As a matter of course, wehold quarterly meetings with community representatives.... Chevron has no handin the selection of community representatives. Communities elect theirrepresentatives at Town Hall meetings and forward their names to us. Mostcommunities hold elections every two or three years.... We also hold town hallmeetings and public enlightenment forums on a regular basis." Chevron's"Community Relations Officers are recruited based on their academicqualifications and experience in relationship building. More than 75% of ourCommunity Relations staff come from host communities."[255][255]Despite these efforts, Chevron admitted to Human Rights Watch, in the contextof a particular incident of hostage taking, that "We have restricted ouroperational activities in the Ilaje area [Ondo State] because of the greatdifficulties in reaching meaningful and lasting agreements with thecommunities."[256][256]

Elf "has created the positions of Community RelationsOfficers, who are EPNL permanent staff and are dedicated to the hostcommunities and project sites. These officers have proven experiences, havinginteracted with these communities for nothing less than 10 years. They also possessa good knowledge of the company and its operations. In addition they haveopportunities for external training courses. EPNL deals primarily with hostfamilies, Community Development Committees and... Consultative Committees. Wealso dialogue with elders, youth organizations and environmental agencies. EPNLdiscusses development projects / community affairs with the consultativecommittees. Each representation to this committee is selected by the varioushost communities. It has a two year tenure."[257][257]Elf further maintains that its community relations policy "meets thefundamental basis for enabling work environment by: (I) being proactive; (ii)identifying with the needs and aspirations of host communities i.e. theprovision of socio-economic infrastructure; (iii) being conscious of the needto protect the environment; (iv) close collaboration with government agencies,community leaders, youth organizations, etc; (v) principles of dialogue."[258][258]

It is Human Rights Watch's understanding that Agip hassimilar structures. However, Agip's response to our correspondence did notsupply information requested on community relations structures.

Despite the stated policies of some of the oil companies,the oil companies and their contractors are typically perceived as arrogant anddismissive by local communities. Those who negotiate with the communities arefrequently described as unsympathetic or hostile, and in allegiance with localchiefs and contractors. A chief in Obite village near the Elf's gas project,asked by the community to negotiate with C&C Construction, a contractor toElf, for development spending in the village, complained that it was impossibleto fix a meeting with the company's representatives.[259][259]Another man, from Egbema village in Rivers State, part of whose land had beentaken to form the nearby Agip compound, complained that "At times they inviteus to discuss our problems with them, but when we go there they take us for ajoke."[260][260]The headquarters of the oil companies in Port Harcourt are difficult to gainaccess to without an appointment; perhaps understandably from the point of viewof the oil companies, yet increasing the impression of inaccessibility from thepoint of view of the communities. Oil company workers at remote flow stationstypically live on barges in virtual isolation from local communities, obtainingtheir food, water, and other supplies from company suppliers rather than localretailers. Roads to oil facilities often, if not usually, bypass nearbyvillages; leading to great resentment when, as is often the case, the road tothe flow station is tarred while the road into the village remains a dirttrack. If oil workers fall sick, they are airlifted to company hospitals inPort Harcourt or Lagos; the local people, meanwhile, have little or no healthcare available to them other than traditional remedies.

As a government inquiry concluded in January 1991, there is"a lack of meaningful contact and consultation between the OilCompany/Companies and the Communities in which the Oil Companies operate andtherefore lack of understanding between both parties. Where there is such lackof understanding there is always confusion, disorder and all that makes fordisturbances."[261][261]


It is a constant complaint of communities that they have nopermanent staff working for the oil companies and that not enough casual laboris used. The oil companies respond that it is not possible to employ communitymembers without appropriate qualifications within the company, while there areonly a limited number of jobs available, including casual labor. Theirperspective is that "Many youths who do not have the required skillserroneously believe that it is their birth right, coming from an oil producingarea, to be employed by an oil company or its contractor."[262][262]

It is the stated practice of oil companies and theircontractors to hire unskilled workers on a temporary basis from the communitieswhere construction work or other projects are being carried out. Skilledworkers are in principle hired "on merit." The companies also point toscholarships they fund to enable local community members to get the necessarytraining. Community members point out, however, that scholarships are usuallyallocated to those in favor with the individuals in charge of awarding them,often members of the local elites who benefit from oil company activity, andthat they are mostly restricted to primary school level. Furthermore, due tothe system of patronage that operates, even those with qualifications often donot have opportunities to seek permanent employment with the oil companies,since they have few contacts among senior staff.

Development Projects

Over the last two decades successive Nigerian governmentshave allowed the country's infrastructure to decline. Roads are poorly maintainedand potholed; the national electricity grid provides intermittent power, atbest; water and sewerage systems are in such poor condition as to threaten thepopulation's health; and education and health facilities are understaffed andin disrepair. The Niger Delta is no exception to this state of affairs.Although there are some initiatives by OMPADEC, or by the stateadministrations, these are woefully inadequate to provide even for basic needsof the inhabitants of the region; as they are elsewhere in Nigeria. Whileblaming the military government and its civilian allies for this state ofaffairs, the people of the delta also feel that the oil companies have aresponsibility to develop the communities in which they work, a responsibilityseparate from and not alternative to that owed by the government.

The oil companies claim that they are caught between the oilproducing communities and the federal government, with the communitiesdemanding that the oil companies provide development assistance for them sincethe federal government, which is properly responsible, has not done so. Thefederal government has also made statements that the oil companies should shareresponsibility for development in the areas where they operate: in April 1997,for example, oil minister Etete stated that oil companies should be "sociallyresponsible citizens," and "oil companies' profits should be reinvested inthese communities to alleviate the negative impact of their operations."[263][263]A government-backed judicial inquiry concluded that Shell "does not owe anylegal obligation to the... Community to provide any socio-economic or socialamenities," but emphasized that the company was obliged to pay "adequatecompensation for lands acquired for oil operations and for crops and trees onsuch lands; to pay adequate compensation for damage done to farms by oilspillage/blow-out; to pay adequate compensation for pollution of water, riversand streams by oil spillage and such other liabilities as may be stipulated bylaw." Instead, "the compensations paid for these deprivations are justpittance, meagre pittance, on which the people cannot subsist for even sixmonths, and they become frustrated with life."[264][264]

Although the oil companies maintain that they should not beresponsible for development projects in the oil producing areas, theynonetheless claim to spend substantial amounts of money for the benefit of thelocal communities, in addition to what they see as already adequatecompensation paid for damage caused by oil operations.

SPDC claims to have had an "active community assistanceprogramme" for more than twenty years, although this program involved fairlysmall amounts of money until recently.[265][265]Increasing community unrest led to strategy reviews of SPDC's communityrelations in 1992 and the adoption of its first formal five year "PublicAffairs Plan."[266][266]The plan, clearly developed as a crisis response to the pressures being put onShell domestically and internationally by the campaigns of the Movement for theSurvival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), resulted in the expansion of SPDC'scommunity assistance program and the appointment of a new Health, Safety,Environment and Community Affairs manager. From a level of U.S.$330,000 in1989, according to Shell, the community assistance budget rose to U.S.$7.5million in 1993 and to more than U.S.$36 million in 1996.[267][267]Shell states that its "choice of development projects is essentially based onthe needs of the people and in agreement with their communities,"[268][268]and that, during 1997:

the company provided 71 classroom blocks-therebyputting a roof over the heads of more than 12,500 children. It sponsored 252science teachers in 51 schools in rural areas, which these teachers wouldotherwise have avoided. It played a major role in providing training,organising logistics, supplying syringes, needles and vaccines for theimmunisation of more than 300,000 children against childhood diseases. Itdonated drugs to treat outbreaks of cholera in Ogoniland, and in Bayelsa State.The 14 hospitals supported by the company in the Eastern Division treated some40,000 outpatients, admitted some 3,000 patients, delivered around 600 babies,undertook almost 300 surgeries, and treated over 15,000 children in InfantWelfare Clinics.[269][269]

Local activists and community members counter that theseprojects are achieved more on paper than in reality, and that much of the moneysupposedly spent in fact goes missing, leaving substandard facilities of littleuse to the communities, such as hospitals without water or electricity.[270][270]

Mobil claims to have spent an average of U.S.$8 millionannually on community development projects between 1994 and 1997.[271][271]Between 1990 and 1997, Chevron Nigeria Ltd reports that it spent approximatelyU.S.$28 million on community development and other assistance to its hostcommunities, as "agreed to by the communities and requested of us by thepeople."[272][272]All the oil companies undertake development projects in the communities inwhich they operate, rather than in the oil producing region in general; Mobil,which operates mostly offshore, spends its development budget in the fourclosest local government areas. Elf's annual budget on development projects isstated to be U.S.$4.5 to 5 million per year.[273][273]Agip claims to have invested "more than U.S.$2.5 million a year" over the pastten years in its "Green River Project," and to have provided infrastructure anddevelopment projects, as well as educational scholarships.[274][274]

However, the money spent on "development" in the delta hasbeen largely misspent. In practice, according to community members,contractors, and oil industry employees spoken to by Human Rights Watch, muchdevelopment spending gets diverted into the pockets of oil company employees orlocal contractors or chiefs, or is spent to pay off those who might otherwisebe troublemakers. While school buildings have been erected, and water pumps andpipes installed, much of the money has gone to waste. There is little evidenceof the development of a proper plan for development in consultation with localcommunities as to what their real needs are. In each community the effect hasbeen to create an elite group which has benefitted substantially from thepresence of the oil companies, and a great mass of people who have seen onlydamage to their livelihood. Wholly inappropriate development projects abound,such as an SPDC fish processing plant in Iko, Akwa Ibom State, far from anypotential markets, without electricity to provide cold storage, and without anysuitably qualified local people to run the plant. It stands empty, like manyother projects. Nearby is a small hospital, also built by SPDC, which has norunning water and no toilet; and no patients on the day Human Rights Watchvisited it (though there was a nurse present, and the building did appear to bein good repair generally). Virtually every community in the delta has anon-functioning water or electricity scheme or other project sponsored by oneor other of the oil companies or by OMPADEC and since abandoned. Alternatively,a large and expensive project such as a jetty is provided, not because it is acommunity priority, but because a large contract provides opportunities forequally large rake-offs.[275][275]

Not surprisingly therefore, communities remain dissatisfieddespite the large amounts disbursed: research carried out for SPDC in its areasof operation in the Niger Delta found that 84 percent of the respondents feltthat oil company activitiesadverselyaffected the economies of the host communities and 69 percent felt that therewas a high level of deprivation and neglect.[276][276]

In recent years, Shell has changed the language it uses from"community assistance" to "community development" and has engaged in a reviewof the company's development program. Shell reported to Human Rights Watchthat:

An overall audit of all projects carried out in thepast five years has been recently completed. This audit was independentlyverified by the international audit firm of KPMG: 47% of the projects werefully successful in meeting the needs of the communities, and a further 35%were partially successful in doing so.[277][277]

The success of the projects, as evaluated in this audit,varied by the type of project undertaken: 58 percent of water projects, forexample, were judged unsuccessful, and only 18 percent fully successful; bycontrast 73 percent of agricultural projects were deemed fully successful, andonly 2 percent unsuccessful.[278][278]Human Rights Watch has not itself collected data to enable it to evaluate theaudit. No other oil company operating in Nigeria has reported any similarreevaluation of its development spending.

The Effect of the Oil Economy on Community Politics

The corruption pervading the Nigerian political systemapplies not only to the sums of millions of dollars that can be involved atfederal level, but feeds down into each community in the delta, where oil moneyflows into the hands of local elites in the same way as it does to nationalelites. Contractors working in the oil industry report that oil companyemployees in middle management routinely take a percentage of the value of acontract, effectively selling the contract to the highest bidder-rather thanthe lowest, according to the usual practice of tendering. This system appliesequally to development projects as to contracts directly connected to theconstruction or management of oil facilities: in 1995, a European Shellexecutive was quoted anonymously in the LondonSunday Timesas stating "I would go so far as to say that we spentmore money on bribes and corruption than on community development projects."[279][279]Local contractors, often traditional leaders, in turn take their ownpercentages before passing a share of the benefit of the oil money to their ownsupporters; and so on down the chain. A small elite in each oil producingcommunity thus becomes rich, and is prepared to tolerate the inconveniences ofoil company presence-such as environmental pollution-for the sake of continuedfinancial gain.[280][280]

Because of this relationship, oil companies are always ableto show that some members of the community support their presence. In responseto questions raised by Human Rights Watch relating to the Gbaran oil field, forexample, SPDC carried out its own investigations, which resulted in lettersfrom local traditional leaders copied to Human Rights Watch acknowledgingpayments made by Mife Construction (Nig) Ltd (the contractor for SPDC) towardthe cost of annual festivals. Shell stated that "since the inception of theproject, the overall relationship between the community and MIFE has beencordial."[281][281]Shell also states that the company has been invited by some local leaders toresume its production in Ogoni, closed since major protests took place in 1993.[282][282]Similarly, Chevron stated, in correspondence with Human Rights Watch about aMay 1998 incident when its Parabe platform, offshore from Ondo State, wasinvaded by about 200 youths, that it has always dealt with representativesappointed by the local onshore communities who "completely dissociatedthemselves" from the group known as "Concerned Ilaje Citizens" responsible foroccupying the platform and warned Chevron against dealing with them. Localactivists stated to Human Rights Watch that the representatives cited byChevron are contractors and others who have always cooperated with the oilcompany.[283][283]

Those traditional leaders and contractors who benefit fromthe presence of the oil companies have every interest in their operations, evenif the majority of the people do not. Where respect for such traditionalleaders has not completely broken down, as happened in Ogoni, they often act asintermediaries between the oil companies and the general population in theevent of protest, assisting in the resolution of disputes. Nevertheless, it isalso clear that the great majority of the inhabitants of the oil producing communitiesregard the oil industry with hostility, regarding it as destructive andexploitative, and deeply resenting the wealth of those in the industry or withcontacts to it, compared to the poverty of those who live close by. Those whoare excluded from the system of mutual financial benefit between local elitesand oil company staff become increasingly resentful of their exclusion, andprotests involving closure of flow stations, hostage taking, or occupation ofcompany property result.[284][284]There is a clear correlation between such protests and subsequent provision ofdevelopment projects, and many community members feel that protests aretherefore the only way to get heard.[285][285]Alternatively, individuals hope that if they are able to attract enoughattention they may finally be offered a contract or other sweetener: they arethus themselves coopted into the system.

The presence of oil has also exacerbated political disputesin the delta region over territory or other rights. While territorial disputesin the delta predate the discovery of oil, and while they continue in otherparts of the Nigerian federation, it is undoubtedly the case that many of theconflicts between neighboring communities in the delta are fueled by thepresence of oil. Even though the oil industry is blamed for a range of ills andfor not doing enough for the areas where it operates, communities are alsoaware of the potential benefits of having a pipeline travel through their landor a flow station, and the opportunities for compensation payments andcontracts that will result even if the cash input only reaches a few. Hence,disputes between communities which have been latent can be stirred up by thesuggestion that an oil installation is planned, as well as by damage caused byoil pollution.[286][286]

In a document written in response to allegations over itsrole in the Ogoni crisis, Shell directly addressed this issue, stating that:

[The problems of the Niger Delta] include theprovision of basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, health andeducation; and land and mineral rights. They are further complicated by theresurgence of ethnic conflict between different communities and ethnicgroups-conflicts which, in Nigeria, unfortunately have a long history. Theseethnic conflicts have been well documented by the Nigerian media. They reportthat the reasons behind the conflicts are, to a large extent, disputes betweenneighboring communities over territory. SPDC is in no way involved in suchconflicts. It is totally unjustified to suggest that Shell, by virtue ofendeavoring to carry out its legitimate business of oil exploration andproduction, is in some way responsible for such conflicts or the level of theNigerian government's response to them because of its need to maintain oilproduction.[287][287]

Human Rights Watch documented the involvement of Nigeriansoldiers in attacks on the Ogoni by a neighboring ethnic group, the Andoni,during the height of the Ogoni crisis. The attacks were apparently designed topunish the Ogoni for their resistance to oil production and to justify asecurity crackdown to maintain "law and order" and, hence, oil revenues.[288][288]

Oil production generates conflict on a lesser scale on aregular basis. For example, at Elele-Alimini, in Rivers State, a spill occurredfrom the SPDC Mininta-Rumuekpe pipeline on May 8, 1997. The oil spilled ontoland belonging to two local families, on which a third family from aneighboring village had by tradition rights to keep fishponds. The oildestroyed a large area of forest and the fishponds within it. In discussionsover the incident, it was reportedly alleged by Shell to one of the landholderfamilies that the spill had been caused by sabotage carried out by the tenantfamily, though no evidence was put forward, and tensions between the twovillages had risen as a result.[289][289]Similarly, in July 1997, two rival factions in Igwuruta, Ikwerre localgovernment authority, Rivers State, were reported to have clashed over theaward of contracts by SPDC, causing other residents to flee their homes.[290][290]On February 23, 1998, communities in Onna local government authority, one ofthe communities affected by the Mobil oil spill of January 12, were reported tobe split between factions disputing the right to be acknowledged as thelegitimate negotiators for the people of the area.[291][291]In September 1998, in the Ilaje-Ese-Edo local government area of Ondo State, atleast fifty died and thousands were displaced in armed clashes between Ijaw andIlaje communities laying competing claims to Apata, an oil rig area locatedbetween them. Soldiers and police were deployed to the area by the militaryadministrator of Ondo State, Col. Moses Fasanya.[292][292]

Local community members regularly assert that the oilcompanies use the award of contracts or development projects in a deliberateeffort to divide the communities among and within themselves and thus rule themwithout serious challenge to their operations. Whatever the intentions of thecompanies, division and conflict within and between communities can oftenresult from or be exacerbated by their presence.

The Warri Crisis

One example of the oil industry being caught up in andcontributing to a conflict, and ultimately to violent military or policeaction, was the "Warri Crisis" of 1997. Since before independence there havebeen tensions surrounding the arrangements for the government of the regionsurrounding Warri, the second most important "oil town" after Port Harcourt: inpart, these conflicts arose from British mismanagement or deliberate attemptsto play one ethnic community off against another.[293][293]Like Port Harcourt, Warri is on the border between the dry land and riverineareas of the delta. Warri itself is claimed by the Itsekiri, a small ethnicgroup claimed by some to be of Yoruba origin. To the north, on land, are the Urhobo,related to the Edo-speaking peoples of Benin City. To the south, in the swampyriverine areas, are members of the "Western Ijaw."[294][294]

Violence flared up in Warri in March 1997, over the issue ofthe relocation of a local government headquarters from Ogbe-Ijaw, an Ijaw town,to Ogidigben, an Itsekiri area. Similar local government relocations, carriedout as part of the rearrangement of state and local government in GeneralAbacha's "transition program" supposedly designed to restore civilian rule,caused violent clashes in other parts of Nigeria. From March to May, widespreadclashes continued, in which hundreds of people died on either side.

During the violence, six Shell flow stations were seized bya number of youths on March 22, and 127 SPDC staff held hostage. A seventh flowstation was later also closed down. Shell's output in Nigeria was cut by some210,000 bpd.[295][295]Three people were reported injured during an incident on Monday March 24,although the SPDC staff were eventually released unharmed in stages, the finalbatch on Thursday March 27. In late April, it was reported that a number ofSPDC flow stations in Ogidigben were seized by youths, this time demandingcompensation from SPDC for their grievances, again forcing Shell to stopproduction for several days. As a result of these disturbances, Shell declaredthe suspension of its exports from its Bonny terminal for several days fromApril 1, 1997, on grounds offorcemajeure,[296][296]and again from April 29 till May 28, 1997, of some cargoes from its Forcadosterminal, announcing that there would be delays of several days in loading.[297][297]

A task force was appointed to handle the crisis, headed byBrigadier General Karmasche.[298][298]A dusk to dawn curfew was imposed in March for several weeks, and a fast navyattack ship sent to the area in April. Soldiers were also deployed in Warritown in late April to restore order.[299][299]The Warri refinery was closed for several days during May, when the violenceprevented vessels from reaching the port, although it reopened when the navyprovided escorts for ships loading refined products: the chief of defensestaff, Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (now head of state), assured oilcompanies that ships moving in and out of Warri would have "adequateprotection."[300][300]

The Delta State government under Col. J. Dungs appointed acommission of inquiry into the conflict, chaired by Justice Alhassan Idoko,which met during June and July. Mr. Chukwudozie Okonkwo, a representative ofSPDC, was reported on June 25 to have confirmed to the commission in his oraltestimony that SPDC had given the youths _100,000 (U.S.$1,111) "to look afterthe flow stations" during their occupation.[301][301]Shell confirmed to Human Rights Watch that a sum of _100,000 had been paid, to"people from the community" who were asked to guard the facilities while Shellstaff were not present, and were accordingly paid "the equivalent of the moneythe company would have paid its security personnel at the stations."[302][302]Shell stated repeatedly that the Warri crisis was nothing to do with oilproduction, but rather that "Shell was just there. Invading oil installationswas seen as a good way of bringing attention to protesters' demands."[303][303]"The hostages were released when SPDC agreed to pass on the demands of thoseholding the staff hostage (for the local government headquarters not to berelocated) to the authorities."[304][304]

However, the commission also heard a number of allegationsfrom representatives of the Ijaw and Urhobo communities that both SPDC andChevron unfairly favored the Itsekiri community in handing out contracts andemployment opportunities; in particular, channeling benefits through the Olu ofWarri, Atuwatse II, the Itsekiri leader.[305][305]Shell responded to this allegation by referring to its competitive tenderingprocess, under which "award of contracts is based on value for money,reflecting cost, technical competence, and ability to deliver on time, amongother criteria."[306][306]In meetings with Human Rights Watch, Shell has also stated that in case ofcomplex technical tasks, it can be difficult to find local contractors able tocarry out the project to the required standard. Whatever the truth of theallegations, which are certainly plausible given similar allegations raised incommunities across the oil areas, it is clear that the possible financialreward connected to contracting to the oil industry, in an otherwiseimpoverished region, has great potential to exacerbate tensions betweendifferent communities, thus contributing to the level of violent clashesbetween neighboring villages or ethnic groups in the delta region.

Violence continues in the region to date, leading toclamp-downs by the authorities: the military task force remains deployed.[307][307]In October 1998, a curfew was declared in Warri town by the new militaryadministrator, Navy Commander Walter Feghabor, after at least five people wereshot dead in clashes between Ijaws and Itsekiris and a large number of housesset on fire; violence nevertheless continued, with attacks on leaders of eachcommunity.[308][308]


The oil companies operating in Nigeria have a legitimateinterest in ensuring security for personnel, flow stations, pipelines, andother oil facilities. In recent years, the number of cases of hostage takingand intimidation of oil company staff has increased, as have incidents in whichflow stations are temporarily closed by community members protesting an allegedinjustice; in addition, sabotage certainly does occur, even if the figures arecontested, and the oil companies must try to prevent damage of this kind in orderto protect the environment as well as their own profit. Equally, the Nigeriangovernment has a legitimate interest to exploit its oil resources, to protectthe operations of its joint venture partners, and to ensure that the oilcompanies themselves protect those operations. For these reasons, securityagreements between the oil companies and the Nigerian government areinevitable. If the multinationals are in Nigeria at all, then they must havearrangements or understandings with the Nigerian government for their security;they must also have internal guidelines in relation to the deployment and useof security guards, police or other protection. Human Rights Watch isconcerned, however, at the level of secrecy which surrounds such arrangements.Although the oil companies with which we corresponded gave us some informationabout their security arrangements, all-including Shell, which divulged themost-failed, despite requests, to give us access to the relevant parts of theirMemorandum of Understanding or Joint Operations Agreement with the governmentwhich govern security and the internal guidelinesrelating to protection oftheir facilities.

Security Arrangements for Oil Facilities

All the oil companies in Nigeria hire "supernumerarypolice," sometimes known as "spy police," to protect their installations. Thesepolice are recruited and trained by the Nigerian police force, but paid for bythe oil companies, at rates well above those paid by the Nigerian government.They remain accountable to Nigerian police command structures.[309][309]According to Shell, the supernumerary police deployed at its premises are, ingeneral, unarmed, and patrol inside the perimeter fence of oil installations,with instructions not to attempt to exercise jurisdiction outside the companyproperty. Local activists challenge this statement, stating that the oilcompany police, including those at Shell installations, are frequently armed.As of mid-1997, SPDC stated that it employed 594 supernumerary police, of whichthe company said ten to twenty were armed, after application from Shell to theauthorities for them to do so. In addition, Shell stated to Human Rights Watchthat 186 armed members of the regular Nigerian police force, employed by theNigerian government rather than Shell, were deployed to SPDC facilities,including several dog handlers. Both sets of police officially report to thecommissioner of police and operate according to the procedures and practices ofthe Nigerian police, though SPDC decides where they are to be deployed. If notemployed on "visible duties" some of these police may be in plainclothes,engaged in investigation such as uncovering theft.[310][310]Shell said it has no official policy on engaging informers, though it has "allkinds of links" with the communities where it works, including "surveillanceguards," who are farmers paid to look after pipelines or well heads on theirland. Shell stated that the only private security companies engaged by Shellwork on barriers at entrances to Shell property and similar duties. A largeproportion of Shell staff work on security (including internal duties unrelatedto public order): of a total SPDC 11,372 workforce in mid-1997 (of which 41percent were contractors), 20 percent were security staff.[311][311]

Chevron Nigeria stated in correspondence with Human RightsWatch that it has "a running contract with some private security companies forthe protection of Company assets against theft and to control access to ourpremises. CNL does not have a running contract with any Government Securityagency."[312][312]Mobil only divulged that "Under the Joint Operations Agreement and also in theinterest of Mobil employees, contractors and in order to safeguard ourfacilities against theft and sabotage, we make efforts to provide adequatesecurity facilities in our areas of operations. We do have a securitydepartment."[313][313]Elf did not give any details of its security measures, stating only that "We donot involve the military neither in providing security for our operations norduring demonstrations," and that "EPNL uses landlords and community guards tosecure its well heads and installations."[314][314]In a later letter, Elf stated that these local guards "are supervised by thesite managers. These guards are paid 500% above the national income wage oraccording to the industry standards."[315][315]Agip did not respond to questions about security.

The oil companies state that they are under a legalobligation to notify the government if there is a threat to oil production,though there is some confusion as to the basis for the obligation. When askedthe specific legal provision in meetings with Human Rights Watch, SPDC citedthe Nigerian criminal law of conspiracy, under which, if the company failed tonotify the authorities of actions that could amount to criminal offenses (suchas damage to property), the company itself could be charged with an offense.Chevron, on the other hand, referred to "laws relating to economic sabotage,kidnap, and high sea piracy based on which [the Nigerian government's] agenciesare deployed to oil installations."[316][316]In addition, according to Shell, since the companies operate under jointventure agreements, "the authorities have the right to know when production isthreatened."[317][317]In relation to a specific incident at Chevron's Parabe platform, the companystressed again that it is "required by regulation and agreement to report toour partner when an incident such as the Parabe hostage situation occurs....CNL has no paid soldiers of its own."[318][318]The detailed terms relating to security in the MOUs or JOAs by which the jointventures are governed are not public.

The companies also emphasize their commitment to avoidviolent confrontations between protesters and security forces. In the case ofShell, "We only notify the authorities and we assume responsibility, asoperator, to resolve problems through dialogue and negotiations. In most casesthe authorities do not intervene and, when we become aware that they areconsidering doing so, we prevail on them not to-because the process of dialogueyields results acceptable to both sides."[319][319]Shell states that the company's staff "emphasize to the police the need forrestraint and tact so as to avoid violence."[320][320]Accordingly,

Staff members are not authorized tocall the police tointervene during demonstrations and the use of MOPOL [Mobile Police] or themilitary is prohibited. It is the brief of the CLO [community liaison officer]in such cases to contact the most influential indigenes or organization of thearea to kick off a dialogue. If that fails, the CLO and government relationsofficials of the company go to the Chairman of the Local Government Authorityand to the State Government when necessary. If the case goes beyond the LocalGovernment Authority, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Policeare notified by SPDC as a statutory requirement (but not invited to quell thedemonstration).[321][321]

In another document, Shell has stated that "a call forexternal police protection (i.e. use of police other than those assigned toguard Shell's premises and people) is to be made only as a last resort if thisis necessary in order to protect lives."[322][322]Shell has also stated that the company has "never requested military force forassistance" and would not do so.[323][323]In meetings with Human Rights Watch Shell has stated that its contractors arebound by the same rules relating to security as its own staff. In March 1998,in response to allegations that it had made payments to soldiers protecting anairport construction project at Osubi, Shell admitted using external policeprotection in circumstances short of a threat to life, stating that "Fourteenarmed policemen from the regular Nigerian Police Force are currently on siteprotecting contractor equipment from vandalisation. They were moved to the siteon 8 February during an industrial dispute between the contractor and some ofthe workforce when a threat was made to vandalize a dredger. The dispute wasresolved on 26 February, but the policemen will remain there until it isconsidered that this threat is no longer there. This dispute did not involvethe communities. In fact, the communities helped to resolve the problem. Beforethis industrial dispute, there had been no police at the site."[324][324]

Chevron similarly states that:

In the event of a demonstration, employees and contractorsalike are firstly counseled to remain calm and do nothing that would furtheraggravate a tense situation. All personnel are advised to assemble indesignated safe areas where they would be adequately protected. If thesituation warrants it, work could be shut down and employees evacuated....Employees and contractors are not normally authorised to have direct dealingswith military or civilian authorities in the event of demonstrations.... Anycrisis of such proportion as cannot be managed by the Chevron Security is madeknown to the appropriate government agencies.... Whenever the need to requestfor help arises, CNL Security insists on exercising reasonable control overthose deployed to assist, ensuring that no more than the minimum force requiredto bring a situation under control is applied.[325][325]

According to Mobil's response, "When demonstrations dooccur, we prefer dialogue and resist using any force to settle disputes.... Wedefinitely oppose the use of force by the military or any other authority."[326][326]In this regard, "Employees are instructed to be calm and never engage inphysical force.... We have always prevented any confrontation between oursecurity personnel even when there are demonstrations. We have never supportedthe use of force to handle dispute. Mobil advises the appropriate authoritieswhere violence is a real threat."[327][327]Elf states that "When there is a blockade, protest or demonstrations, CommunityRelations Officers approach the venue peacefully to create an atmosphere fordialogue.... We do everything possible to maintain peace through dialogue ornegotiation, and this has yielded positive results all the time."[328][328]

Shell also maintains that it has on occasion taken politicalrisks in order to avoid confrontation, citing the 1994 strike by oil workersrelated to the previous year's annulment of elections aimed to install acivilian government, during which SPDC "shut in more than half itsproduction... in order to prevent confrontation between security forces andstaff. This was done despite considerable pressure from the government to keepthe oil flowing."[329][329]Similarly, during the Warri crisis, when seven flow stations were closed, itsaid "the company asked the authorities not to intervene by force, but ratherleave it to dialogue with the host communities. As a result, 127 hostages werefreed without any serious incident."[330][330]

Despite requests, none of the oil companies provided HumanRights Watch with copies of internal directions relating to the handling ofprotests or deployment of security, though Shell did confirm in meetings thatsuch documents existed, and states that its guidelines have been reviewedagainst the U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by LawEnforcement Officers, the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials,and the U.N. Pocket Book on Human Rights for the Police.[331][331]Allegations regarding illicit payments to the military or the import of weaponsare described below, in the section on the role and responsibilities of theinternational oil companies.

Special Task Forces

In addition to the regular security arrangements madebetween the oil companies and the Nigerian government, the Nigerian governmenthas created a number of special securityunits and initiatives to protect oilinstallations: oil is the lifeblood of the Nigerian federal government, and anythreat to oil revenues is viewed in the most serious light. The best known ofthese special units is the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, aparamilitary force created in response to the protests led by the Movement forthe Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), with a well-earned reputation forbrutality. The Task Force was now withdrawn to barracks in September 1998, andthe situation in Ogoni greatly improved.

The government regularly emphasizes its commitment to theforceful protection of oil company activities. In August 1996, after arrestingnine youths in connection with sabotage of a Shell pipeline, a press releasefrom the police command in Rivers State warned "community and opinion leadersthat the command will deal ruthlessly with anyone caught."[332][332]In April 1997, oil minister Etete warned local communities that "The presentadministration will not tolerate a situation where every political grievance istaken out on the oil installations and operations of oil companies." Communityleaders should restrain their youths, since "Host communities should relatewith operators in the oil industry as frequent unrests in the oil producingcommunities are not conducive to sustainable development[sic]."[333][333]In March 1998, Etete again stated that destruction of oil company propertywould meet "the full wrath of the law," emphasizing the identity of interestsbetween the government and the oil companies by stating that "the oil jointventure companies are partners of government; any destruction of theirequipment is like destroying government property."[334][334]In September 1998, the coordinator of the "Naval Information Unit," Lt.-Cdr.Kabiru Aliyu stated that the navy would deal with any youths involved in attackson oil installations as "economic saboteurs" and that they would be "decisivelydealt with."[335][335]

In August 1997, the government of Bayelsa State announcedthe formation of a new security outfit known as "Operation Salvage," with theaim of protecting oil installations.[336][336]Press reports stated that the announcement was in the presence of oil companyrepresentatives. However, Shell stated to Human Rights Watch that "SPDC was notpresent at the announcement of the formation of the Bayelsa Security Task Force.However, we and other companies operating in the area were subsequently invitedto a meeting with the State Government to discuss the matter and to sign aproposed memorandum of understanding (MOU). At the meeting we were informedthat the primary purpose of the task force was crime prevention, although arole in protecting oil facilities was also mentioned. For that reason, SPDCrefused to sign the MOU."[337][337]

A similar unit, named "Operation Flush," has beenestablished in Rivers State. Special anti-crime task forces, with names such as"Operation Sweep" or "Operation Storm," exist in other (non-oil producing)states, and have reputations as being among the most abusive Nigerian securityforce outfits. In December 1997, it was reported that the federal governmentwas planning to establish a new naval base in Bayelsa State, "in view of theeconomic importance of the state"; in March 1998, the minister for internalaffairs also stressed the need for "increased security operations" in RiversState; in April 1998, the Delta State military administrator suggested thecreation of a national coast guard, comprising the army, navy, airforce,police, customs and related agencies, to police the delta, "especially economicactivities"; in November 1998, the government once again promised to "beef up"security in the oil areas, and it was reported that several hundred soldiers,including a number recently returned from peacekeeping duties in Sierra Leone,had been deployed to the delta, while the Nigerian navy would also be fortifiedto prevent disruptions to production.[338][338]On December 30, 1998, as Ijaw youths protested at several locations across thedelta, both army and navy deployed large numbers of personnel, reported as upto 15,000, into the region.[339][339]


While all the oil companies that responded to Human RightsWatch's request for information stated that their policy was always to opposethe use of force against protesters at oil installations, the response from themilitary regime has been invariably repressive when community members attemptto demand better treatment from the government or the international oilcompanies. The following section describes well known protests, including thecampaign by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), as wellas lesser known attempts to obtain compensation by local communities, and theresponse from the security forces to these actions. While information relatingto the oil companies' response is included, where available, the next chapterconsiders the role and responsibilities of the oil companies in more detail.


On October 30 and 31, 1990, a protest took place at Shell'sfacility at Umuechem, east of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, that led to thepolice killing some eighty unarmed demonstrators and destroying or badlydamaging 495 houses. This incident was the first to bring the situation in theNiger Delta to international attention, and remains the most serious loss oflife directly involving oil company activities. Youths from the Umuechemcommunity demanded provision of electricity, water, roads, and othercompensation for oil pollution of crops and water supplies. On October 29,1990, the divisional manager of SPDC's eastern division had written to the RiversState commissioner of police to request "security protection," with apreference for the paramilitary Mobile Police, in anticipation of an "impendingattack" on SPDC's facilities in Umuechem allegedly planned for the followingmorning.[340][340]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 ofwhich was sent to the commissioner of police. On October 31, Mobile Policeattacked peaceful demonstrators with teargas and gunfire. They returned at 5a.m. the next day, shooting indiscriminately, in a purported attempt to locatethree of their members who had not returned the previous evening. A judicialcommission of inquiry established by the government found no evidence of athreat by the villagers and concluded that the Mobile Police had displayed "areckless disregard for lives and property."[341][341]No compensation has been awarded for the attack to those whose relatives werekilled or homes destroyed; nor have the perpetrators been brought to justice.[342][342]

The Ogoni Crisis

The most significant effort to target oil production in anattempt to highlight minority grievances has been that led by the Movement forthe Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), founded in 1990 by leaders of theOgoni ethnic group, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known author who became itsspokesperson. In August 1990 MOSOP adopted an "Ogoni Bill of Rights," whichlisted the grievances of the Ogoni people and demanded "political autonomy toparticipate 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 Ogonieconomic resources for Ogoni development." MOSOP's political demands weretargeted at the Nigerian federal government, but it also accused Shell of "fullresponsibility for the genocide of the Ogoni."[343][343]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 itsdemands to Shell, Chevron, and NNPC, the partners in the joint venturesoperating in Ogoni, together with an ultimatum to pay back royalties andcompensation within thirty days or quit Ogoni.

On January 4, 1993, at the start of the U.N.'s InternationalYear of the World's Indigenous Peoples, MOSOP held a mass rally in Ogoniattended by hundreds of thousands of people-one half or more of the total Ogonipopulation. Mobilization continued throughout the year, and MOSOP decided,controversially, to boycott the June 12, 1993 elections. Shell withdrew itsstaff from Ogoni in January 1993 and ceased production at its facilities there(about 3 percent of its total production in Nigeria) in mid-1993, citingintimidation of its staff. Active Shell pipelines continue to cross Ogoni,however, carrying oil produced at other oil fields.[344][344]

This demonstration of organized political opposition to bothgovernment and oil companies resulted in a military crackdown in Ogoni. KenSaro-Wiwa and other MOSOP leaders were detained several times during 1993. ARivers State Internal Security Task Force, a military unit, was created inJanuary 1994 specifically to deal with the Ogoni crisis. In May 1994, followingthe brutal murder by a mob of youths of four prominent Ogoni leaders, who hadbeen associated with a faction of MOSOP that had differed with Saro-Wiwa on theorganization's tactics and strategy and had been regarded by some in MOSOP asgovernment collaborators, the repression of MOSOP activities intensified. KenSaro-Wiwa and several other Ogoni activists were immediately arrested inconnection with the four murders, despite a lack of credible evidence toconnect them to the deaths. In 1995, Human Rights Watch published a report onthe Ogoni crisis which documented detentions, harassment, and extrajudicialexecutions of MOSOP activists by the Task Force and other security force units,as well as security force involvement in violent clashes between the Ogoni andneighboring ethnic groups.[345][345]Sixteen members of the MOSOP leadership were put on trial for the May 1994murders, and nine, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, were eventually convicted andsentenced to death by a special tribunal established for the case, whoseprocedures blatantly violated international standards of due process.[346][346]One leading jurist concluded:

The judgement of the Tribunal is not merely wrong,illogical or perverse. It is downright dishonest. The Tribunal consistentlyadvanced arguments which no experienced lawyer could possibly believe to belogical or just. I believe that the Tribunal first decided on its verdicts andthen sought for arguments to justify them. No barrel was too deep to bescraped.[347][347]

Without the right to an appeal, the "Ogoni Nine" wereexecuted 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 itsdriving force. Twenty former activists in MOSOP, who were detained at varioustimes in 1994 and 1995, were held in Port Harcourt prison, in deterioratinghealth, until September 1998, charged with murder in connection with thekillings of May 1994 for which Ken Saro-Wiwa and his codefendants were hanged.[348][348]They were held under a "holding charge" before a magistrates court, since thegovernment did not reconstitute the special tribunal before which the earliertrial was held.[349][349]Hundreds of other Ogonis have been held in detention for periods ranging from afew hours or days to several months over the last few years. Nevertheless,protests continued at a lower pitch over the following years, and Ogoniactivists 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 toeyewitnesses about several cases in which individuals marked as MOSOP activistshad been extrajudicially executed, beaten, or detained by members of thesecurity forces. In raids by the security forces on houses where such activistslive, police or soldiers often assaulted all members of the householdindiscriminately. 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 homeof an activist, burst into his bedroom and beat him and his wife severely. Theystripped them both naked, and then went to a nearby compound where the wife'smother lived, teargassed the premises and beat the mother also. The wife, whowas pregnant, was admitted to the village clinic for two weeks, suffering frominternal bleeding as a result of her injuries. Her mother was treated bytraditional medicine, but was unable to stand up properly for two months, andwas still unable to carry heavy objects when Human Rights Watch interviewed hernine months later. The husband was detained for several months.[350][350]

In many cases, the eyewitnesses spoken to by Human RightsWatch knew the names of those who had carried out the killings or beatings, whoare notorious for similar assaults in Ogoni. Despite this, there was noprospect of bringing the perpetrator to justice; lawyers in the community weretoo frightened to assist victims in civil cases, while the chances of internaldisciplinary proceedings within the security forces were virtually zero. Whilethe situation in Ogoni has improved in recent months, the chances of redressfor past violations remain slim. In a rare case in which disciplinary actionwas promised, Maj. Obi Umahi, commander of the Rivers State Internal SecurityTask Force, said that he would bring a soldier before a court martial inconnection 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 byoffering the family money in return for not speaking to the press.[351][351]Nothing further has been reported in relation to whether any disciplinaryaction was in fact instituted. Often, when people are killed by the securityforces, the body is not released to the family. Several of those Human RightsWatch spoke to had petitioned the commissioner of police or Major Umahi incases where members of their family had been killed, but they had beenintimidated to such an extent that they had given up even seeking release ofthe 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 rightsactivists in the region, the Internal Security Task Force began a fresh roundupof suspected activists in late December. On January 3 and 4, several tens ofpeople were detained, and arrests continued during the following days. OnJanuary 3, Batom Mitee, the brother of Ledum Mitee, who was tried with KenSaro-Wiwa but acquitted, was detained at his hotel in Bori, the main Ogonitown. Eyewitnesses reported that he had been severely beaten with rifle buttsand electric cables, as had Tombari Gioro, who was detained with him. MOSOPreported that two people were killed by security forces around Ogoni Day:Beatrice Nwakpasi, who was shot when soldiers opened fire into a group of dancingpeople on January 4; and Daniel Naador, who was arrested and beaten, and diedon January 17 as a result of his injuries.[352][352]

MOSOP reported that on March 22, 1998, members of the RiversState Internal Security Task Group and Operation Flush, an anti-crime unit inRivers State, raided Ledum Mitee's residence in Port Harcourt and ransacked theentire 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, andTombari Gioro, together with a number of other Ogonis, remained in detentionuntil May 1998.[353][353]

Following the death of General Abacha in June 1998, thesituation in Ogoni improved significantly. Nevertheless, MOSOP reported aseries of new raids by the Internal Security Task Force in Sogho community onAugust 5, 6 and 7. A seventy-three year old man, Michael Nkpagayee, was said tohave been severely beaten on August 6 and died on August 10 from his injuries.At least fourteen others were injured during the attack, including afourteen-year-old boy whose leg was broken, and five were detained in Borimilitary camp.[354][354]

On September 7, 1998, the twenty Ogonis held on "holdingcharges" in connection with the 1994 murders were released unconditionally, andother detainees soon after.[355][355]On September 12, the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force was withdrawn tobarracks (including military camps within Ogoni), and on September 15, ademonstration of several thousand Ogonis went ahead without incident. At theend of October 1998, Ledum Mitee, acting president of MOSOP, returned to Ogonifrom exile in Britain. On November 10, tens of thousands of Ogonis publiclycommemorated the third anniversary of the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and hiseight co-defendants, for the first time able to do so in public: Mitee calledfor Shell to "clean up the mess you have made by Ogoni Day January 4, 2000, orclear out once and for all."[356][356]

Attempts to Duplicate the MOSOP Protests

Across the Niger Delta, local people mention the name of KenSaro-Wiwa with respect and admiration and ask how they can duplicate thesuccess of MOSOP in closing down oil production in the Ogoni area. A variety ofdifferent ethnic associations have made representations to the government ofNigeria and the oil companies, presenting demands for recognition of theirparticular problems. Several of these associations have made explicit referenceto the Ogoni situation.[357][357]While similar associations have demanded recognition since at least the time ofthe debates leading up to Nigerian independence in 1960, the more recentdemands have been noticeably radicalized by MOSOP's own bill of rights. Noother group has yet managed to match the cohesion and organization of MOSOP.However, the problems of communication and mobilization are much greater forthe people living in the riverine areas than for the Ogonis, on dry land andonly a half-hour by bus from Port Harcourt.

In October 1992, for example, the Movement for the Survivalof the Izon (Ijaw) Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) presented an"Izon People's Charter" to "the government and people of Nigeria." The charterincluded an extensive discussion of state creation since independence and ofthe revenue allocation formulae applied to oil income, and demandedcompensation for the oil revenue derived from their territory, as well as"political autonomy as a distinct and separate entity"outside the Nigerianstate, with rights to control and use of oil, gas and other resources, based onagreements during the constitutional discussions leading up to independence andpre-colonial agreements with the British.

Similarly, on November 1, 1992, fifty-two traditionalleaders from the Ogbia (an Ijaw subgroup, in whose territory the first Nigerianoil well at Oloibiri is situated) signed the Charter of Demands of the OgbiaPeople, drafted by the Movement for Reparation to Ogbia (Oloibiri) (MORETO).The demands listed include the repeal of the constitutional provisions givingownership of minerals to the federal government and "a restoration of ourrights to at least 50% of oil exploited in our land"; payment to the landlordsof the area "all rents and royalties from the revenue from our crude oil since1956," an amount "conservatively estimated at £226.5 billion"; the payment of"the sum of £35.5 billion for the restitution of our environment and devastatedecology and for our development and protection against future effects of oilexploitation."[358][358]

In August 1997, over a thousand people joined a rally atAleibiri, Bayelsa State, for the launch of a new movement, Chikoko, named afterthe term for the soil the mangrove grows in. Unlike similar organizations, theChikoko Movement aims to unite different ethnic groups, rather thanrepresenting one in particular. It describes itself as "a representative massorganisation for the defence of the rights of the ethnic minority nationalitiesin the rich Niger Delta Area," standing for the "struggling unity of theseethnic 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 Movementcalls for "the right to self-determination of the constituent ethnicnationalities of Nigeria to be recognised and enshrined in a new democraticNigerian constitution," and "an immediate end to all environmentally damagingeconomic activities by Trans-national oil corporations in the Niger DeltaArea," as well as the "abrogation of all obnoxious laws like the Land UseDecree and the Petroleum Decree that rob our people of the right to control ourland and mineral resources for sustainable development of our area."[359][359]

In December 1998, a gathering of Ijaw youths from differentcommunities adopted a "Kaiama Declaration" which stated that "All land andnatural resources (including mineral resources) within the Ijaw territorybelong to Ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival" and demanded "theimmediate withdrawal from Ijawland of all military forces of occupation andrepression by the Nigerian state." Accordingly, "Any oil company that employsthe services of the armed forces of the Nigerian state to ‘protect' itsoperations will be viewed as an enemy of the Ijaw people." The meeting "agreedto remain within Nigeria but to demand and work for Self Government andresource control for the Ijaw people.... the best way for Nigeria is afederation of ethnic nationalities. The federation should be run on the basisof equality and social justice."[360][360]On January 1, 1999, the Ijaw Youths Council formed at Kaiama launched"Operation Climate Change, a programme of direct action [which] will involveactivities aimed at extinguishing gas flares," by January 10, 1999.

Targeting of Community Leaders and EnvironmentalWhistle-blowers

Potential or actual community leaders from human andenvironmental organizations, and especially from political movements attemptingto organize resistance to the oil industry, have faced regular harassment fromthe authorities.[361][361]While the situation for well-known activists has improved since GeneralAbubakar 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."[362][362]The following are examples of the many incidents of detention of activists fromthe delta region over the last few years.

•NnimmoBassey, director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA), one of the mostoutspoken groups criticizing oil company activities, was detained from June 5to July 19, 1996, in Lagos, after being picked up at the international airportwhile on his way to an environmental conference in Ghana. He was detained againon October 26, 1997, and held for two days, after being picked up at theairport while returning from an environmental conference in Ecuador. Hispassport was retained by the State Security Service (SSS) on his release.

•Godwin UyiOjo, 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 hispossession.

•PatrickNaagbanton of the Rivers Coalition and the Rivers State chapter of the CivilLiberties Organization and Uche Ukwukwu of the Niger Delta Human andEnvironmental Rescue Organization (ND-HERO), both activists protesting abusesin the delta region, including by the oil companies, were detained fromNovember 7 to 17, 1996, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where they were distributingleaflets calling on students to commemorate the anniversary of the execution ofthe Ogoni Nine. Other members of ND-HERO were beaten or detained for shorterperiods in Port Harcourt during the same period.

•BariaraKpalap, director of programs for ND-HERO and an Ogoni, was arrested on October13, 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 CommunitiesDevelopment Organisation and spokesperson for four communities which had won anaward 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 washeld overnight and released.

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

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

•Isaac Osuoka, an activist with ERAseconded to coordinate the African section of Oil Watch, an internationalcoalition of organizations protesting the effects of oil company operations onthe communities in which they operate, was arrested on May 26, 1998, while hewas attending a conference of the African Forest Action Network in Lagos, andwas held until June 26. On May 28, Bamidele Aturu, a lawyer contracted by ERAon Osuoka's behalf, was also arrested as he attempted to secure bail for hisclient at Surulere police station, Lagos; he was released on June 8.[363][363]

The offices of human rights, environmental, and othernongovernmental organizations in Port Harcourt and other towns in the regionwere regularly raided under the Abacha government-as in Lagos and elsewhere inNigeria. Members of the State Security Service (SSS) visited the offices of theInstitute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law on dozens of occasions during1997 and 1998, often confiscating materials from the office. The offices ofEnvironmental Rights Action in Port Harcourt and Benin City have also been thesubject of SSS raids, as have the offices of ND-HERO and the residence of Dr.M.T. Akobo, chairman of the Southern Minorities Movement. In February 1998,Felix Tuodolo, energy and climate change project officer with ERA, was evictedfrom his home on the grounds of security force harassment of others living inthe same compound. On occasion, the security forces have also arrested, beatenor intimidated relatives of activists: in November 1997, the mother and sisterof Ogoni student activist Sunny Kogbo were detained in the days before theanniversary of the 1995 executions. Even development organizations not involvedin any sort of political activism have in the past been threatened by a visitfrom the security forces. The same process operates at all levels: a chief inObite, who by his own admission took a "low profile" but had been educated inEurope and the U.S. and was therefore regarded as a potential spokesperson byhis community, described how his house had been searched by police a few monthsbefore we interviewed him, on the allegation that he was handling firearms andstolen goods. Some of his possessions had been taken away but later returned.[364][364]

Foreigners visiting the oil producing communities,especially whites, who are conspicuous, are automatically suspicious. In May1998, Shelley Braithwaite, a visiting doctoral student based in the U.K., wasquestioned in Ogbia town in the Niger Delta, after spending a day collectingwater and soil samples from the surrounding creeks. Members of the StateSecurity Service and uniformed police spent one hour attempting to find out herpurpose 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 whitepeople who come to the area want to cause trouble for the oil industry."[365][365]

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

•In July 1997,at the launch of the Chikoko movement, five journalists from the Nigerian presswere arrested at Ogbia town and questioned for several hours (Joseph Ollor-Obariof theGuardian,Doifie Ola of thePost Express, Wisdom Dike ofThe Week, Casmir Igbokwe ofTempo/PM News, and Tokunbo Awosakin ofThis Day). The rally was relocated toAleibiri as a result of the security crackdown.

•In March1998, Chidi Nkwopara, Imo State correspondent for theNational Concord, and Donatus Njoku, a reporter with theStatesmanwere arrested while visitingAgip's Akri flow station in Oguta, Imo State, to investigate a blow out whichtook place on March 6, reportedly damaging a large area of land. They weredetained overnight and allegedly accused of espionage.[366][366]

•On March 9,1998, Sam Akpe, a journalist with the Akwa Ibom State government-ownednewspaper, theWeekend Pioneer, wasreported to have suspended without pay on the orders of the militaryadministrator after writing an article in the March 6 edition entitled "TheSpill Continues" about the effects of the January Mobil spill. Akpe was alsoaccused of taking bribes from Mobil, in what he claimed to be a groundlesscampaign to discredit him.[367][367]

Day-to-day Protest and Repression in the Oil ProducingCommunities

Virtually every oil producing community-on the basis ofHuman Rights Watch's own investigations and on reports from human rights andenvironmental activists working in the region-has experienced an incident alongthe following lines. Community members stage a protest demanding compensationfor oil company activities (often stated to have been promised in prioragreements) in the form of cash, development projects, or employment, orcalling for environmental cleanup; in response to the protest, members of theMobile Police or other security forces come to the scene; the security forcescarry out indiscriminate beatings, arrests and detentions; the protest is thenabandoned. In some cases, oil companies have apparently responded to thedemands to some extent, in others they have been ignored. This cycle remainsthe same today.

As an indication of the frequency with which oil companiesface serious protests at their activities, the following incidents resultingfrom community demands of oil companies were reported in the internationalpress. 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 acomplete record: Human Rights Watch has not been able to investigate thesedisturbances itself.

•In March1997, youths captured a barge delivering goods to a Chevron installation. Thecrew of seventy Nigerians and twenty expatriates were held hostage for threedays by youths demanding jobs on the vessel. Following negotiations, in whichmoney was paid to the protesters, the barge was allowed to go offshore, whenthe navy then boarded it and rescued the hostages.[368][368]

•In August1997, the Iyokiri community in Rivers State blocked access to SPDC employeesseeking to repair a leak, demanding compensation be paid first, causing threeflow stations to be closed for several days.[369][369]

•In September1997, the 10,000 bpd Diebu flow station in Bayelsa State was closed for severalweeks as a result of a dispute with the Peremabiri community which wasdemanding compensation for fishing nets damaged by an oil spill in June.[370][370]

•In October1997, the Odeama flow station in Bayelsa state was closed for several days byyouths demanding that fifty of them be employed by SPDC.[371][371]

•In October1997, youths in Gelegele village, near Warri, Delta State, halted productionfor several days at a well yielding up to 2,000 bpd operated by Dubri OilCompany, an indigenous Nigerian operator. The youths were protesting the effectof the gas flaring on their village.[372][372]

•In November1997, Nigerian opposition radio reported that about 3,000 people from Ekakpamrevillage near Ughelli in Delta State had forced the closure of Ughelli West flowstation for several days, demanding _20 million (U.S.$222,000) compensation forencroachment on their land, a new access road and other projects. Shellconfirmed that about 6,500 bpd had been shut in by the protest.[373][373]

•From November25 to December 23, 1997, Tunu and Opukoshi flowstations, together pumping80,000 bpd, were closed by villagers, forcing Shell to declare on December 19that it would be unable to meet all commitments on time at its Forcadosterminal from December 21, to January 11.[374][374]

•From December13 to December 17, 1997, thirteen employees of Western Geophysical were heldhostage by youths in a barge off the coast of Ondo State.[375][375]

•Odeama Creekflowstation, pumping 18,000 bpd, was closed for several days in January 1998 byyouths demanding environmental tests, a reduction of gas flaring, clean watersupply and other projects from Shell.[376][376]

•From January20, 1998, Texaco's offshore Funiwa platform was occupied for about one week byyouths from the neighboring Koluama community, shutting in about 55,000 bpd.[377][377]

•In March1998, SPDC reported that it had shut in 200,000 bpd at its Tora manifold in theNembe area, after youths had protested calling for compensation, jobs anddevelopment projects.[378][378]

•From March 10to 20, 1998, Texaco's Funiwa platform was again occupied for over a week byyouths from Koluama, causing an eleven day slippage in the export loadingschedule from the Pennington terminal.[379][379]

•From April 28to May 11, 1998, Shell's flowstations at Odidi and Egwa in Delta State wereclosed by protesting youths.[380][380]

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

Since the death of Gen. Sani Abacha in June 1998, therelaxation of repression signaled by the withdrawal of the Internal SecurityTask Force from Ogoni, and the institution of a more credible program to handover power to civilian government by new head of state Gen. AbdulsalamiAbubakar, oil stoppages have escalated. At the end of August 1998, Nigeria waslosing 800,000 bpd, and disruption continued at high levels for the rest of theyear; though operators were able to compensate by boosting output elsewhere andoverall production in fact increased from July to November.[381][381]

•In June,1998, villagers protesting a spillage closed four wells and disrupted exportsfrom Agip's Brass terminal, and the military administrator of Bayelsa Statedeclared a curfew.[382][382]Exports were stopped again due to protests in August.[383][383]

•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 theevacuation of staff.[384][384]60,000 bpd production from Nembe was again closed for several days in August.[385][385]

•In late Julyand August, 1998, a number of workers were held hostage for several weeks ontwo oil support vessels working for Texaco to repair wells producing 3,000 bpdat the Okubie platform, near the community of Kolomo, in connection withdisputes over compensation payments following a leak which had affected thecoastline of six communities. Further hostage taking incidents occurred inAugust.[386][386]

•Disturbancesat Nembe shut in at least 440,000 bpd of output and forced both Shell and Agipto declareforce majeureon exportsin early October 1998.[387][387]Ten Shell facilities, producing about 200,000 bpd, were still shut in as ofmid-November.[388][388]

•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. FifteenShell flow stations remained closed for much of the following month.[389][389]

•On October14, youths seized control of two Chevron flow stations, at Abiteye and OleroCreek, near Escravos on the Atlantic coast, taking some thirty workers hostagefor two days.[390][390]

•From November12 to 18, eight oil workers employed by Texaco were held hostage by youths fromthe community of Foropah, near Warri, demanding social investment in theirvillage and compensation for a recent oil spill.[391][391]

•On December9, youths again occupied Shell's Forcados terminal protesting the Mobil spill,but were removed one day later.[392][392]

The incidents described below were investigated by HumanRights Watch in July 1997 and are described in chronological order, togetherwith information Human Rights Watch has received relating to more recentincidents from 1998. In each case, the oil company involved was invited tocomment on our findings, and any information supplied is incorporated in ouraccount. Although the overall political climate in Nigeria has changeddramatically since these cases were investigated, the situation in the deltacommunities has changed little, and incidents of the type described herecontinue to occur on a regular basis.

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

In many incidents, oil companies describe protests by localyouths as purely criminal in purpose, aimed at extorting benefits to which theyare not entitled from the oil industry. These same incidents are described bythe youths involved as a fight for their rights. According to Chevron, forexample, "In some cases, the youths simply try to extort money from personnelworking on barges and drilling rigs without reason or based on some fabricatedexcuse."[393][393]Thus, "Because of the level of poverty in most of the remote areas, thereare... many cases of unscrupulous claims for compensation for damages thatcannot be substantiated."[394][394]While Chevron identifies the disproportion between the wealth of the oilcompany and the poverty of the oil producing areas as an important contributorto conflict, it sees the protests that result as criminal only. The youths whomake what Chevron describes as "unscrupulous" claims put it differently: "Wehave committed ourselves to the fight against environmental degradation, socialand economic injustice in our land. Chevron pays soldiers to kill us and hasbribed the police to keep us away."[395][395]Or, more generally, "When we demand our rights, they [the oil companies] justsend the Mobile Police."[396][396]

Suppression of Demands for Compensation:
Damages, Development Projects, and Employment

During June and July 1995, there were major disturbances inEgbema, Imo State, after youths demonstrated against Shell, demanding, amongother issues, the installation of a gas turbine to supply electricity for thecommunity. The first protest happened on June 14 and 15, when youths occupiedthe residential area at the flow station for two days. Youths interviewed byHuman Rights Watch admitted that a certain amount of property was stolen fromthe flow station at this point, mostly bedding and food. Two weeks later afurther protest took place, when community members marched to the gate of theShell premises, which by this time were guarded by a large number of MobilePolice.[397][397]The police responded violently to this protest, carrying out indiscriminatebeatings and arrests and using teargas freely. Many were beaten who were notinvolved in the protest but were simply passersby. More than thirty people werearrested, of whom about eight were women, and some were teenagers. They weredetained at Owerri for one to three weeks, and charged with sabotage, thoughthe case was later adjourned indefinitely. A number of Mobile Police remainedstationed in the community for several months. In response to Human RightsWatch'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 theGovernor."[398][398]While there are always differences of interpretation of events, this incidentwas clearly a major event in the life of the community, and Human Rights Watchfinds it extraordinary that SPDC has no knowledge of the arrests. Since 1995,SPDC has undertaken a number of development projects in the area, including theinitiation of a youth training scheme organized through the chief.[399][399]

On August 24, 1995, conflict between a Shell contractor anda local community over employment opportunities led to the killing of a teacherat 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 protestagainst Shell, and in 1995 the village of Iko was still badly affected by amalfunctioning flare which was flooded by salt water at high tide, allowingsalt from sea water to be vaporized and shot out over the village, killingvegetation and corroding sheet metal roofing.[400][400]In August 1995, Western Geophysical, a seismic survey company, came to thenearby Utapete flow station, close to the Atlantic coast, to carry out athree-dimensional survey on behalf of SPDC.[401][401]According to community members, the company was approached to seek employmentfor local people in carrying out the survey: villagers reported to Human RightsWatch that representatives of Western Geophysical accordingly came to thevillage accompanied by a number of naval officers and negotiations took placewith community leaders in the chief's house. Eyewitnesses described how, sometime after the Western Geophysical representatives had left, a detachment ofMobile Police came to the community, fired teargas and beat people at random.During this incident, a school teacher from the village, Emmanuel Nelson, whohad been interpreting during the meeting, was beaten to death. Up to twentypeople were detained, beaten, and put in police vehicles, although they werereleased at the next village, on the appeal of two senior members of thecommunity.[402][402]

Shell, responding to Human Rights Watch on the basis ofinformation it stated was supplied by Western Geophysical, described theincident differently. According to Shell, youths seized three vehiclesbelonging to Western Geophysical on August 23, and on August 24 blocked themain access road, and detained four of seven boats, in order "to highlighttheir displeasure over the number of job opportunities allocated to theircommunity by the contractors." As a result of this situation, WesternGeophysical asked the navy to try to recover their boats and to guard theirhouseboats; 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.[403][403]Furthermore, the company states that the Mobile Police were called in by thenavy, not by SPDC or Western Geophysical, and arrived in Iko "some five and ahalf hours after the navy had been informed of the incident." WesternGeophysical confirmed that they had been approached for assistance in theburial and transport of a body, but "this request was denied as we believe thatthis incident is unrelated to Western's seismic activities."[404][404]

Human Rights Watch spoke to several eyewitnesses whodescribed the beating to death of Emmanuel Nelson on August 24, 1995, andbelieves their accounts to be accurate, and that the death was closely linkedto Western Geophysical's activities near the village. Furthermore, regardlessof any acts of force, such as boat seizures, carried out by local youths, it isclear that the response of the security forces to the dispute between thecommunity and Shell's contractor was indiscriminate violence against thecommunity as a whole. There are no allegations that Emmanuel Nelson himself wasinvolved in any illegal activity. No protest at this violence was apparentlylodged withthe authorities by Western Geophysical or Shell, although thesecurity force presence in the village was directly related to WesternGeophysical's request for assistance.

In September 1995, a youth from Elele, Rivers State, whereElf operates several wells, went to speak to Saipem, a contractor for Elf, onbehalf of his family on whose land one of Elf's wells was located. The familybelieved 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 theyouth was delegated to make representations on their behalf. The publicrelations representative for Saipem told the youth that he should go to speakto Elf; but while the meeting was going on, three soldiers came to the caravanwhere the meeting was taking place and took the youth to the nearby militarycantonment, where he was detained two days and severely beaten. When he wasreleased he spent two weeks in hospital. The family stated that arepresentative from Elf's offices in Port Harcourt did later come to the siteto discuss the company's relationship with the family concerned, but thatnothing was done for them and no steps were taken by Elf to intervene with themilitary in respect of the injuries the youth sustained.[405][405]

In early 1996, a spillage took place at Uheri, Isoko Southlocal government area, Delta State, for which compensation was agreed. Therewas 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 ofyouths protested at the flow station, telling the workers there to stopproduction. Federal police came from the divisional police station and arrestedsix of the dozen youths involved, held them overnight at the police station andreleased them the next day. According to Shell, the spill was reported to ChiefIdu Amadi, chair of the local government authority, who requested theintervention of the police "apparently because he was irritated and embarrassedby the youths' failure to dialogue with SPDC."[406][406]

Human Rights Watch interviewed a number of youths fromYenezue-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 toldsoldiers posted to provide security to Mife to take the youths to the mainconstruction camp, supposedly to see if employment was available. The soldierstook the youths to the camp, but then told them to strip, forced them to crawlon the road, and beat them with electric cable. They were then taken to thepolice station in Yenagoa, detained for several hours, until community memberscame to release them, paying _1,500 (U.S.$17) each for their release. Theyspent two days in hospital recovering from their injuries. Community membersstated that the case had been reported to Shell, although no court case hadbeen opened or compensation received as a result of this incident.[407][407]According to Shell, "soldiers have never been used on this project site," andthe company has no knowledge of "incidents of assault, detention and rape,"although "due to community hostilities, the contractor asked for the servicesof Nigeria Police through the Divisional Police at Yenagoa to protect life andproperty."[408][408]Human Rights Watch confirmed with local residents interviewed that the securitydetail present at the site were soldiers and not police. In any event, seniorShell management was apparently unaware of the serious assaults on sevenyouths.

In Egbema, Rivers State, which neighbors Egbema, Imo State,community members came together in 1996 to demand that Agip, the operator of aflow station close to the village, provide electricity to the village. Thedelegation was led by Chief COB Aliba, and met with Agip's community relationsofficer, who stated that it would be too expensive to purchase the necessarytransformer. Following the meeting, youths from the village, dissatisfied withthe result, began impounding Agip vehicles as they passed through thecommunity. While the matter was still under negotiation, members of the RiversState Internal Security Task Force, led by Major Umahi, came to Chief Aliba'shouse and arrested him, with nineteen others, taking them to one of the TaskForce's premises in Ogoni. They were held two weeks from June 26, 1996, andreleased without charge upon petition from other community members. Communitymembers said that they believed that the Task Force, which is usually deployedin Ogoni, several hours drive away, must have been summoned at the request ofAgip.[409][409]Agip did not respond to inquiries about this incident.

On January 4, 1997, Prince Ugo, the secretary of the Umugoyouth association in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Authority in RiversState went looking for work to the Obite gas project construction site, whichwill collect associated gas from Elf's Obagi oil field to feed into theNigerian LNG project (a joint venture between NNPC, Shell, Elf and Agip; thesite 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 upto one hour, at his own estimation, by several members of the Mobile Policestationed at the site, and subsequently locked in one of the trailers at thesite for several hours. He was released after elders from the community and thechair of the youth association pleaded for him: several other youths from thearea had also recently been beaten or detained by Mobile Police stationed atthe LNG project. He reported the incident to the police station, but althoughthe police took a statement, he was told that nothing could be done since theMobile Police were involved. After opening a case for compensation the youngman was approached several times by personnel from C&C suggesting that heshould settle out of court.[410][410]Since visiting the location, Human Rights Watch has been told by the youthconcerned that, on September 25, 1997, the project manager of C&Cthreatened him, stating that "if I don't withdraw the case from court, KenSaro-Wiwa's case should be crystal clear for me to learn lesson." Nevertheless,he still refused to settle. On September 26, 1997, armed men from the StateSecurity Service (SSS) came to his home to look for him. He escaped through thewindow, slept overnight in the bush,and, on returning to his house and findingthat his brother had been detained in his stead, fled several days later toTogo.[411][411]

In January 1997, over one hundred youths held ademonstration at SPDC's Ahia Flow Station, Omudioga, in Rivers State. Theyouths demanded that Shell carry out development projects in their village,including tarring the road, completing a water project and providingelectricity: a tarred road currently leads to the flow station, but bypassesthe village (understandably annoying local residents); a water project has beenbegun but not completed, and electricity poles have been erected, but no cablesare attached.[412][412]The youths went to the flow station, demanded that the staff there close downproduction, and occupied the site. About fifteen members of the Rivers StateInternal Security Task Force came to the flow station and arrested twelve ofthe youths. They were taken to Bori camp near Port Harcourt and detained forone month; for the first five days they were beaten every morning, and teargascanisters were fired into their cell on a number of occasions. They wereeventually released without charge, with a warning that they should not holdany protests about development projects or they would be detained again.[413][413]SPDC denied knowledge of this incident, stating that "the relationship with thecommunity has been cordial."[414][414]

In 1978, a serious spillage took place at Opukoshi flowstation located next to the village of Obotobo, Delta State. As a consequencethe villagers moved away, some to an area on the edge of the ocean facing theForcados oil field a kilometer or so away from the original site, a communitynow known as Obotobo I; others further away to a settlement now known asObotobo II. Obotobo I is a small settlement accessed by a dirt track that leadsoff a metaled road constructed by SPDC from the jetty where boats moor,bringing personnel and supplies from the mainland to the flow station. A watertank has been installed in the village and a generator donated by SPDC; neitherwere functioning at the time of Human Rights Watch's visit in July 1997. Inlate June 1997 the community sent a delegation to the houseboat from which acontractor was currently undertaking work, to demand that Shell tar the sectionof the road leading to the community. While they were there, two speed boatscontaining about twenty soldiers came. The soldiers fired into the air, but didnot arrest anyone. According to those living there, most of the villagers raninto the bush, until the army had gone.[415][415]In correspondence with Human Rights Watch, Shell stated that they had noknowledge of this incident, stating that no contractor was working in the areafor SPDC at the time; and, in addition, that at the time of writing thegenerator was working.[416][416]

In July 1997, ten youths from Edagberi, Rivers State, weredetained 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 thecompany as compensation for the disturbance caused by the operations in thecommunity. According to SPDC, no such agreement in fact existed, although therehad been an agreement for the provision of an electricity project.[417][417]Those youths with whom Human Rights Watch spoke reported that the communityrelations officer for Alcon had said that he would report back to them, butinstead they were called to report to the area police commander at Ahoada.[418][418]They went to the police station, where the commander said that Alcon had laid acomplaint against them: Shell confirmed to Human Rights Watch that Alcon hadlodged a formal written complaint with the divisional police commander "for therecord" as a result of numerous road blockages by community youths and physicalthreats to Alcon staff. The letter did not make any stipulations that thesecurity forces should exercise restraint or avoid abusing the rights of thecommunities concerned.[419][419]The youths were held overnight and for most of the next day, before beingreleased without charge.[420][420]

In July 1997, a youth by the name of Gidikumo Sule waskilled by Mobile Police in Opuama, Delta State in the course of a dispute witha Chevron contractor. Opuama is one of the communities affected by a canaldredged by Chevron which has drastically affected the local hydrology, causinggreat damage to local fishing grounds. Accounts of the incident given by hiscolleagues and by Chevron, the oil company involved, differ. According toChevron, a group of youths stopped a barge owned by Halliburton, a contractor,and blocked the access creek to a Chevron facility, demanding that the bargepay 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 youthsagain stormed the barge and forced it to return to their village. By thisaccount, two Nigerian police accompanying the barge radioed to their bases,notifying them of the situation. The crew were, however, taken hostage by theyouths, relieved of their valuables, and the two policemen, who were armed, hadtheir rifles taken from them.[421][421]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, theircommunity relations staff immediately went to the community to investigate theincident, and their understanding is that: "A death had resulted while theNigeria Mobile Police were trying to free their colleagues who had beenillegally detained by community youths after an attempt at extortion turnedsour. This was, to us, entirely a Police affair. It had to do with the breakingof the law of the land."[422][422]Chevron say that they were asked for assistance to transport the corpse toWarri for burial and for other expenses, and that "we were at first reluctant,however, on grounds of compassion we yielded." They provided transportation andoffered _250,000 (U.S.$2,780) to the family of the youth, "on compassionategrounds and nothing more."

According to one of the youths involved, however, the orderof events was different. He stated that the barge had been stopped because Chevronhad failed to employ any local youths during their operations close to thevillage, as they understood to have been agreed when the operations beganseveral weeks earlier. While the protest was going on, Mobile Police had shotand killed Gidikumo Sule, and the protesters had then detained and beaten upthe other police. The payment of money to the community was believed to be anattempt to silence the chiefs of the area, and the youths had not wanted themoney to be accepted. "No amount of intimidation or threats will stop ourmovement, because we are fighting for our rights: now is not a time forpetition writing but for action."[423][423]Chevron did not report to Human Rights Watch that the company had undertakenany sort of investigation into the methods used by the police, havingdetermined that it was "a police affair," expressed any concern to theauthorities about the actions of the Mobile Police that led to the death of theyouth, or taken any steps to avoid a similar incident in future.

The major spill from a Mobil pipeline on January 12, 1998led 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 January19 and 20, demanding that Mobil establish a claims office in Eket itself.According to press reports, the military administrator of Akwa Ibom State, NavyCaptain Joseph Adeusi, spent over nine hours negotiating with several thousanddemonstrators and at one stage was manhandled by the crowd and had stones thrownat his vehicle. Eventually, following meetings with leaders of thedemonstrators, it was agreed that Mobil would establish a claims office inEket, and Mobil representatives signed a document to this effect. Up to threehundred people were later reported to have been detained in connection with thedemonstrations.[424][424]In July 1998, it was reported that police shot dead eleven people duringfurther demonstrations in Warri, Delta State, over compensation paymentsresulting from the spill. In August, the Cross River State government statedthat Mobil had not yet paid compensation to claimants in communities affectedby the spill.[425][425]Mobil failed to respond to several requests from Human Rights Watch forinformation about the spill, compensation payments, and the subsequentprotests.

In May 1998, a major hostage taking incident took place atChevron's Parabe Platform, fifteen kilometers offshore from Ilaje/Ese-Eso localgovernment area, Ondo State. Like Opuama, this area is affected by Chevrondredging that has disrupted fresh water supplies and fishing grounds; therehave also been a number of oil spills that have caused further damage. On May25, approximately 120 youths, describing themselves as the "Concerned IlajeCitizens," occupied the platform, as well as a large construction bargeoperated by McDermott/EPTM, a company contracted to carry out an equipmentupgrade on the platform, and a tugboat, theCherylAnne, in the service of another contractor. Altogether, 200 employees ofChevron and its contractors were at the facilities, and were prevented fromleaving. The leader of the youths, Bola Oyinbo, interviewed by the Nigeriannongovernmental organization Environmental Rights Action, described theoccupation as a "peaceful protest... against the continuing destruction of ourenvironment by Chevron," following the failure of Chevron to participate innegotiations with the group; in particular, the failure of Chevron to come to ameeting arranged by the military administrator of Ondo State on May7 and asubsequent meeting called by the youths themselves on May 15.[426][426]Chevron reported that the group demanded employment on the construction bargeand a guaranteed annual employment quota of Ilaje residents in Chevron'sworkforce; more scholarships awarded to local communities; _25 million(U.S.$278,000) as reparation for "sea incursion and erosion of theircommunities caused by Chevron operations over the years"; and _10 million(U.S.$111,000) as the expenses incurred to carry out the occupation of theplatform.[427][427]Interestingly, minutes supplied to Human Rights Watch by Chevron of a meetingbetween Chevron and another group of local residents who "strongly dissociatedthemselves" from the Concerned Ilaje Citizens, indicate that this group too,while thanking Chevron for certain initiatives "appealed additionally to thecompany to do something for the plight of their women and elderly peoplegenerally whom they claimed could no longer fish in the creeks due to siltationcaused by the company's dredging activities in the past, and sea waterincursion resulting from the canals opened up to the sea." The group believedthat "the company can really not pay for the damage caused by its operation."[428][428]

Negotiations ensued with Chevron representatives on theplatform at Escravos and in Lagos, and Mr. Deji Haastrup came from Chevron'sLagos office to the platform during May 26 and met with the youths. He agreedto go onshore, with the community relations manager, Sola Adebawo, to meet withelders at Ikorigho community; according to Chevron, he also promised an upwardreview of scholarships by the end of the year, and agreed to give the youthssixteen more jobs on the project to upgrade the Parabe platform, in addition tosixteen Ilaje youths already hired-although they would not in fact be requiredto work since no further workers were actually needed-and to backdate theiremployment to March 1998. The youths stated that navy personnel stationed onthe platform were present throughout these negotiations. According to Chevron,production at the platform was immediately shut down by the youths when theybegan their occupation, although the group leader alleged to EnvironmentalRights Action that production continued through Wednesday May 27.

Chevron states that the situation was reported to the OndoState government and the federal law enforcement agencies on May 27. OnThursday May 28, three helicopters came to the platform. The youth leaderalleged that the security force members discharged from the helicopters shot atthe youths, even before they landed, killing two people, Jola Ogungbeje andAroleka Irowaninu, and also fired teargas canisters. Chevron, on the otherhand, stated to Human Rights Watch that there was "no shooting at all until oneof the youths attempted to disarm the law enforcement officers."[429][429]In addition to the two men killed, one was seriously injured, and later takenby Chevron for treatment at its Escravos clinic and then to the AmericanBaptist hospital in Warri. According to press reports, Chevron agreed in earlyJuly 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 compensation to eachof the families of the men killed at the platform, though the company initiallyrefused to negotiate on this point.[430][430]

Oyinbo alleged that, during radio conversations he had withDeji Haastrup after the soldiers had taken control of the platform, Haastrupresponded to the charge that Chevron was responsible for the deaths of the twomen by saying "if it means blowing up the platform with you inside, I will notmind doing that."[431][431]This is denied by Chevron.[432][432]Eleven youths were eventually detained and taken to the Chevron facility atEscravos and then to the Warri naval base, and, on May 31, to Akure, thecapital of Ondo State, where they were questioned by the State Intelligence andInvestigation Bureau and detained until June 22, when they were releasedwithout charge. Bola Oyinbo, the leader of the group, reported torture while indetention: he said he was hung for several hours by his handcuffed hands from ahook in the ceiling. The other youths left the platform, although, according toChevron, several continued to occupy the tugboat,Cheryl Anne, with five expatriate hostages on board who were takento villages onshore. Chevron reported this to the Ondo State government "with astrong appeal for government to help in securing the release of the abductedpersons."[433][433]Chevron stated that these final hostages were released on May 31, followingnegotiations between Chevron, government agencies, and a leading traditionalruler in the area.

In an interview broadcast on Pacifica Radio in New York onOctober 1, 1998, Sola Omole, general manager of public affairs for Chevron inNigeria, acknowledged that Chevron management had authorized the call for thenavy to intervene, and had flown the navy and Mobile Police to the platform.Chevron Nigeria's acting head of security, James Neku, who accompanied thesecurity forces in the helicopters, also confirmed that the youths on the platformhad been unarmed. A representative of the contractor EPTM, Bill Spencer, statedthat one of those killed was actually attempting to mediate the confrontation.Spencer also alleged that Chevron had paid for this protection, although aspokesperson for Chevron headquarters in San Francisco responded to pressinquiries that "we categorically deny we paid a dime to any law enforcementrepresentative."[434][434]Despite these serious allegations, Chevron did not indicate, in response toinquiries from Human Rights Watch, that any concern had been expressed to theauthorities over the incident or any steps taken to avoid future loss of life.Bill Spencer, Chevron's contractor, asked by Pacifica Radio whether he wasconcerned for those detained by the Nigerian authorities, stated: "I was moreconcerned about the 200 people who work for me. I couldn't care less about thepeople from the village quite frankly."[435][435]Chevron declined to comment on the material in this broadcast, stating that "wedo not intend to engage in further correspondence with Human Rights Watch onthis issue," though Human Rights Watch should "be assured, however, thatChevron is committed to maintaining its positive long-term relationships withour local communities and will continue our dialogue with the leaders and thepeople of those communities."[436][436]

On September 21, 1998, several thousand women from Egicommunity in Rivers State demonstrated at Elf's nearby Obite gas project,protesting the actions of security officers at the facility, demanding therelease of an environmental impact assessment for the project, and calling forsocial investment in the community. According to information received by HumanRights Watch, a confrontation ensued between youths of the community and MobilePolice based at the site, during which youths destroyed property at the site,while one youth was stabbed and severely wounded, and twenty-one detained. Thetwenty-one were held without charge until a local human rights organizationapplied to court, and they were charged and released on bail. A meeting wassubsequently held with representatives of Elf, at which the demands were againpresented. On October 11, 1998, Prince Ugo, a youth leader from the community(the same individual who said he was threatened by C&C Construction), wasattacked by individuals he believed to be guards employed by Elf at its Obitegas project and by Mobile Police deployed at the facility. He was severelybeaten, suffering injuries requiring hospitalization, including a puncturedleft lung. On November 23, an even larger women's demonstration was held, withthe same demands. Following the demonstration, Ponticelli, a contractor to Elfat the site, announced that a particular security officer would be removed fromthe site, as demanded by the demonstrators.[437][437]In response to correspondence from Human Rights Watch concerning theseincidents, Elf stated that it "neither knows Prince Ugo nor is it aware of anyattack on his person," though the company was "aware that some youths werequestioned by the police for looting and vandalising EPNL's Obite Gas Projectoffices on Monday 21 September 1998, following the women's demonstration. Thecommunity approached EPNL to intervene on their behalf for the release of thedetainees. Since their arrests bordered on crime, EPNL could not tell the lawenforcement agencies what to do."[438][438]Human Rights Watch believes that whatever the reason for security forceintervention, oil companies have a responsibility to monitor their behavior andtake all steps to ensure that it is not abusive.

On December 30, 1998, Ijaw youths protesting against the oilcompanies and in support of the "Kaiama Declaration" adopted on December 11,1998, demonstrated in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, and several otherlocations across the delta, calling on the multinational oil companies towithdraw from Ijaw territories, "pending the resolution of the issue ofresource ownership and control."[439][439]Thousands of troops and navy personnel were brought into the region in responseto these protests. In Yenagoa itself, at least seven youths were reported tohave been shot dead by security forces on December 30, and another sixteen thefollowing day in nearby communities. Twelve youth leaders were detained,including T.K. Ogoriba, the president of MOSIEND; the Bayelsa State policecommissioner, Nahum Eli, stated that they were being held in "protectivecustody" and would be released as soon as the security situation improved. Themilitary administrator of Bayelsa State, Lt.-Col. Paul Obi, declared a state ofemergency and a dusk to dawn curfew across the state, which was lifted on theevening of January 3, 1999, although a ban on meetings, processions and othergatherings remained in place.[440][440]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 thedissatisfaction among certain segments of our population arising from certaingovernment actions or inactions in the past. Genuine as such grievances may be,we cannot allow the continued reckless expression of such feelings. Thedevelopments in the oil producing areas of Niger Delta region is a case inpoint. While we appreciate the feelings of the people in the area over theirsad condition, this administration notes with great displeasure the disruptionsof the activities of oil companies government and private enterprises byrampaging youths. Seizure of oil wells, rigs and platforms as well ashostage-taking and vehicular-hijacking, all in the name of expressinggrievances are totally unacceptable to this administration. We are no doubtcommitted to freedom of expression, the right to dissent, and all other basicfreedoms and rights that are the hallmarks of a decent, civilized, opensociety. The recent activities in the Niger Delta region are a flagrant abuseof our commitment to such rights and freedoms. This administration will notallow lawlessness and anarchy to camouflage as right or freedom. We will notaccept brazen challenge to the State authority under threat of violence asrecently happened in the Niger Delta region. Government has a responsibility tosafeguard the state and the security of life and property of all its citizensand those of foreign nationals on our soil carrying out their legitimatepre-occupations. This administration is resolved to do just that. I will,therefore appeal to all those that have been engaged in the unacceptableexcesses of the recent past in the region to stop such actions henceforth, inthe interest of peace and decency. This administration is convinced that theNiger Delta region stands to reap tremendous dividend by dissent throughdialogue rather than dissent through violence. Such is the path to a civilizedand great society which we are all striving to build.[441][441]

As this report went to press reports reached Human RightsWatch that more than one hundred people had been killed in and around Kaiama,Bayelsa State, a sizeable Ijaw community accessible by road, by soldiers overthe new year weekend. Some of these youths had reported been killed inconfrontations with the military; some had been summarily executed in searchesof vehicles or homes. Ten to twenty houses were reported to have been burntdown, and the community left deserted. Further disturbances took place inOkpoma, near Shell's Forcados terminal on the Atlantic coast.[442][442]

Other Abuses Resulting from Oil Company Security

Thesimple presence of the security forces posted to guard oil productionfacilities causes communities to face additional harassment and extortion,beyond that to which all Nigerians are subjected by the military regimes whichhave ruled Nigeria for all but ten years since independence. Ordinary communitymembers with the misfortune to have farms or fishing grounds near an oilfacility may be subjected to daily harassment from security guards as they goabout their work. In September 1995, to take one example, a woman fromYenezue-Gene, near Gbaran oil field, Rivers State, was raped by soldiers postedto guard Mife Construction, a contractor to SPDC. When her husband went toprotest he was beaten, forced to eat a lighted cigarette, and locked in acaravan for several hours. On other occasions, soldiers had stolen fish fromwomen of the community at the roadside. Police posted at the camp at the timeof Human Rights Watch's visit also regularly threatened the women, whoconsequently ran into the forest any time they came by, in fear of furtherharassment or assault.[443][443]

Sometimes there also appears to be a presumption ofwrongdoing by the victims of an oil spill, a presumption that the landholdersmust be responsible if sabotage has occurred. In the case from Obobura, RiversState, described above in the discussion of the law relating to sabotage, forexample, five members of the landholder's family were detained, either onsuspicion of sabotage or as a means of intimidation to stop any protests, inearly January 1997 following a spill on December 31, 1996, which wiped outtheir crops. They were released without charge, and there is apparently no evidenceto suggest that they were in fact guilty of sabotage. Although the spill wascleaned up, it was done in a shoddy fashion, and no compensation was paid.[444][444]

On other occasions, abuses occur when locals seek theassistance of security force members at oil installations, in the absence ofany other police presence in the riverine areas. In one case reported to HumanRights Watch, a woman from the village of Egbemo Angalabiri, in the Ekeremorlocal government area in Rivers State, who runs a small store came back to thevillage on March 31, 1996, from a purchasing expedition, to find that goods hadbeen stolen from her store. She suspected a boy, named Festus Agidi, from thenearby village of Tuomo across the state boundary in Delta State, and went withanother woman to the Clough Creek flow station operated by Agip to report thematter to the soldiers stationed there. The soldiers returned with them to thevillage and arrested the suspect, and beat him severely. He was then taken backto the flow station, together with the two women and the boy's older brotherSolomon Agidi, where he was beaten further and eventually made a confession tothe theft. The soldiers then returned to the village with the boy to look forthe stolen property where he said he had hidden it. They moored their boat andbeat the boy again, who fell in the water in front of the village and died. Apost mortem was carried out and confirmed that he had been killed by thebeating. The relatives of the deceased, on discovering his death, came to demandcompensation from Egbemo Angalabiri. The village of Egbemo tried to argue thatthe 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'srelatives was _519,484 (U.S.$5,772) for compensation and to pay their transportand funeral expenses. While representations had been made to Agip, there hadbeen no response.[445][445]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 HumanRights 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 thatit will not be repeated.


A major factor in the cycle of protest and repression in theoil areas is the lack of a properly functioning legal system which couldpromptly and fairly rule in cases involving compensation, pollution, orcontracts. Even if such a system existed, there would remain problems relatedto the inequality of bargaining power between poverty-stricken delta villagesand multinational oil companies, corruption and the lack of genuinely representativepolitical structures at local (or national) level. Nevertheless, the gravity ofthe situation in the delta is greatly exacerbated by the fact that the Nigeriancourt system is in crisis. The lack of a properly functioning court system alsocontributes to conflict between communities and companies because, instead ofproper investigation of criminal damage or other offenses, followed by chargeand trial, the police instead choose to detain and assault youths and othercommunity members, often on an arbitrary basis as collective punishment for thewhole community. Those detained, whether innocent of any crime or not, assumethat such assaults and detentions are carried out on the instructions of theoil companies, and ill feeling between communities and the oil industryincreases once again.

The quality of judicial appointments has steadilydeteriorated over the years, and the level of executive interference in courtdecisions has increased. Judges, magistrates and other court officers,including prosecutors (and police, who often act as prosecutors), are verypoorly paid. Court facilities are hopelessly overcrowded, badly equipped, andunderfunded. Interpreters may be nonexistent or badly trained. Court librariesare inadequate. There are no computers, photocopiers, or other modernequipment; and judges may even have to supply their own paper and pens torecord their judgments in longhand. If litigants need a transcript of ajudgment 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. Thisfinancial crisis encourages the acceptance of bribes, in order to achieve thestandard of living regarded as acceptable by someone with a legalqualification. Corruption is a pervasive feature of court cases, whethercriminal or civil.

The ability of Nigerian citizens to challenge executivewrongdoing is further curtailed by restrictions placed on the courts. Theregular court system in Nigeria has been seriously undermined both by "ousterclauses" in military decrees, which exclude courts from considering executiveaction taken under such decrees, and by the creation of special tribunals, bothto hear politically sensitive cases and to bypass the delays of the court systemin the trial of high profile crimes. Among the most notorious of thesetribunals is that created under the Civil Disturbances (Special Tribunal)Decree No. 2 of 1987, which tried Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other eight Ogoniactivists executed on November 10, 1995. Even when a case is before the regularcourts, the Nigerian government itself regularly disregards the court ordersmade against it.

Delays plague the course of litigation against oilcompanies. A spill at Peremabiri, Bayelsa State, in January 1987 came to theHigh Court in 1992, and to the Court of Appeal in 1996;[446][446]a case heard in the High Court in 1985 in relation to damages suffered on acontinuous basis since 1972 was heard in the Court of Appeal in 1994;[447][447]a case heard in the High Court in 1987, in relation to damages suffered since1967, was heard in the Court of Appeal in 1990, and in the Supreme Court in1994;[448][448]damage caused in 1979 and followed by correspondence leading to a writ ofsummons in 1984 was first heard in 1987, appealed in 1989, and heard in theSupreme Court in 1994.[449][449]

The case ofShellPetroleum Development Company v. Farah,[450][450]the leading authority on compensation in oil cases, arose from an oil spillfrom Shell's BomuII 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 July1970, but stated that the company had paid a total of £22,000 to the individualclaimants and rehabilitated the land by 1975, and hence that no furtherobligation was due in respect of the damage caused. The plaintiffs in the caseasserted that the land had not in fact been rehabilitated and that an extendedperiod of negotiation had followed over Shell's obligations which terminated in1988 in refusal by Shell to take any further action. In 1989, the court casewas commenced in the High Court. The plaintiffs won their case in the HighCourt in 1991 and were awarded a total of _4,621,307 (U.S.$51,350). SPDCappealed, but lost their case in the Court of Appeal in 1995, and Shellappealed again to the Supreme Court.

Most egregiously of all, in late June 1997, the High Courtin Ughelli awarded four communities in Burutu local governmentauthority-Sokebelou, Obotobo, Ofogbene and Ekeremor-Zion-_30 million(U.S.$333,000) compensation in connection with a claim relating to a spill in1982, brought to court in 1983, that SPDC asserts was caused by sabotage, andfor which it was therefore not liable.[451][451]SPDC announced that it was appealing the decision, which, as the ChikokoMovement pointed out, "might take another 20 years."[452][452]Furthermore, protests at the appeal were met with at least one arrest and aseries of threats. Shortly following the High Court decision, Chief MatthewSaturday Eregbene, head of the Oil Producing Communities DevelopmentOrganisation and spokesperson for the four communities, announced that SPDC hada deadline of July 8 to pay the sum awarded or cease production pending theappeal, or production would be forcibly closed. On July 7, 1997, Eregbene wasdetained by members of the SSS in Asaba, capital of Delta State. He was heldovernight and released. Later Eregbene and other representatives of thecommunity met with representatives of SPDC and the military administration inAsaba in connection with the case. In addition, as reported in more detailbelow, contractors working for Shell reported to Human Rights Watch that SPDChad called meetings around the same time at which representatives of Shell hadwarned those present that the consequences for the communities would be seriousif the threat to shut down Shell production were carried out.[453][453]


The multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria face adifficult political and economic environment, both nationally and at the levelof the oil producing communities where their facilities are located. Successivemilitary governments have misspent the oil wealth which the oil companies havehelped to unlock, salting it away in foreign bank accounts rather than investingin education, health, and other social investment, and mismanaging the nationaleconomy to the point of collapse. At the same time, the government has in thepast failed to fund its share of the joint ventures operated by themultinationals, and plays the different oil companies against each other sothat it has not been easy-even for Shell, the industry giant-to insist that thegovernment contribute towards the investment needed to keep the industryfunctioning. The costs of buying political favors are reported to addsignificantly to the cost of oil production, despite official denials from theoil companies that bribes are paid. While the political environment for the oilcompanies has improved with the death of General Abacha and succession of GeneralAbubakar, it is unlikely that relations between the multinationals and theNigerian government, military or civilian, will ever be entirely smooth.

Meanwhile, at community level, the companies are faced byincreasing incidents of hostage-taking, closures of flow stations, and otheracts which they see in purely criminal terms. While they acknowledge a lack ofdevelopment in the oil producing areas, the companies see the problems faced bycommunities as a government responsibility, and no different in the delta fromelsewhere in Nigeria: nevertheless, they make substantial investments indevelopment projects for which they believe they should receive gratituderather than censure. The further demands made of the oil companies by theresidents of the oil producing areas are therefore often represented asillegitimate; and when protests resulting from a rejection of these demands aremet with repression from the military authorities the oil companies feel thatthey are unfairly blamed, since they are not in control of this response.

Acknowledging the difficult context of oil operations inNigeria does not, however, absolve the oil companies from responsibility forthe human rights abuses taking place in the Niger Delta: whether by action oromission they play a role.

Most of the cases detailed in this report concern situationsin which communities have claimed that operations of oil companies have damagedthe material interests of the peoples of the areas in which they operate. Theincidents involve disputes over legal obligations to provide compensation forclaims of damage, for encroachment on community land or waters, or for accessrights, though claims are often couched in terms of community rights to a "fairshare" of the oil wealth derived from their land. The evidence in many of thecases suggests that companies benefit from nonenforcement of laws regulatingthe oil industry, in ways directly prejudicial to the resident population.Alternatively, the oil companies benefit from federal decrees that deprivelocal communities of rights in relation to the land they treat as theirs.Grievances with the oil companies center on the appropriation or unremunerateduse of community or family resources, health problems or damage to fishing,hunting or cultivation attributed to oil spills or gas flares, and otheroperations leading to a loss of livelihood; as well as on oil company failureto employ sufficient local people in their operations or to generate benefitsfor local communities from the profits that they make. These cases have come tothe attention of Human Rights Watch when companies are shielded by abusivesecurity forces against demands for compensation and against independentverification and arbitration that could fairly establish the merits of opposingclaims.

The information from oil companies that is cited in thisreport comes largely from responses to our correspondence with them concerningparticular cases of violations of civil and political rights related to theiroperations and their general policies in relation to community relations andsecurity provisions: the preparedness of the companies to respond to thesequestions was in direct proportion to the level of pressure that they havefaced about their activities in Nigeria in the countries of their headquarters.The most ample responses were received from Shell, the company that has facedthe most adverse publicity in Europe and the U.S. over its role in Nigeria.Shell also provided information concerning operating procedures and the oilindustry in general in Nigeria. Responses on several cases were also receivedfrom Chevron and general information from Mobil. Both Elf and Agip took monthseven to acknowledge our correspondence. Elf answered most of our questions,though it avoided some, without giving much detail or taking the opportunity toprovide background information on its operations. Agip provided only anuninformative two page general response to our inquiries, and did not addressany of the specific incidents we raised.

Corporate Responsibility in Nigeria

International human rights law in general is written by andbinding upon states. Nevertheless, in recent years it has been increasinglyacknowledged that companies in general, and multinational corporations inparticular-which often control budgets larger than those of the states in whichthey operate and have significant power as a result, have responsibilities withregard to the promotion and protection of human rights as well as the negativeobligation not themselves to be the instrument of or contribute to states'violations of human rights.

Human Rights Watch believes that the dominant position ofthe oil companies in Nigeria gives them responsibilities to monitor and promoterespect for human rights by the Nigerian government. Given the overwhelmingrole of oil in the Nigerian national economy, the policies and practices of theoil companies are important factors in the decision making of the Nigeriangovernment. Because the oil companies are operating joint ventures with thegovernment they have constant opportunities to influence government policy,including with respect to the provision of security for the oil facilities andother issues in the oil producing regions.

The role of Shell in Nigeria has received by far the mostattention internationally, for three reasons: first, because it is the biggestoil producer in Nigeria with the longest history, dominating the industry foras long as oil has been produced and in the early days enjoying a monopoly anda privileged relationship with government; secondly, because Shell's facilitiesare largely in or near inhabited areas and thus exposed to community protests(most of the incidents described in this report concern Shell because of thisgreater exposure); and thirdly, because it formed the main target of thecampaign by MOSOP. While Human Rights Watch believes that Shell has a specialresponsibility because of its current and historically dominant position inNigeria, we believe that all the oil companies share this responsibility andthat collective action by the oil industry in support of human rights inNigeria is required.

The oil companies in Nigeria have historically maintainedthe basic position that to take a stance on human rights issues would be tointerfere in the internal politics of the country, something that would not bea legitimate activity for a foreign commercial entity. Human Rights Watch firstcontacted Shell in connection with its role in Nigeria in January 1995, urgingthe company to take constructive public steps to end human rights violations inconnection with its operations. In its first substantive response to ourcorrespondence, Shell stated "You have called for Shell to become involved in,and to take a public stance on, several issues arising from the currentsituation-all of which are political. They are clearly issues where we as acommercial organization have neither the right nor the competence to becomeinvolved, and they must be addressed by the people of Nigeria and theirgovernment."[454][454]Nevertheless, "SPDC does speak up when it feels that its employees,installations, local communities, or its ability to conduct business safely arethreatened."[455][455]Shell restated this position in its response to our July 1995 report on theOgoni crisis: "We do support the statement of human rights in Nigeria'sconstitution and are concerned that all citizens possess such rights. However,as we have said before, we follow a set of business principles endeavoringalways to act commercially and operating within the confines of existingnational laws in a socially responsible manner. Debate about Nigeria's humanrights record is in the political arena and we have neither the right nor thecompetence to get involved."[456][456]

Chevron has also stated that "Chevron has an international policythat requires individual Chevron operations to maintain absolute neutrality inmatters of the internal politics of the host country in which they areoperating." Mobil, on the other hand, states only that "as a corporate citizen,we do dialogue with the government, but this is usually confidential."[457][457]

Yet companies, multinational or otherwise, regularly attemptto influence governments in relation to their policies on health, safety, andthe environment, investment or tax policies, and labor laws; matters whichmight also be regarded as "political." Human rights abuses in the communitiesin which the companies operate affect the oil industry in Nigeria as much asany of these other issues, since poor community relations partly caused by suchabuses are responsible for the increasingly frequent shut-downs of oilproduction: it is disingenuous to put questions of respect for human rights ina separate category on which oil companies can have no view.

Shell, at least, has apparently begun to recognize that itcannot any longer maintain that its role in Nigeria is apolitical. In responseto international pressure to take action on human rights issues, Shell haspointed to interventions it has made which are in the political arena. Forexample, as regards the issue of revenue allocation to the oil producingstates, the company has stated to Human Rights Watch and others that "Thecompany has made and continues to make representations to the governmentregarding the distribution of revenues from oil production in the Niger Delta."[458][458]Similarly, in May 1997, Brian Anderson, outgoing managing director of SPDC, inLondon for the annual general meeting of Shell Transport and Trading, SPDC'sholding company, stated that "it is really essential that the government bring backsome more benefit to the Delta."[459][459]

In addition, under public pressure in Europe and the U.S.,Shell took tentative steps towards the condemnation of abuses by the governmentof General Abacha, especially with respect to detentions of high profile detaineesfrom the oil areas. Shell stated to Human Rights Watch that "SPDC does not havea general policy relating to assistance to be given to communities when thereare confrontations with the military. Each case is reviewed on an individualbasis. In some cases, this results in public statements being made (e.g. aswith the ‘Ogoni 19'). In some others, private approaches are made to theauthorities."[460][460]In further correspondence and meetings with Human Rights Watch, Shell indicatedthat such private approaches had been made on behalf of the detained oil unionleaders Frank Kokori and Milton Dabibi (detained in August 1994 and January1996, respectively, and both released in June 1998, after years in detentionwithout charge, following General Abacha's death), and on behalf of BatomMitee, detained for several months in early 1998.

Human Rights Watch also asked Mobil, Chevron, Elf and Agipif they had ever made any interventions on behalf of those detained by theNigerian authorities, including (but not limited to) Dabibi and Kokori. OnlyMobil and Chevron addressed the question, but limited their responses to theparticular cases of the detained union leaders. Chevron stated that "Chevronhas an international policy that requires individual Chevron operations to maintainabsolute neutrality in matters of the internal politics of the host country inwhich they are operating. The present administration in Nigeria, as you wellknow, is military. It views as politically motivated the involvement of Unionsin the 1994 strike that led to the arrest of the two individuals. Given ourCompany policy, any involvement of CNL in the release of the two gentlemencannot therefore be overt."[461][461]In its cursory response to Human Rights Watch's inquiries, Mobil stated onlythat "We are supportive of NUPENG and PENGASSAN [the oil unions] as manyemployees are members. The NUPENG and PENGASSAN have made representations forthe release of Dabibi and Kokori. As a corporate citizen, we do dialogue withthe government, but this is usually confidential."[462][462]At its annual shareholders meeting in May 1998, Mobil, under pressure from ashareholders' resolution pressing the company to review its investments inNigeria in light of the human rights situation, finally undertook to raise thecases of Kokori and Dabibi with the Nigerian government; the death of GeneralAbacha and the subsequent release of detainees, including the unionists, freedthem from this commitment.[463][463]

In addition to the general responsibilities to monitor andpromote respect for human rights by the Nigerian government, Human Rights Watchbelieves that the oil companies operating in Nigeria have specificresponsibilities in respect of the human rights violations that take place inconnection with their operations. These responsibilities must be seen againstthe context of oil production in Nigeria and the fact that the securityprovided to keep the oil flowing benefits both the Nigerian government and theoil companies, since disputes which threaten production affect the revenue of both.Companies have a duty to avoid both complicity in and advantage from humanrights abuses.

Many of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch whichhave led to security force abuses concern claims that oil companies have notfollowed environmental standards or provided compensation in accordance withthe law for damage resulting from oil exploration and production. Nigerian lawsrequire the oil companies to respect high environmental standards, oftenexplicitly based on international standards, in order to prevent and remedypollution, to protect inhabited areas from oil flaring and other dangerousaspects of oil production, as well as to provide fair and adequate compensationfor buildings, crops, fishing rights, or other property adversely affected by theiroperations. Nigerian law incorporates the principle of strict liability fordamage caused by oil spills, so that it is not necessary to prove negligence onbehalf of the operator; though if the oil was deliberately spilled because ofsabotage the rule does not apply and negligence must be shown. However, theFederal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Petroleum Resources,the government bodies with responsibility for enforcing these laws, suffer froma lack of technical expertise and resources, which, coupled with the problemscaused by overlapping mandates and corruption, prevent effective policing ofenvironmental standards, and the companies often fall short of theirobligations. Other cases concern claims that the oil multinationals have notprovided compensation which community members believe to be due to thetraditional landholders, though the realities of the Nigerian legal system makeit difficult to enforce such an obligation.

Often, the Nigerian government effectively entrusts the oilcompanies themselves to provide the facts on such matters as land claims andvaluation, environmental impact assessments, agreed terms of compensation forproperty and labor, assessment of sabotage, and damage claims. Mostnegotiations for compensation are bilateral, between the community affected andthe oil company concerned, although government structures may play a nominalmonitoring role. The process of valuation, negotiation, and payment istherefore in practice controlled almost entirely by the company. The affectedcommunities, without effective government support or technical assistance, arein an unequal bargaining position, largely obliged to accept whatevercompensation is offered by the companies in such situations. Protests-or eventhe presentation of claims-are routinely disrupted by violent police actionsand arbitrary arrests. Although there are independent lawyers and environmentalgroups attempting to monitor oil company compliance with the law and assist theoil communities in pressing their claims, their activities have in the pastbeen seriously hindered by security force harassment, office raids, detentions,and other repressive measures.

Although legal action is a theoretical possibility tochallenge claimed injustices, the Nigerian court system does not provide aneffective remedy, since access to justice is expensive, relevant information iscontrolled by the oil companies, and final court decisions are indefinitelydelayed. In many of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch the companieshave fought vigorously (and benefitted directly by police action, at least inthe short term) rather than seek arbitration or independent assessment ofclaims.

In addition, the oil companies operating in Nigeria haveclose relations with local elites in the communities where they operate and atstate and national level. In part, such relations are required in order for thecompanies to operate, and are no different from the relations of largecompanies with government authorities and other powerful figures in any state.The oil companies are obliged to deal with the government of the country at itsdifferent levels, whether military or civilian. However, the pervasivecorruption that has followed the oil industry profits the national and localpower structures as well as adding a cost to the oil companies. Contracts fromthe oil companies, whether for development projects or for construction orother work needed for oil operations, provide spectacular opportunities forrake-off of percentages both by middle management in the oil companies and bythe contractors, who are themselves often associates of state militaryadministrators, other government officials, or traditional leaders (whosestatus is partly autonomous, but also depends on government recognition). Theaward of contracts, like the siting of flow stations or other facilities by oilcompanies, can cause or contribute to conflict between and within communities;such conflict again invites a repressive response from the authorities. Developmentprograms are largely poorly thought through and fail to incorporate concepts ofsustainability or community control. In the absence of independent experts andarbiters, and transparency of information in consultations or negotiationsbetween oil companies and delta communities, relations between the oilcompanies and local elites can be expected to be flawed by corruption and tofail to satisfy others in the community that their concerns will be addressed.

In recent years, protests targeting oil installations andoil industry workers in the delta have increased. Some of these protests aredirected specifically at the behavior of the oil company; some of them aredirected rather at the government; many have a mixture of motives. In somecases, protests have been simple attempts to exercise rights to freedom ofexpression and assembly, and have consisted of peaceful demonstrations atcompany property. In other cases, company installations have been occupied,especially flow stations, and production closed down, causing significant lossof income to both company and government. In some cases where flow stations orother property have been taken over there has also been damage to the facilityconcerned. In addition, while the figures are contested, sabotage of pipelinescertainly takes place, contributing to the environmental problems caused by oilspills. Incidents of intimidation and hostage-taking of company staff have alsoincreased, and some of these cases have involved attempts to extort money from theoil companies. There are increasing numbers of firearms in circulation in thedelta, some of them captured from the security forces, and these have been usedin clashes between different communities; but most occupations of flow stationsand other protest activities aimed at the oil industry have been by unarmedcivilians.

Oil companies are legitimately concerned to prevent damageto their facilities and to the environment and to protect their personnel. Thecompanies also emphasize their commitment to avoid violent confrontationsbetween community members and security forces, while underlining a legalobligation to inform the Nigerian authorities when there is a threat to oilproduction. Shell, for example, states that "In circumstances where the safetyof staff or equipment is threatened, Shell reports the matter to the police,just as citizens or companies would in most countries around the world."[464][464]Whatever the reason for security force presence at an oil company facility,Human Rights Watch believes that the oil companies have a responsibility totake all possible steps to ensure that arbitrary arrests, detentions, tortureor killings do not occur. The cases investigated by Human Rights Watch showrepeated incidents in which people are brutalized for attempting to raisegrievances with the companies; in some cases security forces threaten, beat,and jail members of community delegations even before they present their cases.Such abuses often occur right next to company property, or in the immediate aftermathof meetings between company officials and individual claimants or communityrepresentatives. Many seem to be the object of repression simply for puttingforth an interpretation of a compensation agreement, or for seeking effectivecompensation for land ruined or livelihood lost. There are also cases in whichwitnesses have reported that company staff have directly threatened, or havebeen present when security force officers have threatened, communities withretaliation if there is disruption to oil production.

Human Rights Watch is concerned at the level of secrecy thatsurrounds the arrangements relating to security for oil installations: not oneof the oil companies with which we corresponded responded to our requests to begiven access to the parts of the Memorandum of Understanding or JointOperations Agreement with the Nigerian government governing security, nor tointernal guidelines relating to protection of their facilities. Given theabuses that have been committed by the Nigerian security forces in protectingoil installations, most notoriously in Ogoni, it is all the more important thatthere be transparency in these arrangements and clear commitments from the oilcompanies to monitor security force performance, take steps to prevent abuses,and publicly protest violations that do occur.

None of the oil companies publish regular, comprehensivereports of allegations of environmental damage, sabotage, claims forcompensation, protest actions, or police or military action carried out on ornear their facilities. Often, based on Human Rights Watch's correspondence, thecompanies claim to be unaware that arrests, detentions and beatings have takenplace in the vicinity of their facilities, despite assertions that they areconcerned to maintain good relations with the communities where they operate.

Human Rights Watch believes that the oil companies haveresponsibilities to monitor security force activity in the oil producing regionin detail and to take all possible steps to ensure that human rights violationsare not committed. These steps include the following:

•Companiesshould include in written agreements with the Nigerian government relating tothe regulation of the oil industry, especially any agreements relatingspecifically to security, provisions requiring state security forces operatingin the area of company operations to conform to the human rights obligationsthe government has assumed under the International Covenant on Civil andPolitical Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and otherinternational human rights and humanitarian norms.

•Companiesshould make public the provisions of their security agreements with stateentities and private organizations.

•Companiesshould insist on screening security force members assigned for theirprotection, to ensure that no member of the military or police crediblyimplicated in past human rights abuses is engaged in protecting oil facilities.Companies should similarly screen security staff in their direct employment.

•Companiesshould investigate abuses that do occur, and make public and private proteststo the authorities where excessive force is used, or where arbitrary detentionsor other abuses take place. Companies should publish details of such incidentsin their annual reports both in Nigeria and in the country of their headoffice.

•Companiesshould publicly and privately call on the Nigerian authorities to institutedisciplinary or criminal proceedings, as appropriate, against those responsiblefor abuses and to compensate the victims. Companies should monitor the statusof such investigations and press for resolution of the cases, publiclycondemning undue delay.

•Companiesshould adopt internal guidelines surrounding the provision of security fortheir facilities, emphasizing the need to ensure respect for human rights, andshould take disciplinary action against any employee that does not follow suchguidelines.

These responsibilities are reinforced when the company hasitself called for security force intervention, especially by the military or bynotoriously abusive forces such as the Mobile Police, or if the company hasmade payments to the security forces in return for protection.

The following section considers the incidents described inthe chapter on protest and repression in the Niger Delta in terms of the oilmultinationals' responsibility for repressive actions by the Nigerian securityforces.

The Role of Shell in the Ogoni Crisis

During the height of the Ogoni crisis, allegations of Shellcollaboration with the military were regularly made, even after the companyceased production from its flow stations in Ogoni in January 1993.[465][465]A leaked memorandum, dated May 12, 1994, addressed to the governor of RiversState and signed by Lt. Col. Paul Okuntimo, head of the Rivers State InternalSecurity Task Force stated: "Shell operations still impossible unless ruthlessmilitary operations are undertaken for smooth economic activities to commence."The strategies proposed include "wasting operations during MOSOP and othergatherings, making constant military presence justifiable"; "wasting targetscutting across communities and leadership cadres, especially vocal individualsin various groups," and "restriction of unauthorized visitors, especially thosefrom Europe, to Ogoni." An "initial disbursement of 50 million naira" and"pressure on oil companies for prompt regular inputs" were requested. Thegovernment claimed that this document was a forgery; Shell has stated that"there are reasons for doubting" its authenticity, and that, if it weregenuine, the company would regard its contents as "abhorrent."[466][466]Okuntimo himself stated in June 1994 to three environmental activists indetention that "Shell company has not been fair to him in these operations,"and that he had been "risking his life and that of his soldiers to protectShell installations."[467][467]Steve Lawson-Jack, head of SPDC's public and government affairs department inits eastern division, was identified by MOSOP as the link to Okuntimo (as wellas being named by auditors in 1995 as involved in arranging a _1 million(U.S.$11,100) bogus compensation claim against the company).[468][468]Former Ogoni members of the Shell police, interviewed by Project Underground,have claimed that they were involved in deliberately creating conflict betweendifferent groups of people, and in intimidating and harassing protesters; Ogonidetainees have also alleged that they were detained and beaten by Shell police.[469][469]

In January 1995, Shell stated to Human Rights Watch that"our Chief Executive in Nigeria has repeatedly-both publicly andprivately-expressed our concerns over the violence and heavy handedness bothsides on the Ogoni issue have displayed from time to time, and is doing what hecan to counsel the authorities not to do anything which will tend to increasethe likelihood of violence either to persons or property."[470][470]In response to Human Rights Watch's July 1995 report "The Ogoni Crisis: A CaseStudy of Military Repression in Southeastern Nigeria," Shell followed this up,in the face of evidence that the crackdown in Ogoni was aimed at keeping theoil flowing, by asserting: "it is difficult to conclude that the militarypresence in Ogoni is anything to do with the oil industry, especially given ourmany public announcements that we will not return to Ogoniland under militaryprotection and until law and order prevail in the area."[471][471]Shell also stated that "we play no part in any military activity in Ogonilandand have many times denied any collusion with the authorities."[472][472]

However, Shell has since admitted having made directpayments to the Nigerian security forces, in the form of "a very small fixed‘field allowance' in cases where members of the security forces have beendeployed in connection with the protection of SPDC's facilities or SPDCpersonnel."[473][473]More recently, Shell has stated that such payments were made only one time:"The payment of field allowances to Nigerian military personnel happened onlyonce, under duress, at Korokoro [in Ogoni] in 1993. SPDC has made it clear thatit will not happen again."[474][474]Environmental Rights Action, a Nigerian environmental and human rightsorganization, alleges that SPDC continues to make payments of field allowancesto soldiers in Nigeria, elsewhere in the delta, at construction works for a newairport in Osubi, and at Shell installations on the Atlantic coast at Ogulagha(Forcados), though Shell has denied this.[475][475]In January 1997, Shell withdrew a complaint tothe British BroadcastingComplaints Commission about a Channel 4 documentary on the situation in Ogoni,"Delta Force," broadcast on November 2, 1995, in which allegations were madeconcerning assistance to the military in Nigeria by SPDC.[476][476]

Shell came under great public pressure, both inside andoutside Nigeria, to intervene on behalf of the accused during the trial andfollowing the conviction of the "Ogoni Nine."[477][477]Initially, Shell stated that it would be "dangerous and wrong" for Shell to"intervene and use its perceived ‘influence' to have the judgement overturned,"stating that "a commercial organisation like Shell cannot and must neverinterfere with the legal processes of any sovereign state."[478][478]Shell called on "those who currently advocate public condemnation andpressure... to reflect on the possible results of their actions.... What isneeded from all parties is quiet diplomacy."[479][479]Nevertheless, as pressure mounted, CAJ Herkströter, the president of the RoyalDutch Petroleum Company, one of the parent companies of the Royal Dutch/ShellGroup of companies that owns SPDC of Nigeria, sent a personal letter to Gen.Abacha on November 9, 1995, pleading for commutation of the death sentencesagainst Ken Saro-Wiwa and his co-accused on humanitarian grounds. At the sametime, Shell explicitly denied that this intervention was a "comment on theproceedings of the tribunal," restating that "as a multinational company... tointerfere in such processes, whether political or legal, in any country wouldbe wrong."[480][480]

Following the trial and execution of the "Ogoni Nine," Shellapparently realized that it had been damaged by statements of this kind, andadjusted its public position, reaffirming on several occasions its commitmentto the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, while continuing to state that itcould not comment on particular cases.[481][481]In May 1996, in response to concerns about the trial facing nineteen (latertwenty) more Ogonis before the same civil disturbances special tribunal thatsentenced Saro-Wiwa, Shell stated: "The Nigerian Government has a duty toinvestigate the murder of the four Ogoni leaders. And if those investigationslead to the arrest and trial of suspects, then no-one has the right to opposedue legal process. But trials must be fair. And they must be seen to be fair."[482][482]It did not take the opportunity to state that proceedings before the specialtribunal were unfair and in violation of international standards, even though afact-finding mission sent by the U.N. secretary-general had by that dateconfirmed the opinion of domestic and international human rights observers thatthe trial was a travesty of justice.[483][483]

Shell states that its production in Ogoni has remainedclosed, although pipelines carrying oil from other Shell oilfields continue tocross the area. The company also claims that it has made attempts over theyears to open negotiations with the communities involved in order to resumeproduction. Community members, on the other hand, reported that the RiversState Internal Security Task Force forced individuals to sign statements"inviting" Shell to return.[484][484]In April 1997, a meeting between Shell and local representatives was arrangedby the National Reconciliation Committee, a body created under General Abacha'sfraudulent "transition program," which has now been disbanded. In May 1997,SPDC announced the launch of a ten-month "Ogoni Youth Training Scheme," whichwould train 366 youths in a variety of skills, including carpentry, welding,computer studies, and soap-making.[485][485]In late 1996, Shell took over the running of the Gokana hospital, and statesthat it is also involved in rehabilitation of three clinics and the donation ofdrugs to clinics in Ogoni: these efforts are dismissed by MOSOP as mere windowdressing and the quality of the programs challenged. At the same time SPDCstated that "there were no plans to resume oil production in Ogoniland, and thecompany's priority continued to be to help tackle the problems facing the Ogonipeople where it could help."[486][486]Shell also stated that it opened negotiations with MOSOP representatives(though spokespeople for MOSOP denied this), and in mid-1997 Shell believedthat "the process of reconciliation is underway and before the end of the yearthere will be a breakthrough."[487][487]MOSOP condemned these remarks as "gravely insensitive and provocative," andrepeated its demand that "for dialogue to be useful, basic freedoms must berestored in Ogoni to enable its leadership to freely meet and consult with thepeople who ultimately decide on these issues."[488][488]

Shell's statements that its presence in Ogoni is limited toprovision of social programs and attempts to arrange a reconciliation with theOgoni people are challenged by MOSOP. In March 1998, MOSOP issued a pressrelease stating that SPDC had entered Ogoni in order to work on facilities atits flow station at K-Dere. MOSOP reported that a number of Ogonis protestingtheir activities were arrested by members of the Internal Security Task Forceaccompanying Shell and their still and video cameras seized, and that they weremade to sign statements indicating that they accepted Shell's return to the area.[489][489]Responding to these charges, Shell confirmed that a team of four SPDC staff andthree contractors had entered Ogoni on March 5 and 6, as a result of reportsfrom the community of leaks from a disused oil pipeline. Shell stated that,after remedying the situation, the team, which it said was unguarded, left thearea, and that at no time did the company witness or hear about anydisturbances or arrests. Shell stated that the company had inquired of theauthorities, who had denied that anyone had been detained.[490][490]

The situation in Ogoni has recently improved greatly, as aresult of the withdrawal to barracks of the Internal Security Task Force.Nevertheless, the fundamental questions surrounding the consent of the Ogonipeople to decisions made on their behalf remain.

Attempts to Import Weapons

During 1996, it was shown that Shell had recently been innegotiation for the import of arms for use by the Nigerian police. In January1996, in response to allegations relating to the import of weapons, Shellstated that it had in the past imported side arms on behalf of the Nigerianpolice force, for use by the "supernumerary police" who are on attachment toShell and guard the company's facilities (and other oil company facilities)against general crime. The last purchase of weapons by Shell was said to be of107 hand guns for its supernumerary police, fifteen years before.[491][491]"Although approval for local purchase of arms was given by the police in 1994,SPDC decided that it would be inappropriate to proceed with the purchase.SPDCwas sensitive to the possibilitiesthat upgrading weapons purchased for the police onSPDCprotection duties could be misconstrued in theprevailing circumstances."[492][492]

Contrary to this assertion, court papers filed in Lagos inJuly 1995 and reported in the British press in February 1996 revealed thatShell had as late as February 1995 been negotiating for the purchase of weaponsfor the Nigerian police. Shell acknowledged to the LondonObserverSunday newspaper that it had conducted these negotiationsbut stated that none of the purchases had been concluded.[493][493]The weapons on order-Beretta semi-automatic rifles, pump-action shotguns andmaterials such as tear gas clearly designed for crowd control-did not seemappropriate for protection from armed robbers and "general crime." Incorrespondence with Human Rights Watch, Shell stated that the papers presentedto court did not include a final letter in the series that made it clear thatthe management of SPDC had not at any stage proposed to purchase tear gas orriot control equipment. However, Shell "cannot give an undertaking not toprovide weapons in the future, as, due to the deteriorating security situationin Nigeria, we may want to see the weapons currently used by the Police whoprotect Shell people and property upgraded. This would simply bring them up tothe same standard of firearms as those provided to Police protecting othercompanies within Nigeria."[494][494]

Threats to Communities

During its investigation of the situation in the deltaduring July 1997, Human Rights Watch heard disturbing allegations of threeseparate meetings, two in connection with the same matter, at whicheyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch alleged that SPDC staff, ormilitary authorities in the presence of SPDC staff had directly threatenedcommunity members, using the situation in Ogoni as an example. Two of thesemeetings had occurred only days before Human Rights Watch interviewed thepeople present; the third dated back two years, to the period of KenSaro-Wiwa's trial.

Contractors working for Shell reported to Human Rights Watchthat SPDC had called meetings on July 7, 1997, at the Forcados terminal and aday or two later at Shell's premises in Warri, in connection with the threat bymembers of the four communities (Sokebelou, Ekeremor Zion, Obotobo andOfogbene) who had won an award of _30 million (U.S.$333,000) against SPDC inthe Ughelli High Court to close down Shell facilities forcibly unless the awardwas paid or production suspended. They alleged that representatives of Shell,including SPDC's senior community liaison officer for its Western Division,S.O. Jonny, had warned those present that the consequences for the communitieswould be serious if the threat to shut down Shell production were carried out.In particular, S.O. Jonny is alleged to have said at both meetings that thecommunities should "remember what happened in Ogoni," since the same thingcould happen to them. Those present who spoke to Human Rights Watch, who didnot include the leaders of the court case, said that they took this statementto imply a direct threat of a crackdown from the security forces invoked bySPDC.[495][495]

In response to questions from Human Rights Watch about theseallegations, Shell stated that a "peace-making team" had been sent to talk tothe communities when the threat to close down production had been received, andhad held meetings in Sokebelou and Obotobo, where the community leaders theymet with said they did not know the writers of the letter in which the threatwas contained.

At both meetings, the production superintendent O.J. Agbarawho spoke, asked the communities to remain peaceful towards SPDC while thedifficulties over the court case were resolved. Noting that the signatories ofthe letter could not be identified, and were therefore possibly from othercommunities, he pleaded with them not to be swayed by outside influences, andso should allow production to continue uninterrupted. S.O. Jonny was on theteam but he did not speak at either meeting.[496][496]

The other meeting reported to Human RightsWatch dates from1995, in relation to the serious disturbances that took place in Egbema, ImoState, in June of that year that were described above. People who attendedstated that the meeting took place in Owerri after the disturbances, amongrepresentatives of the Imo State government, SPDC, and the community. It wasalleged to Human Rights Watch that at this meeting, attended by PreciousOmukwu, Fidelis Okonkwo, and Egbert Imomoh from SPDC, the director of the SSSfor Imo State addressed community members, including both chiefs and youthleaders, making threats that if further protests took place against Shell "theywould be treated like the Ogoni" and that there would be a security crackdown.[497][497]Asked about this meeting, Shell stated to Human Rights Watch that, while therewas a meeting convened by the state governor at which the community, supportedby SPDC, asked for the Mobile Police to be replaced by regular police, "SPDCwas not aware of the presence of an SSS Director at the State Governor'smeeting. No threats of a ‘security crackdown' or ‘treatment like the Ogoni' orany of a similar nature were made at the meeting."[498][498]Human Rights Watch has no reason to disbelieve its informants, who were presentat this meeting, in their account of what was said.[499][499]

In addition, a wealthy chief from the Egbema area told usthat SPDC was "helping" with the creation of a "vigilante group" to providesecurity in the area. There was a vigilante group operating in the village,which appeared, on the basis of our interviews with other residents, to beintimidating on an arbitrary basis those youths who might be thought to be"troublemakers."[500][500]Shell stated that "SPDC is not aware of any vigilante group and there is notruth in the allegation that it is assisting in the creation of one."[501][501]

In another case, described above, a youth fromOgba-Egbema-Ndoni local government area in Rivers State, near Elf's Obite gasproject, told Human Rights Watch that he had been assaulted in January 1997 byMobile Police at the site, and when he brought a case for damages in connectionwith the assault, threatened in September 1997 by a manager with C&CConstruction, a contractor at the site, that he should "learn the lessons" fromKen Saro-Wiwa's case, when he refused to settle a claim.[502][502]

Oil Company Calls for Security Force Assistance

The most serious case in which an oil company is directlyimplicated in security force abuses continues to be the incident at Umuechem in1990, where an SPDC manager made a written and explicit request for MobilePolice (a notoriously abusive force) protection, leading to the killing ofeighty unarmed civilians and the destruction of hundreds of homes. Shell statesthat it has learned from the "regrettable and tragic" incident at Umuechem, sothat it would now never call for Mobile Police protection and emphasizes theneed for restraint to the Nigerian authorities.[503][503]Nevertheless, there are continuing reports of oil company calls for militaryand Mobile Police protection in response to protests at oil company facilities.In other cases, companies have called for regular police assistance, butwithout seeking any guarantees or taking any steps to ensure that suchassistance is respectful of human rights, or protesting abuses that haveoccurred as a result. In none of the following cases had the oil companies madepublic or protested detentions or other abuses by the security forces, eventhough requests by the company or a contractor had led to security forceintervention.

The youths from Edagberi, Rivers State, for example, weredetained overnight following a written complaint to the local police station byAlcon Engineering, a contractor to Shell. While it is claimed by Shell that theyouths concerned had been engaged in unwarranted intimidation of itscontractor, including "extortion" of cement and diesel that had not been partof the initial agreement with the community, and therefore that security forceintervention was appropriate, the letter simply appealed for "quickintervention to save us from further harassment, violent threats and attack,"without seeking any safeguards to ensure that such intervention was made in anon-abusive manner. Nor did the company claim any attempt to seek independentmediation of the dispute over compensation.[504][504]

Similarly, at Yenezue-Gene, Rivers State, Shell stated toHuman Rights Watch that its contractors, including Mife and Deutag, had calledfor police assistance, "due to community hostilities," in order "to protectlife and property."[505][505]No guarantees had been sought for the good behavior of these police; and,according to Human Rights Watch's information, soldiers present at the site hadharassed local community members. Shell itself had made a major contribution tohostility from the community by the construction of a causeway to its Gbaranoil field which had devastated forest of crucial economic importance to localresidents; although Shell reported that some compensation payments had beenmade, these were, apparently, not determined by an independent arbitrator butby SPDC itself.

At Iko, Akwa Ibom State, the Shell contractor WesternGeophysical stated that it had requested naval assistance to recover boatstaken by youths; following the naval intervention, Mobile Police came to thevillage and assaulted numerous villagers, beating one to death. Shell hasstated to Human Rights Watch that it does not call for military protection, butjustified calling the navy in this case due to the terrain; it stated that theMobile Police had been called by the navy and not by Shell or its contractor.Shell did not report that the company or its contractor had made any attempt toprotest the Mobile Police action, simply reporting that "this incident isunrelated to Western's seismic activities."[506][506]

A spokesman for Chevron acknowledged in a radio interviewthat the company had called for navy intervention in connection with the May1998 occupation of its Parabe platform by youths, admitted to be unarmed, andthat the company had flown the navy and Mobile Police to the platform. Despitethe serious result of this action, including the shooting dead of twoprotesters, Chevron did not indicate, in response to specific inquiries fromHuman Rights Watch, that any attempt had been made to prevent loss of life, orthat concern had been expressed to the authorities over the incident or thatany steps had been taken to avoid repetition of the case in future. Instead,Chevron stated that: "We believe we have fully explained the circumstancessurrounding this incident and we do not intend to engage in furthercorrespondence with Human Rights Watch on this issue."[507][507]

Oil Company Failure to Monitor and Protest Abuses

Even if they have not called for security forceintervention, Human Rights Watch believes that oil companies should monitorsecurity force activity in connection with their facilities and protest abuses.In the great majority of cases, however, oil companies have not given anyindication that they have protested human rights violations to the Nigeriangovernment. In a handful of high-profile cases of detention, one or two oilcompanies have, under consumer pressure in Europe and the U.S., made publicstatements, but the great majority go unremarked. In none of the casesresearched by Human Rights Watch which had not reached the international pressdid any of the oil companies indicate that they had registered concern with theauthorities. Only after the behavior of the Nigerian authorities hadembarrassed the oil companies on the international stage had oil companiestaken action of any kind on behalf of those who had been subject to abuse bythe security forces. In other cases, the oil companies maintained they wereunaware of incidents reported to Human Rights Watch when we questioned themabout interventions they might have made on behalf of individuals detained,even though the incidents related to claims for compensation from the company,or stated that arbitrary detentions and other abuses that had occurred were ofno concern because those affected were accused of criminal offenses. BecauseAgip chose not to respond to Human Rights Watch's inquiries about specificincidents, we have no way of knowing whether the company monitors or acts uponhuman rights abuses of this type; there is no indication from other sourcesthat it does so.

In several of the cases recorded by Human Rights Watch, theoil companies concerned said they were ignorant of arrests or beatings that hadoccurred, suggesting either a lack of interest and concern at what goes on atthe gates of their facilities or a breakdown of communication between local andnational (or international) management. SPDC said it had no knowledge of theincident in January 1997 at Ahia flow station in Omudioga, Rivers State, whentwelve youths were detained for one month, stating that "the relationship withthe community has been cordial." Shell also denied knowledge of detentions thattook place following major disturbances during June and July 1995 at Egbema,Imo State, during which Mobile Police carried out indiscriminate beatings and arrestedmore than thirty people, who were detained for several weeks and charged withsabotage. Instead, SPDC stated that the issue had been "amicably settled,"through negotiations between the community and the military administration. Noindependent arbitration had been sought. Again, the incident reported to HumanRights Watch at Obotobo, Delta State, in which soldiers threatened thecommunity was said to be unknown to Shell. At Yenezue-Gene, Rivers State,Shell, despite a pattern of harassment noted by Human Rights Watch, stated that"The overall relationship between the community and MIFE [its contractor] hadbeen cordial."

Even when people are killed by the security forces defendingoil installations or responding to requests for assistance, it seems that theoil companies do not make public reports of such incidents or protest excessesto the authorities, and at the same time refuse to accept any legalresponsibility. Neither Shell nor its contractor Western Geophysical reportedmaking any representations to the authorities surrounding the excessive use offorce in respect of the death at Iko, Akwa Ibom State. Chevron, on the otherhand, in the case of the youth killed in disputed circumstances at Opuama,Bayelsa State, paid _250,000 (U.S.$2,770) to the families concerned "oncompassionate grounds" but stated to Human Rights Watch that the responsibilityfor the death was "entirely a police affair," nothing to do with Chevron, eventhough the facility involved was a barge contracted to Chevron. Chevron gave noindication to Human Rights Watch that they had expressed concern to theauthorities at the death or the conduct of the Mobile Police.[508][508]Agip, in the case of the youth beaten to death by security guards at the CloughCreek flow station, near Egbemo-Angalabiri, did not respond to communityrepresentations (nor to Human Rights Watch), and there is no reason to believethat any protests were made to the authorities about this killing or about thedetentions which followed.

In the case from Elele, Rivers State, Elf made no attempt toassist the youth who was detained after he went to Saipem, their contractor, torequest compensation for use of family land, a large part of which had beentaken for oil production activities. Nor is there any indication that thecompany protested the abuses with the authorities (whether or not Saipem wasresponsible for summoning the soldiers who beat the young man). Again, the fivemembers of the landholders family in Obobura, Rivers State, who were detainedafter an oil leak on their land and threatened with a charge of sabotage, hadreceived no support from Elf. Meanwhile, their claim for compensation for thespill had been rejected on the basis of an assessment by Elf, apparentlyrubber-stamped by the Department of Petroleum Resources, leaving them withoutcrops to harvest and without financial recompense. Elf denied any knowledge ofPrince Ugo, a youth beaten by community "guards" at the Elf Obite gas projectin October 1998. While the company was aware of the fact that a number of otheryouths had been detained, it said that it "could not tell the law enforcementagencies what to do," and hence no intervention to ensure respect for humanrights standards had been made.[509][509]Similarly, SPDC reported no attempt to protest to the government authorities orto the local traditional leader whom they stated had called the securityforces, following the overnight detention of youths at Uheri, Delta State,after they protested delays in the payment of compensation at the flow station.

When several hundred people were arrested followingdemonstrations over the January 12, 1998 spill, Mobil did publicly distanceitself from the arrests. However, Mobil did not indicate that any protests hadbeen made to the authorities, stating to reporters in Lagos: "It is a securityissue. It is nothing to do with Mobil at all."[510][510]

Shell's Internal Review Since 1995

Since the international focus on its Nigerian holdings in1995, the Royal Dutch/Shell group has undertaken a major review of its attitudetoward communities and issues of human rights and sustainable development.[511][511]As one part of this initiative, the company undertook, over the course of aboutone year, an internal and external consultation process about the group'sStatement of General Business Principles. Following this process, RoyalDutch/Shell adopted in March 1997 a new Statement of General BusinessPrinciples, which recognized five "areas of responsibility," to shareholders,to customers, to employees, to those with whom they do business, and to society.As regards their responsibilities to society, Shell companies are nowcommitted: "To conduct business as responsible corporate members of society, toobserve the laws of the countries in which they operate, to express support forfundamental human rights in line with the legitimate role of business and togive proper regard to health, safety and the environment consistent with theircommitment to contribute to sustainable development." This was the first timethat the group had included a general commitment to human rights principles orsustainable development in such a document.[512][512]

In May 1997, at the annual general meeting of the U.K.-basedShell Transport and Trading Company PLC, one of the parent companies of theRoyal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies (the other being the Netherlands-basedRoyal Dutch Petroleum Company, which holds a 60 percent interest to ShellTransport and Trading's 40 percent) the first shareholder resolution in theU.K. based on environmental and ethical grounds was jointly sponsored byPensions Investment Research Consultants Ltd (PIRC) and the Ecumenical Centrefor Corporate Responsibility (ECCR). The resolution called for Shell to: (I)designate responsibility for the implementation of environmental and corporateresponsibility policies to a named member of the Committee of ManagingDirectors; (ii) establish effective internal procedures for the implementationand monitoring of such policies; (iii) establish an independent external reviewand audit procedure for such policies; (iv) report to shareholders regularly onthe implementation of such policies; and (v) publish a report to shareholderson the implementation of such policies in relation to the company's operationsin Nigeria by the end of 1997.

Prior to the meeting, Shell took steps to address many ofthe proposal's recommendations: the group designated a senior director to beresponsible for corporate responsibility issues, made a commitment to humanrights in its revised Statement of General Business Principles, published areport on the operations of SPDC, its Nigerian subsidiary and its firstgroup-wide report on health, safety, and the environment. At the meeting, themanagement also said that it agreed in principle with a policy of externalverification of environmental information but rejected this approach for thetime being.[513][513]Shell has also taken steps to integrate its commitment to "express support forfundamental human rights" into its internal management procedures, requiringdirectors of Shell group companies to make annual statements to Shellheadquarters indicating that they have complied with the requirements of theStatement of General Business Principles, in the same way that they have tomake statements of compliance with financial and other standards. Shell hasalso produced a "management primer" on human rights issues for distributionthroughout the group.

At its 1998 annual shareholders meeting, Shell Internationalpublished a new report,Profits andPrinciples-does there have to be a choice?, which "describes how we, thepeople, companies and businesses that make up the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, arestriving to live up to our responsibilities-financial, social andenvironmental."[514][514]The report examined the company's performance under its new business principles,and considered the case of Nigeria, repeating many of its previous statements."Shell's approach" to the "issues and dilemmas" surrounding human rights isstated as follows:

We support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,and have made specific reference to it in our Business Principles. This is whatwe have done to ensure we act in the best possible way when confronted withhuman rights issues.

•We speak outin defence of human rights when we feel it is justified to do so.

•We includedspecific references to human rights in our Business Principles when they wereupdated in 1997. This followed widespread consultation with many differentinterest groups, including those defending human rights.

•We engage indiscussion on human rights issues when making business decisions.

•We haveestablished a regular dialogue with groups which defend human rights....

•We aresetting up Social Responsibility Management Systems designed to help in theimplementation of our Business Principles, and therefore our stated support forhuman rights.

•We aredeveloping awareness training and management procedures to help resolve humanrights dilemmas when they arise. This includes a guide to human rights formanagers.[515][515]

In Nigeria, Shell has engaged in a review of its communityassistance projects, and has held its first "stakeholder workshop" on theenvironment, reportedly attended by over eighty individuals fromnongovernmental organizations, government regulatory bodies, industryspecialists, academics and community representatives, as well as a "communitydevelopment listeners' symposium" considering its development programs.[516][516]However, not all are convinced of the genuineness of this consultative process:Environmental Rights Action, the most vocal environmental group operating inthe delta, turned down an invitation to participate in the workshop, statingthat "after several meetings and consultations with Shell officials within andoutside Nigeria which yielded no concrete results because SPDC would not carryout its promises, the organisation would not be part of another talkshop."[517][517]

No other oil company operating in Nigeria has, so far asHuman Rights Watch is aware, undertaken any similar review of its policies andpractices as a result of concern over human rights violations committed inconnection with oil company operations. While we welcome this introspection,the test of its effectiveness in changing Shell's practice can only be gaugedby its performance on the ground in countries like Nigeria. It is too soon totell whether this performance will be changed.


Nigeria is a party to the International Covenant on Civiland Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Socialand Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and to a number of other international humanrights instruments, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.[518][518]The Nigerian military government is in violation of many if not most of therights enumerated in these instruments.

Human Rights Watch's research for this report focused on therepressive response by the Nigerian military to protests by members of the oilproducing communities to the oil companies, and to attempts to organize theminorities of the delta politically. In the course of this repression, the Nigerianmilitary authorities violate the rights of Nigerian citizens to express theirviews about the oil industry in Nigeria and to organize protests at injusticesresulting from oil industry activities. However, the rights violated includenot only the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, butalso the broader right to live in a democratic society. Ultimately, theNigerian government must address the rights of the peoples of the Niger Deltato health, education and an adequate standard of living, including food,clothing and housing, and to participate in democratic political structuresthat enable their voices to be heard in matters concerning the oil industry andthe development of their society.

It is clear that a solution to the human rights abusesfacing the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta must take into accounttheir relationship with the natural resources with which their region isendowed and ensure that peoples living in the delta are compensated for thedamage to their environment and livelihood caused by oil production.Furthermore, it must be ensured that Nigeria's oil wealth is not siphoned offby a small and unaccountable military or civilian elite, but spent bydemocratically elected and transparent political institutions. Delta minoritygroups have called for a renegotiation of the relationship between the peoplesof the oil producing regions and the federation.[519][519]

For this to occur, the first requirement is that thegovernment respect the rights to political participation and to freedom ofexpression and association, and restore the rule of law. Articles 19, 21, and22 of the ICCPR provide for the rights to freedom of expression, peacefulassembly, and association. These rights may only be restricted in limitedcircumstances. In the case of freedom of association and assembly, restrictionsare only allowed if they are prescribed by law and are "necessary in ademocratic society in the interests of national security or public order (ordre public), the protection of publichealth or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

While the Nigerian government might attempt to argue thatprotests in the vicinity of oil installations threaten national security, it isclear that the violent repression of nonviolent protest and of attempts toorganize to challenge oil company activity by peaceful means is in violation ofthe rights to free expression, assembly, and association, and not within anyreasonable national security exception.[520][520]If individuals have allegedly carried out violent acts, damaged property, takenhostages, or other crimes, then they should rather be charged with thoseoffenses and promptly brought before a regular court recognizing internationalstandards of due process.

The ICCPR provides that "No one shall be subjected totorture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (Article7); that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention" (Article9); and that, "In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or ofhis rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to afair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunalestablished by law" (Article 14). Article 14 of the ICCPR covers not onlycriminal charges, but also cases where an individual wishes to bring a civilaction against another individual or company or similar legal entity forcompensation for loss suffered as a result of the other party's actions. All ofthese articles have been regularly violated in Nigeria's oil producing regions.


The activities of MOSOP and the trial and execution of the"Ogoni Nine" in November 1995 brought to the international stage injusticesthat until then had been largely hidden from international view. The outragefelt at the executions, despite pleas for clemency from around the globe,brought an unprecedented reaction from an international community that hadpreviously paid little attention to the human rights violations associated withthe oil industry in Nigeria.[521][521]

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) whichwas taking place in Auckland, New Zealand at the time of the executionsimmediately demonstrated its outrage by suspending Nigeria from theCommonwealth, the first time that this step had been taken. Nigeria was giventwo years within which to comply with the terms of the Commonwealth HarareDeclaration, which commits Commonwealth members to democratic governance.[522][522]An eight-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) was appointed toconsider persistent violations of the Harare principles, which has metperiodically since 1995 with Nigeria at the top of its agenda.[523][523]In April 1996, CMAG recommended sanctions to be adopted by the Commonwealthagainst Nigeria, though these were never adopted.[524][524]

Nigeria remains suspended from the Commonwealth, althoughthe CHOGM meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, in October 1997, decided not to expelthe country, despite lack of progress toward fulfilling the Harare principles.CMAG met for the first time since the death of General Abacha on October 8 and9, 1998, and adopted a statement welcoming the positive steps taken by GeneralAbubakar, recommending that member states begin to lift bilateral sanctions againstNigeria, and deciding to meet again following the presidential electionsscheduled for February 27, 1999, with a view to making recommendationsregarding the full return of Nigeria to the Commonwealth.[525][525]

The United Nations and International Labour Organization

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution onNigeria on December 22, 1995, in which it condemned the executions of KenSaro-Wiwa and the others, welcomed the steps taken by the Commonwealth, andexpressed "the hope that these actions and other possible actions by otherStates" would encourage Nigeria to restore democratic rule, thus (unusually)encouraging member states to impose their own sanctions even without SecurityCouncil action.[526][526]The U.N. secretary general sent a fact-finding mission to Nigeria in April1996, which reported damningly on the trial and execution of the "Ogoni Nine,"while also commenting on the general human rights situation in Nigeria. Theteam recommended, among other things, that the Nigerian government establish "apanel of eminent jurists" to consider financial compensation for the relativesof those hanged, and that a committee chaired by a retired judge and includingrepresentatives of the Ogoni and other minority communities makerecommendations in connection with the economic and social conditions in thosecommunities.[527][527]

In 1997, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights voted toappoint a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Nigeria,having failed to do so in 1996. The Nigerian government refused to allow therapporteur, Indian attorney-general Soli Jehangir Sorabjee, entry to Nigeria,and his report to the 1998 session of the commission was therefore based oninformation gathered outside the country. The report concluded that "widespreadviolation of human rights occurs in Nigeria," that "the Nigerian legal systemdoes not currently provide effective protection of human rights," and that "therule of law does not prevail in Nigeria," as well as detailing a range ofspecific abuses. In addition, "The Government has failed to address the plightof the Ogoni people and to protect their human rights. The recommendation ofthe Secretary-General's fact-finding mission concerning the appointment of acommittee for introducing improvement in the socio-economic conditions ofminority communities has been ignored." Moreover, "The Nigerian government isindifferent towards the right to development and to a satisfactory environment.Issues relating to environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region allegedto be caused by the operations of the Shell Petroleum Development Company havereceived insufficient attention."[528][528]

In May 1998, the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social andCultural Rights considered Nigeria's initial report under the Convention onEconomic Social and Cultural Rights. The committee "note[d] with alarm theextent of the devastation that oil exploration has done to the environment andquality of life in the areas such as Ogoniland where oil has been discoveredand extracted without due regard to the health and well-being of the people andtheir environment," and recommended that "[t]he rights of minority and ethniccommunities-including the Ogoni people-should be respected and full redressshould be provided for the violations of the rights set forth in the Covenantthat they have suffered."[529][529]The Commission voted, by revolution 1998/64, to extend the special rapporteur'smandate by another year.

The report of the special rapporteur to the 1998 session ofthe General Assembly noted improvements in the human rights situation sinceGeneral Abubakar came to power, but also reported that many human rightsproblems remained essentially unchanged. The report repeated the majority ofthe recommendations to the Commission on Human Rights, while endorsing theconclusions of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[530][530]The rapporteur was finally able to visit Nigeria in November 1998, and traveledto Ogoni, where he urged the appointment of an independent inquiry intoenvironmental and human rights problems in the delta.[531][531]

In March 1998, in light of the continued detention of unionleaders and violations of ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association, theGoverning Body of the International Labor Organization voted to establish acommission of inquiry into abuses of labor rights in Nigeria, its strongestexpression of disapproval. Following the death of General Abacha, when the newgovernment released detained union leaders and repealed several decreesrestricting union activity, the ILO suspended the work of the commission ofinquiry and gave the government the opportunity instead of receiving a "directcontacts mission." Such a mission visited Nigeria from August 17 to 21, 1998and reported to the meeting of the ILO Governing Body held in November 1998,noting the improved situation, including the release of detained tradeunionists from the oil sector and the repeal of decrees dissolving the nationalexecutives of oil unions, but recommending further steps by the Nigeriangovernment to respect freedom of association.[532][532]

The African Commission

On December 18 and 19, 1995, at the instance of Nigerian andinternational nongovernmental organizations, the African Commission on Humanand Peoples' Rights (an organ of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)) heldits second ever extraordinary session at Kampala, Uganda, in order to considerthe human rights situation in Nigeria. The commission resolved to send afact-finding mission to Nigeria as a result of this session. The missionfinally traveled to Nigeria in March 1997, but the commission has not yet madea public report of its findings. In October 1998, the Commission finallydecided on communications brought before it in relation to the trial andexecution of the Ogoni Nine, alleging violations of articles 4, 7, 9, 16, and26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.[533][533]

The European Union and its Member States

Following the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and hisco-defendants, the European Union imposed sanctions on Nigeria additional tothose adopted following the annulment of the 1993 elections and subsequentmilitary coup.[534][534]Since 1995, no further sanctions have been imposed, although the EuropeanParliament called for an oil embargo on Nigeria under the Abacha government onseveral occasions, as did the ACP-E.U. Joint Assembly (in which members of theEuropean Parliament meet with representatives of the African, Caribbean, andPacific (ACP) states every six months).

Following the election of the Labour Party government in May1997, the U.K. took a much stronger line on Nigeria, though it ruled out aunilateral oil embargo against Nigeria (because of the similarity of Nigerianto Brent crude, the U.K. imports little Nigerian oil in any event). As a formof retaliation for this stance, the European office of NNPC was relocated fromLondon to Paris: even though the great majority of Nigerian crude is tradedthrough London, the Nigerian government cited "commercial reasons" for themove. With the death of Abacha, the NNPC London office has been reopened.[535][535]The U.K.'s Department for Trade and Industry continued to sponsor trademissions to Nigeria during Abacha's regime, apparently against the wishes ofthe Foreign and Commonwealth Office; British trade to Nigeria has neverthelessdeclined in recent years. France and Germany, Nigeria's other largest tradingpartners in Europe, consistently advocated a softer line, and both countriesrepeatedly granted visas for visits by Nigerian officials, in violation of E.U.measures against Nigeria. In the case of France, former petroleum minister DanEtete visited on several occasions, presumably for discussions about the Frenchrole in the oil industry. Elf and Total were prominent in lobbying forincreased business with Nigeria, and were rewarded with contracts from theNigerian government. Both U.K. prime minister Tony Blair and French presidentJacques Chirac met with General Abubakar in September 1998.

On October 28, 1998, the Council of Ministers of theEuropean Union voted to remove most of the sanctions applied to the Nigeriangovernment.[536][536]All measures other than the embargo on arms, munitions and military equipment,the suspension of military cooperation, and the cancellation of trainingcourses for Nigerian military personnel (except for non-combative courses toencourage respect for human rights and prepare the military for democraticcontrol by a civilian government) were repealed, and members of the Nigerianmilitary and government are now able to travel freely to E.U. countries.[537][537]The assistant chief of defense staff in the U.K., Maj. Gen. Christopher Drewry,traveled to Nigeria shortly after this decision, to discuss the resumption ofmilitary cooperation.[538][538]

The United States

Following the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and hisco-defendants, the U.S., like the European Union, imposed additional sanctionson Nigeria.[539][539]More recently, the Clinton administration's position on Nigeria at timesappeared confused and directionless. In March 1998, for example, in advance ofPresident Clinton's trip to Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for AfricanAffairs Susan Rice stated that "electoral victory by any military candidate inthe forthcoming presidential election in Nigeria would be unacceptable." InSouth Africa, however, Clinton himself stated only that "if Abacha stands, wehope he will stand as a civilian."[540][540]

Some members of the U.S. Congress tried to play a role instrengthening U.S. policy on Nigeria under the Abacha government. In November1995, Senator Nancy Kassebaum and Congressman Donald Payne introduced bills (S1419and HR2697) which would have codified existing sanctions in place, as well asprohibiting any new investment in Nigeria, including in the energy sector, andimposing an asset freeze on members of the Nigerian government, a ban on airlinks and other measures. Payne's bill was reintroduced in June 1997, and inMay 1998, Representatives Donald Payne and Ben Gilman introduced a new bill,(HR3890), and Senator Russell Feingold a companion bill (S2102), which set outbenchmarks for the lifting of existing sanctions, although neither included theadditional economic measures proposed in the 1995 drafts. Various committees ofthe Senate and House of Representatives also held hearings on U.S. policytowards Nigeria, at which several Nigerian and U.S. human rights and oppositiongroups argued in favor of a unilateral oil embargo, opposed by representativesof the administration, the Corporate Council on Africa, and RepresentativeWilliam Jefferson and former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun.

Several U.S. cities and counties have adopted resolutionsforbidding municipal authorities from purchasing products from Nigeria or fromcompanies that do business in Nigeria.[541][541]There was also an initiative to introduce legislation for similar sanctions inthe Maryland state legislature in March 1998, which was defeated: DeputyAssistant Secretary David Marchick gave testimony on behalf of the Clintonadministration opposing the bill. U.S.-based oil companies, including Mobil,Chevron, Texaco, and others, invested in lobbying campaigns against unilateralsanctions by U.S. government institutions, through the Corporate Council onAfrica, a coalition of U.S. corporations known as USA Engage, and bilaterally.[542][542]

With the death of Abacha, the U.S. joined other states andmultilateral bodies in welcoming the changes brought by General Abubakar, andUnder Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering led adelegation to Abuja (in whose presence MKO Abiola collapsed from a heartattack). Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security AffairsFranklin D. Kramer visited Nigeria in September 1998; the deputy commander ofthe U.S. European Command, Admiral Charles Abbot, visited in November. OnOctober 30, 1998, the U.S. joined the E.U. in lifting visa restrictions on the Nigerianmilitary and government. Other sanctions consequent on the denial ofcounter-narcotics certification under Section 481 of the Foreign AssistanceAct, including opposition to loans from development institutions, remain inplace, as does the ban on direct air flights to the U.S. due to safetyconcerns. General Abubakar met with President Clinton in September 1998, whilevisiting the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly; Special PresidentialEnvoy for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa Jesse Jackson traveled toNigeria in November.

Codes of Conduct for Business

There have been few serious attempts by governments wherethe international oil companies have their headquarters to hold those companiesto the same standards outside their jurisdictions as they are obliged to followunder national (or, for example, E.U.) regulations. One of the few statementscriticizing the oil companies was made in November 1997 by Dutch minister fordevelopment cooperation Jan Pronk, who commented at a seminar that RoyalDutch/Shell had "on balance" done too little for the Ogoni during its years ofoperation in that community. Later, under pressure, he partially retracted thestatement, saying that Shell had "taken steps to counter the negative effectsof its operations."[543][543]

Efforts to establish binding codes of conduct formultinationals have been, to date, unsuccessful, although there are a number ofvoluntary codes proposed by nongovernmental and intergovernmentalorganizations, and by individual governments. Perhaps most significant of theseefforts, because the business sector itself played a role in drafting it, isthe ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning MultinationalEnterprises and Social Policy, adopted by the ILO Governing Body in 1977. Thedeclaration states that "all Parties concerned by this Declaration shouldrespect the sovereign rights of States, obey the national laws and regulations,give due consideration to local practices and respect relevant internationalstandards. They should respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights andthe corresponding International Covenants adopted by the General Assembly ofthe United Nations as well as the Constitution of the International LabourOrganization and its principles according to which freedom of expression andassociation are essential to sustained progress. They should also honourcommitments which they have freely entered into, in conformity with thenational law and accepted international obligations."[544][544]The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also adopted aDeclaration and Guidelines on International Investment for MultinationalEnterprises in 1976, since revised several times.

The U.N. Commission on Transnational Corporations,established in 1974, developed a draft U.N. Code of Conduct on TransnationalCorporations which was submitted to the U.N. Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC) in 1990, though it has not been adopted by the General Assembly.Paragraph 14 of the draft code provides that "Transnational corporations shallrespect human rights and fundamental freedoms in the countries in which theyoperate. In their social and industrial relations, transnational corporationsshall not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, language,social, national and ethnic origin or political or other opinion."[545][545]In 1994, the Commission on Transnational Corporations was moved from itsposition under ECOSOC to become a commission of the Trade and DevelopmentBoard, and was renamed the Commission on International Investment andTransnational Corporations, reflecting a shift in emphasis from holdingcompanies accountable for their activities to the promotion of foreign directinvestment in developing countries.

Various branches of the U.S. government have taken steps toimpose obligations on U.S. businesses operating abroad with respect to humanrights, as well as, more commonly, with economic objectives in view. The mostsignificant legislative initiative in this regard was the ComprehensiveAnti-Apartheid Act (CAAA) of 1986, since repealed, designed to limit investmentin South Africa under the apartheid regime. In 1996, the U.S. passedlegislation, partially modeled on the CAAA, giving the president authority toprohibit new investment by U.S. citizens or companies in Burma if the Burmesemilitary government physically harmed, rearrested or exiled opposition leaderAung Sang Suu Kyi, or committed large scale oppression against the politicalopposition. In May 1995, President Clinton announced a set of "model business principles,"a voluntary code of ethics to be used by U.S.-based multinational companies,which supports respect for fundamental human and labor rights, though withoutsufficient detail as to give clear guidance. There have been discussions aboutthe establishment of an E.U. code of conduct for multinationals, prompted bythe European Parliament, but these have yet to lead to any concrete steps.

The OECD adopted on November 21, 1997, a Convention onCombating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International BusinessTransactions, which was signed by the twenty-nine members of the OECD and fiveother governments (Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile and the Slovak Republic).When it comes into force, the convention commits OECD members to "takesuchmeasures as may be necessary to establish that it is a criminal offence underits law for any person intentionally to offer, promise or give any unduepecuniary or other advantage, whether directly or through intermediaries, to aforeign public official, for that official or for a third party, in order thatthe official act or refrain from acting in relation to the performance ofpublic duties, in order to obtain or retain business or other improperadvantage in the conduct of international business."[546][546]In the U.S., the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime "to make use ofthe mails or any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly infurtherance of an offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of thepayment of any money, or offer, gift, promise to give, or authorization of thegiving of anything of value to any foreign official" for the purposes ofinfluencing any act or decision of a foreign government.[547][547]Within the E.U., the rules vary, but payment of bribes overseas is generallynot illegal and is even tax-deductible in some countries. The E.U. Council ofMinisters adopted, in October 1997, a Common Position making provision formember states to support the drawing up of international instruments makingbribery of foreign officials a criminal offence.[548][548]


The oil companies and the communities they operate in occupytwo different worlds, geographically overlapping but conceptually light-yearsapart. The oil companies see themselves as carrying out a legitimate business,which makes a major contribution to the Nigerian economy. They regret, at leastofficially, the lack of democracy in Nigeria, the abuses carried out againstthe oil producing communities by the security forces, and the failure of theNigerian government to spend the oil wealth wisely, in particular in the oilproducing communities themselves, but represent these problems as essentiallynothing to do with the commercial companies that produce the oil. Nevertheless,as a gesture of goodwill, as they would see it, and in partial recognition ofthe deficiencies of the Nigerian government, they invest substantial amounts ofmoney in development projects in the communities where they operate. While theyadmit there are some negative environmental consequences of oil production, theoil companies argue that these are both exaggerated and in any event entirelyoutweighed by the benefits they bring. Despite this contribution, oil companymanagers state that they operate in Nigeria in a thankless, even hostilepolitical environment. Although their relations with the federal governmenthave recently improved, they still face difficulties in obtaining payment ofthe sums due to them under their joint ventures. Furthermore, oil companypersonnel state that they see no reason why they should answer to thecommunities in which they work, when they are simply carrying out their normalactivities, for which they have received government licenses. They viewcommunity protests as unrealistic demands on them to take on responsibilitiesthat are properly the domain of the government, protests which at times amountto simple criminal extortion, sabotage, or intimidation.

For the communities, on the other hand, the oil companiesand their contractors are often the most visible manifestation of centralgovernment in their areas. They know that the oil companies are operating jointventures with the government; they see the oil installations guarded by federalpolice or soldiers, and the rapid response from the federal or state governmentif there is any threat to oil production. They draw the conclusion that the oilcompanies and the government are so closely linked as to be effectively thesame thing, an idea backed by the government's own comments. They accordinglymake their demands for greater revenue allocation to the delta-as well as forcompensation for the damage wrought by oil production-of the oil companies asthey do of the government, and blame the oil companies as they do thegovernment for the repression with which their demands are met. The communitiesare well aware that the oil companies are making large profits out of what theysee as "their" oil, and believe that these profits bring with themresponsibilities towards the traditional landholders. At the same time, theysee that a few individuals in their communities, the contractors andtraditional rulers, have profited handsomely from oil production-during thesame period that land has become less fertile and fish catches declined.Communities want compensation for loss of livelihood caused by landexpropriations, oil spills, and other effects of oil production, yet findthemselves forced to accept assessments of compensation valued by the oilcompanies themselves, with no meaningful way of obtaining an independentdetermination of their loss. The few school blocks and unfinished water schemesdo not satisfy their view of what an "oil producing community" should looklike. In these circumstances, while most requests for compensation orassistance are settled peacefully, even if not to the satisfaction of allsides, community members do sometimes resort to actions such as shutting downflowstations, taking hostages, or committing criminal damage-actions theyregard as political statements of their right to participate in the prosperitycurrently restricted to a small elite.

In the face of the threat to oil production caused by someof these protests, the Nigerian government has created a number of special taskforces handling security in the oil producing areas, of which the most notoriousand brutal is the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, created inresponse to the Ogoni crisis. While the Internal Security Task Force has beenrecalled to barracks, the paramilitary Mobile Police remain deployed in thedelta, as throughout Nigeria; Operation Flush and Operation Salvage, anti-crimeforces created in Rivers and Bayelsa States, are still in operation; and thenavy is used to maintain order in the riverine areas. The oil companiesoperating in Nigeria also hire "supernumerary police," recruited and trained bythe Nigerian police force, but paid for by the oil companies; as well asprivate firms for routine security provision at entrance barriers and otherduties at their premises, and local "guards" from among landholders across whoseland pipelines run or where other facilities are built.

Nigeria's new head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, hasgreatly reduced the repression enforced by his predecessor, Gen. Sani Abacha,who died in June 1998, releasing many political prisoners and relaxingrestrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association. Nevertheless,the response of the security forces to threats to oil production continues tobe heavy handed, and in the oil regions human and environmental rightsactivists report little change. As in the past, there continue to be incidentsin which the paramilitary Mobile Police, the regular police, or the army, havebeaten, detained, or even killed those involved in protests, peaceful orotherwise, or individuals who have called for compensation for oil damage,whether youths, women, children, or traditional leaders. In some cases, membersof the community are beaten or detained indiscriminately, irrespective of theirrole in any protest. The decrees are still in force that allow detentionwithout trial and establish special tribunals to try cases of "civildisturbances" or sabotage without due process protections.

There can be no solution to the simmering conflict in theoil producing areas of the delta until its people gain the right to participatein their own governance and until the protection of the rule of law is extendedto their communities. The injustices facing the peoples of the delta are inmany ways the same as those facing all Nigerians after decades of rule by successivemilitary regimes, yet in the oil producing regions the suppression of politicalactivity, the lack of legal redress for damage to the environment and theresulting loss of livelihood, and the sheer ubiquity of human rights abuses bythe region's security forces have generated greater protest, in turn generatinggreater repression.

The first responsibility for resolving these injustices lieswith the Nigerian government. Yet the multinational oil companies operating inNigeria cannot avoid their own share of responsibility. It is not enough simplyto say that the political environment in Nigeria is as difficult for the oilcompanies as it is for anyone else, and that the oil industry does not have thepower to alter government policy towards the oil regions: the oil companies inmany respects contribute towards the discontent in the delta and to conflictwithin and between communities that results in repressive government responses.Companies have a duty to avoid both complicity and advantage from human rightsabuses: the oil companies in Nigeria must take all steps to ensure that oilproduction does not continue at the cost of their host communities simplybecause of the threat or actual use of force against those who protest theiractivities.


Copyright © January 1999 by Human Rights Watch.

All rights reserved.

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Human Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. Our reputation for timely, reliable disclosures has made us an essential source of information for those concerned with human rights. We address the human rights practices of governments of all political stripes, of all geopolitical alignments, and of all ethnic and religious persuasions. Human Rights Watch defends freedom of thought and expression, due process and equal protection of the law, and a vigorous civil society; we document and denounce murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, discrimination, and other abuses of internationally recognized human rights. Our goal is to hold governments accountable if they transgress the rights of their people.

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[1][1]Sarah AhmedKhan,Nigeria: The Political Economy ofOil(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), p.189; Tom Forrest,Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria(Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995), p.133.

[2][2]Nigeria: Selected Issues and StatisticalAppendix,IMF Staff Country Report No.98/78 (Washington DC: InternationalMonetary Fund, August 1998), pp.6 to 11.

[3][3]U.S. EnergyInformation Administration (U.S. EIA), "Nigeria Country Analysis Brief,"December 1997.

[4][4]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I; Volume I: Environmental andSocio-Economic Characteristics(Lagos: Niger Delta Environmental Survey,September 1997), p.195.

[5][5]JonathanBearman, "Squandered Inheritance,"FinancialTimes(London), June 7, 1998.

[6][6]U.S. EIA,"Nigeria Country Analysis Brief"; Reuters, March 31, 1998.

[7][7]RadioNigeria (government radio), July 3, 1998, as reported by the BBC Summary ofWorld Broadcasts (SWB), July 7, 1998.

[8][8]Bearman,"Squandered Inheritance"; "Minister on Oil Situation, Processing Oil Abroad,"Lagos NTA Television Network May 19, 1998 as reported by the U.S. ForeignBroadcast Information Service (FBIS), May 20, 1998.

[9][9]U.S. EIA,"Nigeria Country Analysis Brief."

[10][10]Article40(3) of the 1979 constitution, Article 42(3) of the 1989 constitution, andArticle 47(3) of the draft 1995 constitution (echoing similar provisions inprevious Nigerian constitutions, and the situation prior to independence) eachprovide that: "the entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oilsand natural gas in, under or upon any land in Nigeria or in under or upon theterritorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria shall vest in theGovernment of the Federation and shall be managed in such matter as may beprescribed by the National Assembly." The 1979 constitution, which was draftedduring the process of the first military handover to civilian rule, wassuspended by the military coup of 1984. The 1989 constitution was drafted inthe course of a subsequent transition program, implemented by Gen. IbrahimBabangida. It was brought into force by the Constitution of the FederalRepublic of Nigeria (Promulgation) Decree No.12 of 1992 and was suspended bythe Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree No.107 of 1993, whichrestored the 1979 constitution in general, while suspending certain guaranteesset out in the bill of rights. The draft 1995 constitution was prepared by aconstitutional conference meeting in 1994 and 1995 as part of the discreditedtransition program of General Abacha. It was finally published by GeneralAbubakar in September 1998, and a committee appointed to receive publicsubmissions and make recommendations as to its amendment and adoption. Thecommittee was given until December 31, 1998 to report to the government on itsrecommendations, and ultimately recommended the readoption of the 1979constitution with a number of amendments.

[11][11]Nigeriafirst attended an OPEC conference as an observer in 1964, and joined theorganization in 1971. Khan,Nigeria,pp.16-18.

[12][12]Scott R.Pearson,Petroleum and the NigerianEconomy(Stanford: University of California Press, 1970), pp.24-26.

[13][13]Khan,Nigeria, pp.16-18, and 69. The actualdates on which the government acquired an equity share varied in the case ofeach company. See below for a description of the regulatory regime.

[14][14]The NNPCwas created by Decree No. 33 of 1977, as a successor to the Nigerian NationalOil Company, itself created in 1971 as the first major effort to "indigenize"the oil industry, in response to the OPEC call for member states to participatemore actively in oil operations. NNPC is responsible for production,transportation, refining, and marketing of oil and petroleum products. In 1986,the Petroleum Inspectorate, responsible for regulation and policy formulation,was detached from NNPC and given instead to the Department of PetroleumResources; while preferable to the previous situation, in which NNPC regulateditself, the inspectorate still lacks independence. NNPC became a "commercial andautonomous" entity in 1992, though it remains state owned. Khan,Nigeria, pp.22-28.

[15][15]Informationfrom U.S. EIA, "Nigeria Analysis Country Brief," except where otherwiseindicated.

[16][16]Figure forbpd from Tony Imevbore, Paul Driver, and Chris Geerling, "EnvironmentalObjectives Discussion Document" prepared by SPDC for its April 1998"Stakeholders Environmental Workshop" held in Port Harcourt, section 1.2.a. In1973, the government first acquired a 35 percent stake in the Shell-B.P.Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Ltd, jointly owned by Shell andBritish Petroleum (B.P.) and operated by Shell. This share was raised to 55percent in 1974, and 60 percent in July 1979. In August 1979, B.P.'s assets inNigeria were nationalized (for which compensation of U.S.$125 million waspaid), following the "Kulu incident" when a B.P. chartered tanker withconnections to South Africa unloaded at Bonny, and the company was suspected ofbreaking the oil embargo against South Africa. NNPC's share in the joint venture(of which the operating company was renamed the Shell Petroleum DevelopmentCompany of Nigeria, Ltd) thus rose to 80 percent, and was reduced again to 60percent only in 1989, when Shell's share rose to 30 percent, and Elf and Agipeach acquired a 5 percent holding. In 1993, Shell's share decreased to 55percent, and Elf increased its holding to 10 percent. Khan,Nigeria, pp.69-71; for further detail onthe structure of Shell's business operations in Nigeria see also Jedrzej GeorgFrynas, "Political instability and business: Focus on Shell in Nigeria,"Third World Quarterlyvol.19, no.3,pp.447-468. "Shell" is used here to refer to the Royal Dutch/Shell Group ofcompanies, of which the two ultimate holding companies are the U.K.-based ShellTransport and Trading PLC (40 percent) and the Netherlands-based Royal DutchPetroleum Company (60 percent). Elsewhere, "Shell" will be used to refer eitherto the group of companies or to SPDC; similarly for the other international oilcompanies listed below.

[17][17]Bearman, "SquanderedInheritance."

[18][18]MatthewTostevin, "Nigerian Mobil Says More Funding Needed," Reuters, December 18,1997; "International Close Up: Africa," on the Mobil website, at, as of March 4, 1998; Bearman, "Squandered Inheritance."

[19][19]SPDC,"Nigeria Brief: Harnessing Gas," Lagos, August 1996.

[20][20]TheDepartment of Petroleum Resources published "Guidelines for Farm-out andOperations of Marginal Fields" in September 1996.

[21][21]Energy Compass, (London) vol.9, no.3,January 17, 1998.

[22][22]U.S. EIA,"Nigeria Country Analysis Brief." The main domestic companies are Dubri Oil,Pan Ocean, Consolidated Petroleum, Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum, AmniInternational, Atlas Petroleum, Cavendish Petroleum, and Express Oil and Gas.

[23][23]Energy Compass, vol.8, no.21, May 23,1997.

[24][24]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.15, April 10,1998.

[25][25]Interviewswith oil industry sources 1997 and 1998;EnergyCompass, vol.8, no.49, December 5, 1997.

[26][26]Reuters,July 21, 1998.

[27][27]U.S. EIA,"Nigeria Country Analysis Brief."


[29][29]RobertCorzine, "Shell is Accused in Nigeria Gas Row,"Financial Times(London), June 13, 1997; Felix Onuah, "Nigeria'sEtete Blasts Shell Over LNG Project," Reuters, June 12, 1997.

[30][30]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.22, May 29,1998.

[31][31]"AbubakarCommissions Offshore Gas Project," AFP, November 20, 1998; Dulue Mbachu, "MobilNatural Gas Project Questioned," IPS, April 1, 1996.

[32][32]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.42, October23, 1998.

[33][33]Reuters,December 12, 1997.

[34][34]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.45, November6, 1998.

[35][35]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.199.

[36][36]Energy Compass, vol.8, no.31, July 31,1997.

[37][37]Allocationof funds for maintenance at the refineries was the subject of a strugglebetween finance minister Anthony Ani and petroleum minister Dan Etete underGeneral Abacha's regime. Ani refused to release funds unless NNPC and theMinistry of Petroleum Resources provided him with a satisfactory explanation ofexpenditure since 1994, which he alleged should have been adequate to carry outthe required repairs. Officials in NNPC and the oil ministry, however, statedthat the funds were not in fact transferred from the Finance Ministry, asalleged. The joint external auditors of NNPC, Peat Marwick, Ani, Ogunde&Co (of which former Minister Ani is, extraordinarily, one partner) and MakhtariDangan and Co, have yet to complete their audit of the 1993 and 1994 accounts,and so the issue remained unresolved.EnergyCompass, vol.8, no.31, July 31, 1997;EnergyCompass, vol.8, no.46, November 14, 1997; James Jukwey, "Oil-Rich Nigeriahas no Answer to Fuel Scarcity," Reuters, June 20, 1997; "The Oil Hostage,"Africa Confidential(London), August 29,1997.

[38][38]"Businessconfidence hits rock bottom,"AfricaAnalysis(London), May 15, 1998.

[39][39]"Nigeria'sRuling Council Ends Meeting on Fuel, Security," Lagos NTA TV Network, August14, 1998, as reported by FBIS, August 15, 1998;Energy Compass, vol.9, no.45, November 6, 1998.

[40][40]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.39, September25, 1998.

[41][41]AFP, December21, 1998. Revenue from the sale of domestic petroleum products is paid into thePetroleum Trust Fund (PTF), which subsequently disburses the funds. With theprice at _11, _2.00 (U.S.2¢) went to NNPC as notional payment for refining,storing and distributing products (although the true cost of refining wasestimated at _5.67 (U.S.6¢) in early 1988); _2.40 (U.S.3¢) to the federalgovernment as compensation for the cost of the crude; and _5.30 (U.S.6¢) to thePetroleum Special Trust Fund (PSTF) for the implementation of various projectsin health, education, and infrastructure. The marketers deducted _1.30 (U.S.1¢)per liter directly from the pump price prior to transfering the balance to thePTF. Dalhatu Bayero, "The Politics of Oil,"WestAfrica(London), February 2 to 8, 1998; IMF,Nigeria: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix, p.52. In 1993,with the price at _3.25, the level of the annual subsidy to the domesticpetroleum product market was estimated at 17 percent of oil export earnings.Khan,Nigeria, pp.127-128. Throughoutthis report, an exchange rate of _90 to one U.S. dollar has been used, the ratecurrent in late December 1998.

[42][42]Lagos NTATV Network Network December 29, 1998, as reported by FBIS, December 30, 1998;Nigeria Today, January 8,1999.

[43][43]JamesJukwey, "Nigeria Fuel Crisis Caused by Greed, Watchdog Says," Reuters, April 9,1997;Nigeria Today(London-basede-mail news service), July 14, 1998.

[44][44]Khan,Nigeria, pp.127-128.

[45][45]Oppositionradio reporting the acting director of defense information, Col. Godwin Ugbo,following a meeting of the "states task force on petroleum products." RadioKudirat Nigeria, June 6, 1997, as reported by BBC SWB, June 17, 1997; see also"Meeting on Fuel Crisis Ends, Measures Taken," Lagos Radio Nigeria Network, asreported by FBIS, May 14, 1998.

[46][46]JamesRupert, "The Collapse of Nigeria: Oil but no Fuel,"Washington Post, March 31, 1998.

[47][47]Energy Compass, vol.8, no.27, July 3,1997.

[48][48]Energy Compass, vol.8, no.24, June 12,1997.

[49][49]Reuters,October 8, 1997.

[50][50]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.11, March 13,1998.

[51][51]Reuters,August 13, 1998.

[52][52]Reuters,July 21, 1997 and July 23, 1997;EnergyCompass, vol.9, no.34, August 21, 1998.

[53][53]"As bad asit gets,"Africa Confidential,vol.39, no.25, December 18, 1998.

[54][54]AdekunbeEro and Adegbenro Adebanjo, "Horror in the Delta,"Tell(Lagos), November 2, 1998; Janet Mba-Afolabi, "Jesse Towntragedy,"Newswatch(Lagos), November2, 1998.

[55][55]At the timethe British first proclaimed a protectorate over northern Nigeria, thetraditional rulers in the area, the emirs, were promised that there would be nointerference in matters of religion. Missionary activities were thereforedisallowed. As a consequence, the northern region was in the main excluded fromEuropean education, largely provided by the missionaries in southern Nigeria.Colonial administration in the north therefore came to be dominated, in theposts filled by Nigerians, by southerners. For this and related reasons, theNorthern Peoples' Congress (NPC), which held the majority of seats in theNorthern Region House of Assembly, at one point wanted independence to bedelayed until sufficient northerners could be trained to fill governmentpositions previously held by expatriates or southerners. In 1957, however, theNPC decided to ask for self-government for the Northern Region in 1959 and tojoin with other parties in pressing for independence in 1960.Report of the Commission Appointed toEnquire into the Fears of Minorities and the Means of Allaying Them(London: HMSO, July 1958; hereafter "Willink Commission Report"), Chapter 1,paragraph 12.

[56][56]Forrest,Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria,p.21.

[57][57]The WillinkCommission considered each region of Nigeria (Northern, Western and Eastern)and the demands for state creation from minorities. In each case, it rejectedthe idea of new states on the grounds that: "it is seldom possible to draw aclean boundary which does not create a fresh minority: the proposed state hadin each case become very small by the time it had been pared down to an area inwhich it was possible to assert with confidence that it was desired....[Furthermore] The powers left to the Regions by the decision of 1953 areconsiderable, and ... we do not regard it as realistic to suppose that any ofthe Regions will forgo the powers they now have.... [A] new state created todaywould have to compete with the existing Regions, and the cost in overheads, notonly financial but in resources-particularly of trained minds, would be high.This consideration, when combined with the difficulty of finding a cleanboundary, was in each particular case to our minds decisive." WillinkCommission Report, Chapter 14, paragraph 3.

[58][58]Forrest,Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria,pp.50-51.

[59][59]S. EgiteOyovbaire, "The Politics of Revenue Allocation," in K. Panter-Brick (ed.),Soldiers and Oil(London: Frank Cass,1978); Forrest,Politics and EconomicDevelopment in Nigeria, p.53.

[60][60]Forrest,Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria,p.133.

[61][61]See, forexample, Terry Lynn Karl,The Paradox ofPlenty: Oil Booms and Petro-States(Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress, 1997), pp.206-208. Nigeria, it is argued, had an extreme case of "Dutchdisease [named by economists after Dutch elm disease], a process whereby newdiscoveries or favorable price changes in one sector of the economy-forexample, petroleum-cause distress in other areas-for example, agriculture ormanufacturing.... Persistent Dutch Disease provokes a rapid, even distorted,growth of services, transportation, and other nontradeables whilesimultaneously discouraging industrialization and agriculture-a process thatpolicy makers seem incapable of counteracting." Ibid., p.5. As Karl notes, "Oilis the most important internationally traded commodity as measured by volumeand monetary value. The significance of its role leads to a relativelyinelastic demand, which, when combined with the small number and large size ofresource owners, the high entry costs into the industry, and the difficultiesinherent in energy substitution, produces extraordinary rents with adistinctive character: they have almost nothing to do with the productiveprocesses of the domestic economy." Ibid., p.48.

[62][62]Section14(3) of the 1979 constitution.

[63][63]Allocationof Revenue Act No. 1 of 1982; see Forrest,Politicsand Economic Development in Nigeria, p.83.

[64][64]Karl,Paradox of Plenty, Tables A-14 and A-15,based on World BankWorld Debt Tables.

[65][65]Decree 23of 1992. Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, "Policy Briefing:The Dawn of a New Era," (OMPADEC: Port Harcourt, 1992). The commission was to"embark on physical and human development in the Oil Producing Communities,with the objective of: (a) Compensating, materially, the Communities, LocalGovernment Areas and States which have suffered damage (ecological,environmental etc) or deprivation as a result of mineral oil prospection intheir areas; (b) Open up the affected areas and effectively link them upsocially and economically with the rest of the country by producing various formsof infrastructural and physical development." Ibid.

[66][66]AkpandemJames, "Why OMPADEC May be Scrapped,"Punch(Lagos), March 4, 1998.

[67][67]"GeneralAbacha Presents 1996 Budget," Lagos NTA Television Network, February 15, 1996,as reported by BBC SWB, February 19, 1996. The price of gasoline (petrol) atthe pump increased from _3.25 (U.S.4¢) to _11 (U.S.12¢) per liter in November1994; of this, _5.30 (U.S.6¢) was allocated to the PSTF. The PSTF received _25billion (U.S.$277 million) in 1995, _46 billion (U.S.$511 million) in 1996, and_39 billion (U.S.$433 million) in 1997 in petroleum product revenue. IMF,Nigeria: Selected Issues and StatisticalAppendix, p.54. On December 21, 1998, the fuel price was increased to _25(U.S.28¢), but the breakdown for the PSTF was not announced at the time ofgoing to press. The Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund Decree No. 25 of 1994 statesthat the fund shall be paid "all the monies received from the sale price ofpetroleum products less the marketers margin," and apply the money to projectsin road and railway transportation, education, health, food supply, watersupply, security services, alternative sources of energy, rural developmentprograms and such other sectors as may be approved (Sections 1(1) and 3(1)(c)).Members of the board managing the fund hold office at the pleasure of the headof state (Sections 6(1), 7(2), and 10).

[68][68]See HumanRights Watch/Africa, "Permanent Transition: Current Violations of Human Rightsin Nigeria,"A Human Rights Watch ShortReport, vol.8, no.3(A), September 1996, and "Transition or Travesty?Nigeria's Endless Process of Return to Civilian Rule,"A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol.9, no.6(A), October 1997.

[69][69]Reuters,July 21, 1998.

[70][70]Section163(2) of the draft constitution of 1995, as finally published in September1998.


[72][72]"AbubakarPledges Petroleum Ministry Reorganization," Lagos NTA TV, September 7, 1998, asreported by FBIS, September 9, 1998;Vanguard(Lagos), August 24, 1998.

[73][73]Reuters,November 10, 1998.

[74][74]"Nigeria'sAbubakar Urges Patience in Oil-Producing Areas," Lagos Radio Nigeria Network,November 18, 1998, as reported by FBIS, November 19, 1998.

[75][75]"Abubakaron country's domestic and foreign policies," Voice of Nigeria External Service,October 1, 1998, as reported by BBC SWB, October 3, 1998.

[76][76]1999Federal Budget Address by General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

[77][77]Rather thansetting aside any of the windfall to provide against future price falls, thegovernment increased expenditure, which then remained at elevated levels evenwhen oil prices and revenue fell in 1991. World Bank,World Development Report 1997: The State in a Changing World(Washington DC: Oxford University Press, 1997), p.49.

[78][78]During theperiod 1986 to 1992, oil export revenues increased at an average 13 percent a year,while GDP, measured in current U.S. dollars, decreased by an average 7 percenta year. Khan,Nigeria, p.183.

[79][79]Khan,Nigeria, Table 8.3; World Bank,World Development Report 1997, Table 1,based on an estimated 1995 population of 111.3 million.

[80][80]"PresidentAbacha Presents 1998 Budget," Radio Nigeria, Lagos, January 5, 1998, asreported by BBC SWB, January 13, 1998; Tony Hawkins, "Foreign Debt BurdenGrows,"Financial Times(SpecialSurvey on Nigeria), May 26, 1995. The IMF estimated that Nigeria's externalpublic debt at the end of 1997 was U.S.$28.7 billion, based on "an amalgam ofdebtor and creditor data," equivalent to 75 percent of GDP, with debtobligations falling due in 1998 projected at 36 percent of exports. IMF,Nigeria: Selected Issues and StatisticalAppendix, p.81.

[81][81]Khan,Nigeria, p.202.

[82][82]Corruptionof this type is common to similar oil-based economies, but has reached"epidemic proportions" in Nigeria. See Karl,Paradox of Plenty, p.208.

[83][83]Energy Compass, vol.8, no.27, July 3,1997; Seye Kehinde, "The Big Swindle,"News(Lagos), December 26, 1994; "Over a Barrel,"Africa Confidentialvol.36, no.6, March 15, 1995; Obed Awowede,"Plundering and Looting Unlimited,"Tell(Lagos), August 24, 1998;Energy Compass,vol.9, no.39, September 25, 1998;EnergyCompass, vol.9, no.41, October 9, 1998. In September 1998, the Chagouryswere reported to have fled the country. The oil trading companies largely useNigerian crude, whose price is linked to Brent crude from the North Sea, toposition themselves in the Brent market.

[84][84]The sixstates were Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, and Niger, whojoined Gambia, Ghana and Togo in receiving allocations of between 10,000 and30,000 bpd of Nigerian crude. The governments would benefit either by refiningthe oil, if they have refining capacity, or by selling it at a premium to westAfrican crude traders.Energy Compass,vol.8, no.37, September 12, 1997.

[85][85]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.41, October 9,1998.

[86][86]JamesRupert, "Nigerian Oil Corruption Began at the Top,"Washington Post, June 10, 1998.

[87][87]Goodquality independent information on the environment of the Niger Delta issurprisingly hard to come by; but see World Bank,Defining an Environmental Strategy for the Niger Delta(WashingtonDC: World Bank, May 1995); David Moffat and Olof Lindén, "Perception andReality: Assessing Priorities for Sustainable Development in the Niger RiverDelta,"Ambio (A Journal of the HumanEnvironment), vol. 24, no.7-8, December 1995 (Stockholm: Royal SwedishAcademy of Sciences, 1995), an article based on the research carried out forthe World Bank report; and Nick Ashton Jones,The ERA Handbook to the Niger Delta: The Human Ecosystems of the NigerDelta(London and Benin City: Environmental Rights Action, 1998).

[88][88]It isestimated that around 70 percent of the sediment load of the rivers has beenlost as a result of the dams. Moffat and Lindén, "Perception and Reality,"pp.528-9.

[89][89]Moffat andLindén, "Perception and Reality," p.530.


[91][91]Article40(3) of the 1979 constitution; Article 42(3) of the 1989 constitution; Article47(3) draft 1995 constitution. See above, footnote 10. The Petroleum Act alsoprovides in section 1 that "The entire ownership and control of all petroleumin, under or upon any lands to which this section applies [i.e. land inNigeria, under the territorial waters of Nigeria or forming part of thecontinental shelf] shall be vested in the state."

[92][92]PetroleumAct, Cap. 350,Laws of the Federation ofNigeria, Schedule 1, section, 24(1).

[93][93]MineralOils (Safety) Regulations, Regulation 7.

[94][94]Petroleum(Drilling and Production) Regulations, Regulation 15(2).

[95][95]Ibid.,Regulation 25.

[96][96]Ibid.,Regulation 36.

[97][97]Ibid.,Regulations 17, 19, and 22.

[98][98]Environmental Impact Assessment Decree, section 2(2). Prior to the EIA Decreeof 1992, certain similar requirements applied under the Petroleum Act and otherlegislation, such as the requirement under the Petroleum (Drilling andProduction) Regulations to draw up an "oil field development programme,"approved by the Director of Petroleum Resources, which should point outpotential dangers to the environment and the appropriate solutions.

[99][99]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.263.

[100][100]Shell International Petroleum Company letter to Prof. John Heath, December 22,1994.

[101][101]Ken Saro-Wiwa, "My Story," text of statement to the Civil DisturbancesTribunal, reprinted inOgoni: Trials andTravails(Lagos: Civil Liberties Organisation, 1996), p.42-3.

[102][102]Quoted inPIRC Intelligence, vol.11,issue 3, March 1997 (published in London by Pensions Investment ResearchConsultants). Principle 11 of the 1992 U.N. Rio Declaration on Environment andDevelopment states that "Environmental standards, management objectives andpriorities should reflect the environmental context to which they apply.Standards applied by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarrantedeconomic social cost to other countries, in particular developing countries."As noted above, however, Nigerian law at many points explicitly refers tointernational standards and requires companies operating in Nigeria to respectthose standards.

[103][103]Shell International Petroleum Company,Developmentsin Nigeria(London: March 1995).

[104][104]Royal Dutch/Shell Group of CompaniesHealth,Safety and the Environment Report 1997(London and the Hague, May 1997).Shell states that areas of noncompliance for which exemptions and waivers havebeen applied include effluent discharges in environments with levels whichalready exceed regulatory limits and areas where SPDC has not completed theinstallation of monitoring systems. SPDC is said to be working on bringing fivemain areas, currently covered by waivers, into compliance: produced watereffluent limits (by the end of 1998); approved disposal facilities for producedsand, sludge and solid wastes (2000); oily waste water limits for flowstations(2000); gas flaring condition monitoring (1999); and environmental sensitivityindex (ESI) mapping (2000). Tony Imevbore, Paul Driver, and Chris Geerling,"Environmental Objectives Discussion Document" prepared by SPDC for its April1998 "Stakeholders EnvironmentalWorkshop" held in Port Harcourt, section 1.3.d.

[105][105]J.P. van Dessel,The EnvironmentalSituation in the Niger Delta, Nigeria(Internal Position Paper prepared forGreenpeace Netherlands, February 1995), section 5.1.

[106][106]Environmental Resources Management,Reviewof Environmental Statements(London: Body Shop International, March 1994)

[107][107]Dr. Phil Smith,Review of theEnvironmental Statements Prepared for Nigeria LNG Ltd by SGS Environment Ltd(London: Aquatic Environmental Consultants, 1995).

[108][108]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.234; see alsoWorld Bank,Defining an EnvironmentalStrategy for the Niger Delta. Recently, geologists meeting at a conferenceorganized by the U.N. Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO) in Ghana identified "a growing consensus ... that oil extraction hasplayed a strong role in speeding up subsidence and that its effects will befelt for years to come." Shell is said to have conducted research on theseeffects, but has not published the results. Barry Morgan, "That sinking feelingputs heat on oil,"Upstream News(Oslo)August 7, 1998.

[109][109]Moffat and Lindén, "Perception and Reality," p.532.

[110][110]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.249. There are42 U.S. gallons to one barrel of oil.

[111][111]The data on which the calculation was based were complete through October 13,1997, and include spills of over twenty-four barrels (1,000 U.S. gallons).Tanker spills are more likely to be reported accurately than pipeline spills.Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the total is much lower than that calculated by theDPR.Oil Spill Intelligence Report(Arlington, Massachusetts), White Paper Series, vol.1, no.7, November 1997.

[112][112]"Effect of Nigerian Spill Termed ‘Minimal' as Last Known Patch Disperses,"Oil Spill Intelligence Report, vol.21,no.4, January 22, 1998. Other major spills occurring at around the same time(including Gulf Oil and SPDC spills in 1978) made the period 1978 to 1980 theworst for spills in Nigerian oil producing history. Environmental ResourcesManagers Ltd,Niger Delta EnvironmentalSurvey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.250.

[113][113]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.250; J. FinineFekumo, "Civil Liability for Damage Caused by Oil Pollution," in J.A. Omotola(ed.)Environmental Laws in Nigeriaincluding Compensation(Lagos: University of Lagos, 1990), p.268.

[114][114]Edwin Unsworth, "Mobil Covered for Nigeria Spill,"Business Insurance, January 26, 1998; Reuters, January 20, 1998;"Effect of Nigerian Spill Termed ‘Minimal.'"

[115][115]Oil Daily, February 27, 1998; "Effectof Nigerian Spill Termed ‘Minimal.'"

[116][116]Oil Spill Intelligence Report,vol.21, no.4, January 22, 1998, and vol.21, no.5, January 29, 1998; HumanRights Watch correspondence with Environmental Rights Action;Oil Daily, February 27, 1998.

[117][117]Attachment to Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, September7, 1998.

[118][118]SPDC states it replaced 295 kilometers of swamp lines in 1996, and that it hasreplaced more than 1,000 kilometers of flowlines altogether since 1993. SPDC,People and the Environment: Annual Report1996.

[119][119]SPDC,People and the Environment: AnnualReport 1996.

[120][120]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[121][121]Environmental Rights Action, "Shell's Double Barrel Attack," ERA Field ReportNo.12, August 17, 1998.

[122][122]Reuters, August 18, 1997; attachment to Shell International Ltd letter to HumanRights Watch, September 7, 1998.

[123][123]Oil Spill Intelligence Reportfax toHuman Rights Watch, April 21, 1998. Shell stated to Human Rights Watch "Normalpractice today in respect of oil-impacted debris is to remove it from site forcontrolled incineration. Where logistics make this difficult, a mobileincinerator is usually taken to the site. The Aleibiri site was three kilometresfrom the nearest transport access point, ruling out both options. Instead itwas agreed that the debris be burned on location, a practice that had beensuccessfully implemented in similar locations. At Aleibiri, a site was chosenand a firebreak established according to standard practice. However, despitethese precautions the fire did get out of control. SPDC has since that timeconducted further investigations to find out what happened. The investigationstraced the incident to poor supervision. SPDC has accordingly revised itsprocedure to include additional precautions whenever such operation is to becarried out." Attachment to Shell International Ltd letter to Human RightsWatch, September 7, 1998.

[124][124]Environmental Rights Action, "Shell's One Year Old Spill Sets Forest Ablaze,"ERA Field Report No.3, March 26, 1998.

[125][125]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.242.

[126][126]Moffat and Lindén, "Perception and Reality," p.532.

[127][127]Human Rights Watch interview with Bruce Powell, zoologist and expert on NigerDelta ecology, London, June 20, 1998.

[128][128]Van Dessel,The Environmental Situationin the Niger Delta, Nigeria, section 5.5.1.

[129][129]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.247. Data onmonitoring of discharged effluents from the refineries are known to exist butcould not be accessed by the authors of the report.

[130][130]SPDC,People and the Environment: AnnualReport 1996. The figures given were: Forcados, 16 mg/l; Bonny, 14.3 mg/l;Ughelli, 17 mg/l.

[131][131]SPDC,PAGE [Public Affairs, Governmentand the Environment] Fact Book 1993, section 3.3.1; Van Dessel,The Environmental Situation in the NigerDelta, Nigeria, section 5.4.

[132][132]Moffat and Lindén, "Perception and Reality," p.532.

[133][133]SPDC,People and the Environment AnnualReport 1996, p.14.

[134][134]Emmanuel Asuquo Obot, A. Chinda, and S. Braid, "Vegetation recovery andherbaceous production in a freshwater wetland 19 years after a major oilspill,"African Journal of Ecology1992, vol.30, pp.149-156. The responsibility for the Ebubu-Ochani spill hasproved a controversial issue. Shell maintains that the spill was "discovered"in the early 1980s in thick forest, near Ejamah village in the Ebubu field onthe edge of Ogoni, and that discussions with villagers subsequently establishedthat the spill had occurred during the 1967-70 civil war, while all Shell staffwere withdrawn from the area, and was accompanied by a fire that raged forseveral days. (Shell's account is not altogether consistent: in other versionsit has stated more precisely that the spill occurred in 1970 and was caused bysabotage by the retreating Biafran army, which deliberately set the oil alightto provide a barrier to the advancing federal troops.) In 1983, the paramountruler of Ejamah-Ebubu made a claim for _10 million (U.S.$111,100) against Shellfor compensation for the spill; although the company acknowledged noresponsibility, Shell states that, "as a gesture of goodwill," it agreed to tryto clean up the spill, provide a water supply and pay _300,000 (U.S.$3,300) tothe community. Shell later acquired the land for _77,000 (U.S.$850) and statesthat it awarded a clean-up contract which removed layers of oil and wascompleted in 1990. However, because of the depth of the crust, oil continued toleach into the environment during the wet season. A 1990 study carried out bythe Institute of Petroleum Studies at the Rivers State University of Scienceand Technology recommended further clean-up measures. According to Shell, thesemeasures were planned but shelved in 1993 when all staff were pulled out of theOgoni area. Local residents, however, contradict this account, stating that thespill took place in 1970, after the end of the civil war and long after thefederal army had retaken the area, and was the result of an explosion in thepipeline; the fire is alleged to have been a clean-up measure undertaken byShell itself. See, "Flash Points in the Ogoni Story: What Happened and LessonsLearned," briefing available on the Shell web site( as of October 1, 1997; and Shell InternationalPetroleum Co Ltd, Complaint to the British Broadcasting Complaints Commission,November 1995, and response from Channel 4.

[135][135]R.J. Snowden and I.K.E. Ekweozor, "The Impact of a Minor Oil Spillage in theEstuarine Niger Delta,"Marine PollutionBulletinvol.18, no.11, November 1987, pp.595-599.

[136][136]C.B. Powell, S.A. White, B. Baranowska-Dutkiewicz, D.D. Ibiebele, M. Isoun, andF.U. Ofoegbu, "Oshika Oil Spill Environmental Impact: Effect on AquaticBiology," inThe Petroleum Industry andthe Nigerian Environment: Proceedings of an International Seminar, November 11to 14, 1985, Kaduna(published by the Petroleum Inspectorate, NNPC, and theEnvironmental Planning and Protection Division of the Federal Ministry of Worksand Housing).

[137][137]Greenpeace U.K., "Greenpeace Oil Briefing No. 5: The Environmental Impacts ofOil," and "Greenpeace Oil Briefing No. 6: Possible Long Term Impacts of theBraer Disaster: Review of Previous Spills" (London, January 1993).

[138][138]Human Rights Watch interview with Bill Knight, project manager, B.P./Statoildevelopment project in Akassa, London, June 29, 1998.

[139][139]Greenpeace U.K., "Greenpeace Oil Briefing No. 7: Human Health Impacts of Oil"(London, January 1993).

[140][140]Fekumo, "Civil Liability for Damage Caused by Oil Pollution," p.268.

[141][141]For example, interviews at Edagberi, Rivers State, July 5, 1997, referring to aspill that took place in July 1996. The Director of Research at the CaliforniaAir Resources Board stated to Greenpeace in 1993 that, faced with a situationsimilar to the Braer oil spill in the Shetlands, he would evacuate childrenliving in the affected locality. Greenpeace U.K., "Greenpeace Oil Briefing No.7: Human Health Impacts of Oil."

[142][142]Radio Kudirat Nigeria, January 30, 1998, as reported by BBC SWB, February 4,1998.

[143][143]For example,SPDC v. Chief Caiphas Enochand two others[1992] 8 NWLR (Nigerian Weekly Law Reports) (Part 259),p.335, in which five children are alleged to have died as a result of drinkingoil-contaminated water.

[144][144]Stephen Kretzmann and Shannon Wright,HumanRights and Environmental Information on the Royal Dutch/Shell Group ofCompanies, 1996-1997: An Independent Annual Report(San Francisco andBerkeley, CA: Rainforest Action Network and Project Underground, May 1997),p.6. The E.U. standard is 0.05 ppm.

[145][145]Human Rights Watch interview, July 8, 1997.

[146][146]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.179.

[147][147]Ibid., p.250.

[148][148]Human Rights Watch interview with Bruce Powell, London, June 20, 1998.

[149][149]Moffat and Lindén, "Perception and Reality," p.532.

[150][150]For one account, see, Ibim Semenitari, "Siege of the Sluts,"Tell, February 23, 1998. For the effectof oil on local political economies generally, see below.

[151][151]Seismic surveys are one of the most important methods of surveying sites foroil deposits without actually drilling. Sound waves, usually generated bydetonating dynamite a few meters below ground, are sent into the earth, and thetime taken for them to be reflected by the different rock layers present ismeasured and gives an indication of where oil may be found. The mostsophisticated seismic surveys are three-dimensional, in which seismic lines arelaid out in a dense grid and the recorded data processed by computers. In orderto carry out a seismic survey vegetation is cut back to ensure that the holesfor the dynamite are sited in a straight line; these lines are referred to as"seismic lines." Shell publicity booklet,Oil(London: Shell International Ltd, 1990).

[152][152]SPDC,PAGE Fact Book 1993section3.1.1. In recent years, Shell has introduced a program for replanting seismiclines in mangrove areas, though local environmental groups have claimed that itis poorly managed and ineffective.

[153][153]Shell publicity booklet,Oil.

[154][154]For example, at Ozoro, Isoko North Local Government Authority, Delta State,where a survey by Seismographic Services Limited for SPDC was said to havecaused cracks in the walls of a house visited by Human Rights Watch on July 21,1997.

[155][155]Human Rights Watch interviews, Yenezue-Gene, July 5, 1997. In response toinquiries from Human Rights Watch, dodging the issue of the blockage of waterpassage and the level of damage done, Shell stated that: "Gbaran fielddevelopment was planned in two phases. Phase I involved the acceleratedconstruction of drilling locations and their access roads. The objective was tofacilitate an early commencement of drilling operations. In this phase, threebailey bridges were constructed and the work was completed in 1990. Thedrainage structure provided at this stage was adequate but could not providelong term solutions to the drainage problem in the field. Phase II was plannedto commence at the end of drilling operations and this involved detailedengineering design and construction of all required long-term facilitiesincluding drainage improvement works. After the completion of Phase I, workcould not immediately commence on Phase II because of budget constraints thathas become an industry problem, and low oil yield resulting from the drillingof Gbaran-5 (ex-Gbaran VQTL-1) location." Phase II eventually began in 1995,and a number of bridges and culverts have been added, although several areoutstanding. "Twelve claimants have been paid compensation; others are atvarious stages of processing, while incoming claims are being considered."ShellInternational Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[156][156]Human Rights Watch interviews, Yenezue-Gene, July 5, 1997.

[157][157]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 4, 1997.

[158][158]Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, "Report on Visit to Awoye Community," Gani FawehinmiChambers, Lagos 1997; Human Rights Watch interview, Bruce Powell, June 20,1998. Chevron states that it has allowed access to a borehole at its nearbyOpuekeba facilities since 1994: Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human RightsWatch, June 29, 1998. Human Rights Watch has not itself visited the site. Amajor protest at Chevron's Parabe platform, offshore from the Ilaje area, tookplace in May 1998, by youths protesting habitat destruction, among othercomplaints (described below in the section on "Protest and Repression in theNiger Delta"). In September 1998, at least fifty died and thousands weredisplaced in the Ilaje-Ese-Edo local government area of Ondo State in armedclashes between Ijaw and Ilaje communities laying competing claims to Apata, anoil rig area located between them.

[159][159]Van Dessel,The Environmental Situationin the Niger Delta, Nigeria, section 5.3. SPDC claims that "Our long termtarget is to achieve a dry drilling location," and that, in 1996, "almost nomud discharges to the environment were made," while a "drilling wastemanagement strategy" was prepared to meet DPR Environmental Guidelines andStandards. SPDC,People and theEnvironment: Annual Report 1996.

[160][160]Human Rights Watch interviews and site visit, July 8, 1997. The names of thechildren given were: Okon Mkpapa, Udong Ete, Ekpe Ekene Nsuwegh, Adia Haudeno,and Philip Sunday. All were one or two years old.

[161][161]Khan,Nigeria, p.162; SPDC,Nigeria Brief: Harnessing Gas(Lagos:SPDC, August 1996).

[162][162]The World Bank estimates that Nigerian gas flaring releases some 35 milliontonnes of carbon dioxide annually. This represents 0.2 percent of total globalman-made carbon dioxide emissions; of which the rest of Africa contributes 2.8percent; Europe 14.8 percent; the USA 21.8 percent; and the rest of the world60.4 percent. SPDC,Nigeria Brief:Harnessing Gas. See also World Bank,Definingan Environmental Strategy for the Niger Delta, and Moffat and Lindén,"Perception and Reality."

[163][163]Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations, Regulation 42 (which came intoforce in November 1969), and the Associated Gas Reinjection Act, Cap.26,Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990(which came into force in 1979).

[164][164]Associated Gas Reinjection (Continued Flaring of Gas) Regulations, 1985; seealso Khan,Nigeria, p.162. Because ofthe geology of Nigeria's oilfields, reinjection of gas is, according to the oilcompanies, not usually an economic option.

[165][165]Reuters, November 19, 1996; Environmental Rights Action, Niger Delta Alert No.1, January 1998. NNPC is exempt from these fines, so the oil majors in theorypay in accordance with their share in the joint ventures.

[166][166]SPDC,People and the Environment: AnnualReport 1996.

[167][167]SPDC Press Release, October 18, 1996; see also SPDCNigeria Brief: Harnessing Gas.

[168][168]U.S. EIA, "Nigeria Country Analysis Brief."

[169][169]SPDC,PAGE Fact Book 1993, section3.3.2; Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,Niger Delta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I,p.244.

[170][170]Augustine O. Isichei and William W. Sanford, "The effects of waste gas flareson the surrounding vegetation in South-Eastern Nigeria,"Journal of Applied Ecology1976, vol.13, pp.177-187.

[171][171]Environmental Rights Action,sHell in Iko(Benin City: Environmental Rights Action, July 10, 1995); Human Rights Watchinterview with Bruce Powell, June 20, 1998.

[172][172]Human Rights Watch interviews, Uzere, Delta State, July 21, 1997.

[173][173]Article 40 of the 1979 constitution (Article 42(3) of the 1989 constitution;Article 47(1) of the draft 1995 constitution) provides that:

(1) No movable property or any interest in animmovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right overor interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part ofNigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law that,among other things-

(a) requires the prompt payment of compensationtherefor; and

(b) gives to the person claiming such compensation aright of access for the determination of his interest in the property and theamount of compensation to a court of law or tribunal or body havingjurisdiction in that part of Nigeria.

[174][174]Section 1, Decree No. 6 of 1978, Cap. 202,Lawsof the Federation of Nigeria.

[175][175]Section 27, Land Use Act.

[176][176]Article 274(5) of the 1979 constitution. This provision is repeated in Article346(5) of the draft 1995 constitution.

[177][177]The act also provides for Land Use and Allocation Committees to be appointed byand advise the military governors on the management of the land, and to settledisputes as to compensation to be paid.

[178][178]Petroleum Act, Section 36. The Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations,made under the Act, also provide that before entering or occupying any privateland, oil companies are required to obtain written permission from thegovernment and pay "fair and adequate compensation" to the lawful occupiers,presumably in respect of the rights mentioned in the primary legislation.Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations, Regulation 17(c)(ii).

[179][179]Before the Land Use Act came into effect, the Public Land Acquisitions(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and other laws provided for compensation tobe paid in respect of the land acquired itself. See J.A. Omotola,Essays on the Land Use Act, 1978(Lagos:Lagos University Press, 1984), chapter 5, "Compensation provisions under theAct."

[180][180]The Act provides: "The holder of a licence shall pay compensation:

(a) to any person whose land or interest in land(whether or not it is land in respect of which the licence has been granted) isinjuriously affected by the exercise of the rights conferred by the licence,for any such injurious affection not otherwise made good; and

(b) to any person suffering damage by reason of anyneglect on the part of the holder or his agents, servants or workmen toprotect, maintain or repair any work structure or thing executed under thelicence, for any such damage not otherwise made good; and

(c) to any person suffering damage (other than onaccount of his own default or on account of the malicious act of a thirdperson) as a consequence of any breakage or leakage from the pipeline or anancillary installation, for any such damage not otherwise made good."

Oil Pipelines Act, Cap.338,Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, section 11(5).

[181][181]Ibid., Section 20. "In determining the loss in value of the land or interest inland of a claimant the court shall assess the value of the land or the interestsinjuriously affected at the date immediately before the grant of the licenceand shall assess the residual value to the claimant of the same land orinterests consequent upon and at the date of the grant of the licence and shalldetermine the loss suffered by the claimant as the difference between thevalues so found, if such residual value is a lesser sum." Section 20(3).

[182][182]SPDC,PAGE Fact Book 1993.

[183][183]SPDC,People and the Environment: AnnualReport 1996.

[184][184]Petroleum Act, Section 36.

[185][185][1995] 3 NWLR (Part 382) p.148, at p.192. TheFarahcase arose from a blow out at Shell's Bomu II oil well inTai/Gokana local government areas in Ogoni in 1970, though the case was notcommenced until 1989. Shell has appealed from the Court of Appeal to theSupreme Court.

[186][186]Regulation 23 states that "if the licensee or lessee exercises the rightsconferred by his licence or lease in such a manner as unreasonably to interferewith the exercise of any fishing rights, he shall pay adequate compensationtherefor to any person injured by the exercise of those first-mentionedrights."

[187][187]Oil Pipelines Act, sections 11(5) and 20(2).

[188][188]Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act, section 36.

[189][189](1866) LR1 Exch. 265. Oil naturally occurs in the ground, and therefore in itsnatural state would not come under the rule inRylands v. Fletcher. However, once it has been channeled throughpipes or gathered into tanks, its presence is no longer "natural" and the ruleapplies. However, the case law on the issue is not entirely consistent. See J.Finine Fekumo, "Civil Liability for Damage Caused by Oil Pollution," in Omotola(ed.)Environmental Laws in Nigeria.

[190][190]SPDC v. Chief Graham Otoko and fiveothers[1990] 6 NWLR (Part 159), p.693, at p.724.

[191][191]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[192][192]Reuters, September 2, 1997.

[193][193]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, May 8, 1998.

[194][194]See J.A. Omotola, "The Quantum of Compensation for Oil Pollution: An Overview,"in Omotola (ed.),Environmental Laws inNigeria.

[195][195]In 1995 the World Bank estimated that the value of forest products was at leastfifty times the government rate for compensation. World Bank,Defining an Environmental DevelopmentStrategy, p.93.

[196][196]Reuters, October 5, 1997, quoting a SPDC spokesperson in connection withdemands by members of the Peremabiri community for compensation for fishingnets allegedly damaged in a June 1997 spillage.

[197][197]Environmental Rights Action, "Shell's Airport at Osubi-The Killing of Sleep,"ERA Monitor Report No.5, April 1998. Shell stated that a total of _194.7million (U.S.$2.16 million) was approved in compensation for the loss of use ofland and crops, although a small percentage of this remained in a holdingaccount pending negotiations with a claimant who had begun a court action."Osubi Airport Project: Shell Nigeria's Response to Allegations by ERA," SPDCPress Release, March 23, 1998.

[198][198]SPDC,People and the Environment: AnnualReport 1996.

[199][199]SPDC letter to Environmental Rights Action, August 19, 1998. The data givenwere as follows:


1997 oilspills(barrels)

























[200][200]With the exception of Mobil, which has most of its operations offshore andwhich stated to Human Rights Watch that no act of sabotage had occurred at anyof its facilities. Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited letter to Human RightsWatch, February 10, 1998.

[201][201]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[202][202]The Advertising Standards Authority,ASAMonthly Report, no.62 (London, July 1996), pp.40-41.

[203][203]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, figure 14.5,p.253. The other causes recorded were corrosion (33 percent), equipment failure(38 percent), blow-out (20 percent), accident from third party (1 percent),operator or maintenance error (2 percent), and "natural" (stated as 0 percent,presumably 3 percent intended). Sixty-nine percent of total spills during thesame period were offshore, 25 percent in swamp, and 6 percent on land.

[204][204]Human Rights Watch, interview, July 7, 1997.

[205][205]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 4, 1997.

[206][206]Letter dated February 4, 1997, from Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd (signed E.Chiejina), reference RC/LC 97/18, to C.V. Goodwill and Co, Port Harcourt.

[207][207]Those arrested were Pastor P.N. Orji, Christopher Nwubio, Isaiah Samuel, AbelOrji and Chief S.U. Amirize. Human Rights Watch interviews, July 4, 1997.

[208][208]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, May 8, 1998.

[209][209]Section 1, Petroleum Production and Distribution (Anti-Sabotage) Decree no.35of 1975 (Cap. 353,Laws of the Federationof Nigeria).

[210][210]The Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree no.30 of 1975 (Cap. 78,Laws of the Federation of Nigeria),Section 3(1) and (2).

[211][211]Section 3(7), Cap. 410,Laws of theFederation of Nigeria. The maximum sentence was originally the deathpenalty but was reduced to life imprisonment by the Special Tribunal(Miscellaneous Offences) (Amendment) Decree no.22 of 1986, which also providedfor an appeal to a Special Appeal Tribunal. The original decree was promulgatedby the regime of Mohammadu Buhari, the amendment by Ibrahim Babangida.Miscellaneous offenses tribunals, composed of one judge, three members of thearmed forces and one police officer, may be created by the president andcommander in chief of the armed forces for any state.

[212][212]Ibid., sections 3(17) and (18).

[213][213]Ibid., section 11.

[214][214]Section 12(2) provides that "Any person who on or at any time after 31stDecember 1983 was arrested, detained or charged with an offence under any otherenactment amounting to an offence under this Act shall be liable to be triedand convicted in accordance with the relevant provisions of this Act and anycharge or information pending against him in or before any court or tribunalshall as from the making of this Act, abate."

[215][215]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[216][216]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 11, 1998.

[217][217]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, May 8, 1998.

[218][218]SPDC's February 3, 1995, press release announcing the establishment of the NDESmade clear the pressure Shell felt it was under by referring to "recentpoliticized and emotive campaigning [which] has clouded some very importantissues concerning the development of this region."

[219][219]SPDC's February 3, 1995, press release stated that the survey would "cataloguethe physical and biological diversity of the 70,000 square kilometre NigerDelta" including information on "population growth, migration, farming,deforestation, soil degradation, oil activities, road building and otherfactors, over time." The change of focus from this approach to one whichcentered on the human consequences of environmental degradation and oilactivities was largely the work of two members of the steering committee:Professor Claude Ake of the Centre for Advanced Social Science in PortHarcourt, and Struan Simpson of the Conservation Foundation in London.Professor Ake resigned from the committee in November 1995, in the wake of theexecution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists, and in protest atShell's response to the executions (he later died in a November 1996 planecrash). The Conservation Foundation withdrew its support for the project, andDr. Simpson resigned, in December 1997, as a result of the survey's failure tomake progress in achieving its terms of reference.

[220][220]NDES, "The Niger Delta Environmental Survey: Background and Mission," NDESBriefing Note 1, October 1995.


[222][222]NDES, The Niger Delta Environmental Survey: Terms of Reference," April 3, 1996.

[223][223]NDES, "The Niger Delta Environmental Survey: Background and Mission."

[224][224]G.O. Onosode, Chairman, Niger Delta Environmental Survey, "Text of PressBriefing on the Niger Delta Environmental Survey (NDES)," Sheraton Hotel,Lagos, September 10, 1996.

[225][225]See Judith Kimmerling,Amazon Crude(New York: Natural Resources Defense Council, 1991).

[226][226]In addition to members of the Igboid and Yoruboid language groups, Ijoid, Edoidand Delta Cross dialects are represented.

[227][227]Ijaw (sometimes spelled Ijo), has four main groups of dialects, each of whichmay itself be considered a language (that is, speakers within the dialect groupcannot understand speakers of another dialect group, though they can,generally, understand other dialects within the group): Eastern Ijaw (includingKalabari, Bile, Okrika, Ibani and Nkoro); Nembe-Akassa; Izon (including Bumo,Oporoma, Olodiama, Eastern Tarakiri, Basan, Apoi, Ikibiri, Ogboin, Ekpetiama,Kolokuma, and Gbanrain, all spoken in Yenagoa local government area); andKabou, Western Tarakiri, Tungbo, Oiyakiri, Kumbo Mein, and Iduwini, all spokenin Sagbama local government area); and Inland Ijaw (including Biseni, Okodia,and Oruma). This categorization is already a simplification of the situation onthe ground. E.E. Efere and Kay Williamson, "Languages," in E.J. Alagoa andTekena N. Tamuno (eds.),Land and Peopleof Nigeria: Rivers State(Port Harcourt: Riverside Communications, 1989).


[229][229]Willink Commission Report, chapter 5, paragraph 4.

[230][230]Ibid., chapter 6, paragraph 18; chapter 7, paragraphs 14-19.

[231][231]In the delta area the idea of a Rivers State took concrete form from 1953, withthe formation of the Council of Rivers Chiefs, later renamed the Rivers StateCongress and then Rivers Chiefs and Peoples' Congress. In 1957, the Niger DeltaCongress (NDC) was formed as a political party, under the leadership of ChiefHarold Dappa-Biriye, prominent in the Rivers State movement. The NDC formed analliance with the Northern Peoples' Congress (NPC), as support against themajority southern parties. A parallel movement existed for the creation of aCalabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR) State, as a more viable alternative. V.Reggie-Fulaba and A.I. Pepple, "Regional Government," and Ben Naanen and A.I.Pepple, "State Movements," both in Alagoa and Tamuno (eds.),Rivers State.

[232][232]Willink Commission Report, chapter 14, paragraph 28.

[233][233]Alagoa and Tamuno (eds.),Rivers State,introduction.

[234][234]In October 1998, the name of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force was resurrected bya coalition of youth groups involved in the closure of flow stations anddemanding increased investment in the oil producing regions.

[235][235]For the first fifteen months of its existence, the Rivers State governmentfunctioned in internal "exile." With the mid-1967 restoration of federalcontrol over Bonny, on the Atlantic coast, the governor of the new state, NavyLt. A.P. Diete-Spiff, established a civilian administration in Bonny under asole administrator, Ken Saro-Wiwa, later to lead the Movement for the Survivalof the Ogoni People.

[236][236]Reuters, April 27, 1997. While Human Rights Watch does not take a position onthe percentage of oil money that should be paid to the oil producing areas, wenote that this suggestion would imply that whole communities would be heldhostage for individual acts of sabotage, perpetuating many of the injusticesthat exist today.

[237][237]Reuters, March 13, 1998; text of Nigerian TV broadcast, March 13, 1998, asreported by BBC SWB, March 24, 1998.

[238][238]World Bank,Defining an EnvironmentalDevelopment Strategy, p.2-3; World Bank,World Development Report 1997, Table 1; see also, Uche Onyeagucha,Oronto Douglas, and Nick Ashton-Jones,TheHuman Habitat of Port Harcourt(Benin City: Environmental Rights Action,1995). The northern state of Sokoto, however, has fewer schools per capita thanDelta or the old Rivers State. Environmental Resources Managers LtdNiger Delta Environmental Survey FinalReport Phase I, Volume I, p.164.

[239][239]World Bank,Defining an EnvironmentalDevelopment Strategy, p.71.

[240][240]Ibid., p.70.

[241][241]Ibid., p.2.

[242][242]Ibid., p.16.

[243][243]Moffat and Lindén, "Perception and Reality," p.529.

[244][244]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.131.

[245][245]Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies,Statementof General Business Principles(London and The Hague: Shell, March 1997).

[246][246]Chevron,The Chevron Way, (SanFrancisco: Chevron, 1995).

[247][247]NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture,CommunityDevelopment Philosophy(Lagos: Chevron Nigeria Ltd, November 1997).

[248][248]SPDC,PAGE Fact Book, 1993section3.1.1.

[249][249]Shell International Petroleum Company,Operationsin Nigeria(London: May 1994).

[250][250]According to Shell, stepped up efforts to improve relations with communitiesresulted in a drop in the volume of oil of which the delivery was deferred dueto community disturbances, from 6.6 million barrels in 1995 to 1.1 millionbarrels in 1996; the length of time taken to resolve community disturbancesfell from seventeen days in 1995 to five days in 1996. However, the widespreaddisturbances of 1997 and 1998 may well have reversed this decline. SPDC,People and the Environment: Annual Report1996; Human Rights Watch meeting with SPDC, Port Harcourt, July 28, 1997.

[251][251]Ibid., and interviews with individuals and nongovernmental organizationsinvolved in negotiations with Shell. For a general overview of Shell'scommunity relations and other issues, see Doris Danler and Markus Brunner,Shell in Nigeria(Lagos and Cologne:Bread for the World, August 1996).

[252][252]Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited letter to Human Rights Watch, February 10,1998. Since Mobil's operations are mostly offshore, it is much less exposed tothe community protests that have affected Shell or to sabotage.

[253][253]According to Mobil, development projects include provision of health carefacilities and potable water, construction of roads, electrification, buildingand rehabilitation of schools, support for teachers and doctors in schools,clinics and hospitals, and scholarships for tertiary institutions. MobilProducing Nigeria Unlimited letter to Human Rights Watch February 10, 1998.

[254][254]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 8, 1997; Martin Usenekong, "Dilemma ofPublic Relations Committees,"Pioneer(Uyo), February 13, 1998.

[255][255]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[256][256]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

[257][257]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, May 8, 1998.


[259][259]Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

[260][260]Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

[261][261]Report of the Judicial Commission ofInquiry into the Umuechem Disturbances(Port Harcourt: Rivers StateGovernment, January 1991).

[262][262]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[263][263]James Jukwey, "Nigerian Troops Head to Oil Town to Restore Order," Reuters,April 23, 1997.

[264][264]Rivers State Government,Report of theJudicial Commission of Inquiry into the Umuechem Disturbances.

[265][265]Shell International Petroleum Company letter to P.V. Horsman, Oil Campaigner,Greenpeace, October 20, 1993.

[266][266]SPDC,PAGE Fact Book 1993, section6.1.

[267][267]Ibid., section 6.6; SPDC,People and theEnvironment: Annual Report 1996.

[268][268]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[269][269]SPDC, "Response to Environmental Rights Action (ERA) Monitor Report No. 3,Shell and Community Support in the Niger Delta," 1998.

[270][270]Environmental Rights Action, "Report to the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility,"April 1998.

[271][271]Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited letter to Human Rights Watch February 10,1998.

[272][272]The individual projects planned for 1998, according to Chevron, included tenblocks of six classrooms each, five three-bedroom bungalows for teachers, threescience blocks and laboratories, three secondary school dormitories, five steelboat-landing jetties, three town halls and civic centers and water projects innine communities. Chevron states that there are other health and agriculturalprojects that will begin in 1999 and future years. Chevron also has a "youthskills acquisition training project" for youths from its host communities.Letter from Chevron Nigeria Ltd to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[273][273]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, May 8, 1998.

[274][274]Nigerian Agip Oil Co Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, July 7, 1998. Details ofthe Green River Project were not supplied.

[275][275]According to a report for the Niger Delta Environmental Survey: "In the eyes ofthe community, causes of dissatisfaction include the following complaints:

· contracts are sometimes awarded to opinionleaders/chiefs in the oil producing communities who collect contract fees andabandon the project sites,

· some opinion leaders/chiefs collude with contractorsto falsely certify job completion in order to share a percentage of thecontract sum to the detriment of the community,

· oil companies sometimes initiate and executeill-defined projects which may quickly be abandoned or vandalised by people inthe community including influential individuals who then blame the oilcompanies in order to mobilise their communities in fresh demands for projects,

· projects are overvalued to obtain kickbacks,

· not all the community assistance projects may get tothe target communities,

· the projects may not have been initiated by thepeople,

· the dubious or corrupt role of opinionleaders/chiefs who collude with others to cheat or defraud companies,

· the projects are not economically viable,self-sustaining or easily maintained, so that they break down soon afterinstallation and commissioning, and

· projects are initiated and executed withoutconsultation with the benefiting community (e.g. the case where items ofhospital equipment were provided whereas the community has no healthinstitution)."

Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,Niger Delta Environmental Survey FinalReport Phase I, Volume I, p.228.

[276][276]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.226, citing a1994 report for SPDC (emphasis added).

[277][277]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[278][278]The audit reportedly involved some 60 personnel, who visited 425 projects (45percent of the total listed) across Shell's operational area and completedquestionnaires designed to assess their success. KPMG's verification of thisexercise was based on field visits carried out between October 13 and 27, 1997,to 181 projects split between Shell's east and west divisions. SPDC,SPDC Community Assistance Projects Review1992-1997(Lagos: SPDC, November 1997).

[279][279]"Shell axes ‘corrupt' Nigeria staff,"SundayTimes(London), December 17, 1995.

[280][280]Local government in Nigeria is carried out by local government authorities(LGA) which are responsible for local facilities and infrastructure. Each LGAis headed by a chairman, who is advised by councilors. Local governmentelections were held in March 1997, as part of the discredited "transitionprogram" of Gen. Sani Abacha, and those elected had little legitimacy. (SeeHuman Rights Watch/Africa, "Transition or Travesty?") Following the death ofGeneral Abacha, local government councils were dissolved and civil servantsappointed to manage their business, pending fresh elections under the programannounced by his successor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar: elections for new localgovernment councils were held on December 5, 1998. In addition, differentethnic groups and communities in Nigeria have traditional leaders or chiefschosen according to their particular traditions, as they have evolved over theyears in symbiosis with colonial and independent central governments. Thesetraditional leaders are also recognized by the federal or state governments,according to a scheme developed by the British under the system of "indirectrule" through local leaders, and may be paid a small stipend, which varies bythe seniority of the particular title. In the Niger Delta chiefs are generallychosen within communities by partly consultative processes, though descent is alsoa factor. Their status is thus somewhat ambivalent: while they receiverecognition from government, they also have some genuine respect withincommunities, though this can be jeopardized by a too-close relationship with,for example, the oil companies. In general, however, there is palpable distrustof traditional leaders and other "elders" within communities from the "youths"who are excluded from this system but may have more education and are anxiousfor power relations to be democratized at local level.

[281][281]Letter from Shell International Ltd to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[282][282]MOSOP alleges that many Ogonis have been forced to sign statements indicatingthat they want Shell to resume production in Ogoni; even so, it is clear thatsome Ogonis, those who stand to benefit, do want Shell to return.

[283][283]Letter from Chevron Nigeria Ltd to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998;interviews with members of Environmental Rights Action.

[284][284]"Internal divisions within the community also seem to have increased, mostfrequently between the youths and the chiefs, between youths and the communityurban and local elites, between youths and professional claims agents and thecommunity, as well as between different youth groups.... Thus in most cases,the conflict is directed against the chiefs who are seen as the focal point ofauthority and patronage." Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,Niger Delta Environmental Survey FinalReport Phase I, Volume I, p.230. While the term "youths" usually refers toyoung men, it is also used to refer in general to those who are not part of thepatronage system, and can include individuals well into middle age.

[285][285]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.230.

[286][286]"Inter-community conflicts had occurred frequently even before the exploitationof petroleum. However, they have become much more rampant since oilexploitation started. The conflict is usually over land where petroleum isfound, or where there are other forms of oil-related installations. Virtuallyall neighbouring villages in the Niger Delta where oil has been found haveexperienced such conflicts. Such conflicts are usually settled in the courts oflaw or through violence. There is considerable evidence that most of the courtcases between villages in the area are related to this dispute over oilrights." Ibid., p.258.

[287][287]Shell Briefing Note,Operations inNigeria.

[288][288]Human Rights Watch/Africa, "The Ogoni Crisis: A Case Study of MilitaryRepression in Southeastern Nigeria,"AHuman Rights Watch Short Report, vol.7, no.5, July 1995.

[289][289]Human Rights Watch interviews, Elele-Alimini, July 11, 1997.

[290][290]Joseph Ollor Obari, "Rival Groups Clash Over Shell Contracts,"Guardian(Lagos), July 16, 1997.

[291][291]"Oil Spill Largesse Tears LGA Apart,"Pioneer(Uyo), February 23 to March 1, 1998.

[292][292]Onyema Omenuwa, "Riverine War in Ondo,"TheWeek(Lagos), October 5, 1998; AFP, September 29, 1998; Alex Duval Smith,"Nigerian warriors seek spiritual aid as oil discovery stokes land dispute,"Guardian(London), October 8, 1998.

[293][293]Environmental Resources Managers Ltd,NigerDelta Environmental Survey Final Report Phase I, Volume I, p.148.

[294][294]In 1952, the traditional leader of the Itsekiri, previously known as the Olu ofItsekiri, was given instead the title of Olu of Warri, thus implying-positivelyin the eyes of the Itsekiri and negatively in the view of the Urhobo andIjaw-rights of control not only over the Itsekiri, but also over the otherethnic groups living in the Warri area. The change of title provoked riots inWarri. The 1957 Chiefs' Law (Cap. 19), however, excluded Ijaw areas from theOlu of Warri's authority. During the investigations of the Willink Commission,the Itsekiri argued that the Warri administrative district, which they regard astheir ancestral territory, should be excluded from the proposed Mid-West Stateand included in what was then the Ondo Province of the Yoruba Western Division.

[295][295]Reuters, March 27, 1997. During the same period, villagers protesting a mergerof two communities into one local government area in Bayelsa State closed fiveflow stations in Nembe Creek. In May 1997, youths occupied the same five flowstations in Nembe again forcing Shell to stop production. Reuters, March 28 andMay 13, 1997. In July 1997, SPDC reported that the Warri River flow station,abandoned during the Warri crisis, had been vandalized, and 80 percent of thefacility destroyed. Reuters, July 11, 1997.

[296][296]Roland Gribben, "Shell Delays Oil Exports after Nigerian Protests,"Daily Telegraph(London), April 2, 1997.

[297][297]Reuters, May 5, 1997.

[298][298]Energy Compass, vol.8, no.32, August8, 1997.

[299][299]James Jukwey, "Nigerian Troops Head to Oil Town to Restore Order," Reuters,April 23, 1997.

[300][300]Radio Nigeria, May 2, 1997, as reported by BBC SWB, May 6, 1997.

[301][301]Nigeria Today, June 25, 1997. HumanRights Watch has attempted to obtain a copy of the report of the commission,which was presented to Col. Dungs, but has been unable to do so.

[302][302]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[303][303]Oil and Gas Journal, March 31, 1997.

[304][304]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[305][305]Oma Djebah, "At the Commission, Endless Claims over Warri,"Guardian(Lagos), July 2, 1997.

[306][306]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[307][307]In September 1997, at least three people died in a raid by soldiers on an theIjaw community of Ekeremor Zion, and fifty-eight were reported arrested, whilesubstantial damage was done to the village. The clashes apparently resultedfrom the kidnapping by youths of four soldiers from the Warri task force duringthe previous month; one of the soldiers was reported to have been later founddead, and his colleagues carried out an indiscriminate reprisal raid.Environmental Rights Action later ascertained that some of the soldiersinvolved in the raid had been dismissed and others jailed by the militaryauthorities. Reuters, October 1, 2 and 3, 1997; Radio Kudirat Nigeria, October2, 1997 (Nigerian opposition radio), as reported by BBC SWB, October 2, 1997;Environmental Rights Action "Shell's Airport at Osubi"; communications fromEnvironmental Rights Action to Human Rights Watch. Franklin Atake, a retiredjudge and spokesman for the Itsekiri ethnic group, was detained for five daysin October 1997 by the military administrator of Delta State.

[308][308]AFP, October 22 and 23, 1998.

[309][309]The Police Act (originally promulgated in 1943, republished by Decree No. 41 of1967) provides (according to a 1965 amendment) for the appointment ofsupernumerary police by the inspector-general of police on the application of"any person ... who desires to avail himself of the services of one or morepolice officers for the protection of property owned or controlled by him." Apolice officer appointed in this way "shall be employed exclusively on dutiesconnected with the protection of that property," and "shall be a member of theForce for all purposes and shall accordingly be subject to the provisions ofthis Act and in particular the provisions thereof relating to discipline." Theperson for whom they are appointed is responsible for the cost of uniforms andfor payment to the officers designated. Police Act, section 14.

[310][310]In 1997, a visiting environmentalist from the U.S. was confronted by a man inplain clothes claiming to be "Shell police" at a Shell installation in PortHarcourt. He produced an identification card showing a picture of him inNigerian police uniform and the Shell logo. Kretzmann and Wright,Human Rights and Environmental OperationsInformation on the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies 1996-1997, p.10.

[311][311]Human Rights Watch meeting with SPDC, Port Harcourt, July 28, 1997.

[312][312]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[313][313]Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited letter to Human Rights Watch, February 10,1998.

[314][314]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, May 8, 1998.

[315][315]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, November 23, 1998.

[316][316]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[317][317]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[318][318]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

[319][319]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[320][320]SPDC, "Response to Human Rights Watch/Africa publication - The Ogoni Crisis: ACase Study of Military Repression in Southeastern Nigeria, July 1994 [sic]," attached to SPDC letter to HumanRights Watch, July 6, 1995.

[321][321]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[322][322]Complaint submitted to the British Broadcasting Complaints Commission, November1995; reply of Shell International Limited to response of Channel 4, June 10,1996.

[323][323]SPDC letter to Human Rights Watch, July 6, 1995. As noted below, soldiers havebeen reported at Shell sites on several occasions.

[324][324]"Osubi Airport Project: Shell Nigeria's Response to Allegations by ERA," SPDCPress Release, March 23, 1998.

[325][325]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[326][326]Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited letter to Human Rights Watch, February 10,1998.


[328][328]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, May 8, 1998.

[329][329]SPDC,Shell in Nigeria, December1995.

[330][330]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[331][331]Shell,Profits and Principles-does therehave to be a choice?(London: Shell International, May 1998), p.38. Incorrespondence with the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, Shellquoted a paragraph from SPDC's guidelines on the use of external security, onwhich its comments to Human Rights Watch are clearly based: "Under no conditionor circumstance must SPDC, or any contractor working, or about to work forSPDC, engage, or cause to be engaged, the services of any military orparamilitary force (e.g. MOPOL), for the protection of SPDC facilities and worklocations or, for the protection of transportation to and from such facilitiesand locations." SPDC, "Response to Environmental Rights Action," p.2.

[332][332]Reuters, August 30, 1996.

[333][333]James Jukwey, "Nigerian Troops Head to Oil Town to Restore Order," Reuters,April 23, 1997.

[334][334]Platts Commodity News(London), March25, 1998

[335][335]Philip Nwosu, "Navy Reads Riot Act to Youths in Oil-Producing Areas,"Post Express Wired, September 6, 1998.

[336][336]Environmental Rights Action, "Don't Militarize Bayelsa," Press Statement,August 12, 1997.

[337][337]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[338][338]"Nigerian Government to Build Naval Base in Bayelsa State," Kaduna RadioNigeria, December 5, 1997, as reported by FBIS, December 7, 1997; "MinisterUrges Increased Security in Rivers State," Lagos Radio Nigeria, March 22, 1998,as reported by FBIS, March 24, 1998;NigeriaToday, April 17, 1998;Nigeria Today,October 28, 1998;Opecna Bulletin,November 27, 1998.

[339][339]Environmental Rights Action, "Unprecedented State of Emergency Declared inNiger Delta," Press Statement, December 31, 1998; Reuters, December 31, 1998.

[340][340]Letter from J.R. Udofia, SPDC Divisional Manager (East) to the Commissioner ofPolice, Rivers State, October 29, 1990. The Mobile Police are a paramilitarybody with a reputation for brutality and abuse of power.

[341][341]Rivers State Government,Report of theJudicial Commission of Inquiry into the Umuechem Disturbances.

[342][342]Anyakwee Nsirimovu,The Massacre of anOil Producing Community: The Umuechem Tragedy Revisited(Institute of HumanRights and Humanitarian Law: Port Harcourt, November 1994).

[343][343]Ken Saro-Wiwa,Genocide in Nigeria: TheOgoni Tragedy(Port Harcourt: Saros, 1992), p.81.

[344][344]SPDC,Nigeria Brief: The Ogoni Issue(Lagos: SPDC, January 1995).

[345][345]Human Rights Watch/Africa, "The Ogoni Crisis"; see alsoOgoni: Trials and Travails(Lagos: Civil Liberties Organisation,1996).

[346][346]Ibid., see also Michael Birnbaum Q.C.,FundamentalRights 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 Caseof Ken Saro-Wiwa and Others(London: Article 19, December 1995). Afact-finding team appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General, which traveled toNigeria in April 1996, noted numerous defects in the trial process underinternational 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.

[347][347]Birnbaum,Travesty of Law and Justice,p.2.

[348][348]Their names are: Samson Ntignee, Nyieda Nasikpo, Nwinbari Abere Papah, SamuelAsiga, 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, MichaelDogala, and Kale Beete.

[349][349]The practice of filing "holding charges" before magistrates' courts, even whenthose courts do not have jurisdiction to try the case (as in the case ofmurder) is a common practice of the Nigerian police, despite criticisms fromhuman rights organizations and rulings of the Court of Appeal that no suchprocedure exists in Nigerian law. The charge is used to obtain an order thatthe accused be kept in custody pending the preparation of the case before thetribunal in which it will be heard.

[350][350]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 12, 1997.

[351][351]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.

[352][352]Amnesty International, "Urgent Action," UA 16/98, January 16, 1998; MOSOP pressreleases January 12, 1998 and list of detainees faxed by MOSOP to Human RightsWatch, February 20, 1998. Whenever Human Rights Watch has been able to checkcases of detention, beating, or summary execution alleged by MOSOP, they haveproved correct.

[353][353]MOSOP Press Statements, March 20 and 23, 1998.

[354][354]MOSOP Press Statement, August 11, 1998.

[355][355]"Ogoni 20 Free!" MOSOP Press Release, September 8, 1998.

[356][356]"Ogoni Rights Group Leader Returns from Exile," Lagos Radio Nigeria Network, asreported by FBIS, November 28, 1998; "Executions Remembered in Ogoniland," BBCNews, November 10, 1998; AFP, November 10, 1998; MOSOP Press Statement,November 10, 1998.

[357][357]For example, "The Ogonis: A Case of Genocide in Rivers State," leafletdistributed by the Council for Ikwerre Nationality, 1994.

[358][358]Charter of Demands of the Ogbia People,1992.

[359][359]The Chikoko Movement, "Reclaiming our Humanity," and "Enough is Enough,"leaflets published August 1997.

[360][360]Text of Kaiama Declaration, December 11, 1998.

[361][361]Two prominent union activists also spent several years in prison under theAbacha government following a nationwide strike of oil workers in protest atthe cancellation of the 1993 elections. Frank Kokori, secretary-general of theNational 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 StaffAssociation 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 PENGASSANand appointed sole administrators for the unions; these decrees have beenrepealed by General Abubakar.

[362][362]Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

[363][363]Human Rights Watch press releases, June 1 and 2, 1998.

[364][364]Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

[365][365]Statement by Shelley Braithwaite for Human Rights Watch, August 17, 1998.

[366][366]IFEX (International Freedom of Expression Exchange) Alert, April 1, 1998.

[367][367]Media Monitor(Lagos, IndependentJournalism Centre), August 3, 1998.

[368][368]James Jukwey, "Nigerian Navy Rescues Hostages on Oil Barge," Reuters, March 14,1997;Oil and Gas Journal, March 31,1997.

[369][369]Reuters, August 19 and 20, and September 1, 1997.

[370][370]Reuters, October 6, 1997.

[371][371]Reuters, October 9, 1997.

[372][372]Reuters, October 21, 1997.

[373][373]Reuters, November 12 and 14, 1997; Radio Kudirat Nigeria, November 13, 1997, asreported by BBC SWB, November 17, 1997.

[374][374]Reuters, December 19 and 24, 1997.

[375][375]Independent(London), December 16,1997; PR Newswire, December 17, 1997.

[376][376]Reuters, January 21, 1998.

[377][377]Reuters, March 12, 1998.

[378][378]Reuters, March 12, 1998.

[379][379]Reuters, March 12 and 20, 1998.

[380][380]Reuters, May 11, 1998.

[381][381]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.41, August28, 1998, and vol.9, no.45, November 6, 1998. Production was estimated to haverisen 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.

[382][382]Reuters, June 28 and 30, 1998.

[383][383]Reuters, August 26, 1998.

[384][384]Matthew Tostevin, "Nigeria's Southern Oil Region on the Boil," Reuters, July23, 1998.

[385][385]Reuters, August 21, 1998;Lloyd's List,August 26, 1998.

[386][386]Lloyd's List, July 27 and 31, 1998;Reuters July 23 and 24, 1998; Reuters, August 17, 21 and 24, 1998.

[387][387]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.41, October9, 1998.

[388][388]Reuters, November 11, 1998.

[389][389]AFP, October 11, 1998; Hilary Andersson, "Nigerians turn to magic in fightagainst oil firms,"Independent(London), November 7, 1998..

[390][390]AFP, October 14, 1998.

[391][391]AFP, November 12 to 18, 1998.

[392][392]Reuters, December 9, 1998; AP, December 10, 1998.

[393][393]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[394][394]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[395][395]Environmental Rights Action, "Chevron's Commando Raid," ERA's EnvironmentalTestimonies No.5, July 10, 1998.

[396][396]Human Rights Watch interview, Tuomo, July 15, 1997.

[397][397]Shell stated to Human Rights Watch that the divisional police officer, whowitnessed the protest, reported it to his superiors at the state headquarters,who decided to send the Mobile Police, without consulting SPDC. ShellInternational Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[398][398]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998. Formore on the meeting with the governor, see below.

[399][399]Human Rights Watch interviews, including with some of those detained, July 19,1997.

[400][400]Environmental Rights Action,sHell in Iko;Human Rights Watch interview with Bruce Powell, June 20, 1998.

[401][401]A major confrontation took place in 1987 between thecommunity and the MobilePolice, in which a large number of houses were burnt down. Many of these housesare still not rebuilt, while some of those who lived in them have moved away toa nearby community and not returned. See, Environmental Rights Action,sHell in Iko.

[402][402]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 9, 1997.

[403][403]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[404][404]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[405][405]Human Rights Watch interviews, Elele, July 11, 1997.

[406][406]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 21, 1997; Shell International Ltd letter toHuman Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[407][407]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

[408][408]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[409][409]Those arrested included Chief COB Aliba, Kennet Aliba, Matt Ajari, BernardOjimadu, Maxwell Okunwa, Edwin Aleto, Edwin Egbu, Gozie Nwaribe, EmmanuelNgbenwa, Jackson Otusu, Chigozie Okwufa, Chukwuemeke Ozinapa, Thankgod Amanya,and Okwudini Osae. Human Rights Watch interviews, July 4, 1997.

[410][410]Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997.

[411][411]Letter from the same interviewee, sent from Togo, October 24, 1997.

[412][412]There was a major demonstration of several thousand people in the village in1992, as a result of which more than thirty people were detained for up toseveral months, and a judicial commission of inquiry appointed.

[413][413]Those detained were Chinedu Akpelu, Robinson Akpelu, Goodwill Amadi, MovieAmuku, Eric Anokuru, Sylvanus Assor, Amos Chuwume, Stephen Ihuanne, EziekielIsaiah, Simeon Ogoda, Sunday Ogoda, and Maxwell Ordu. Human Rights Watchinterviews, July 11, 1997.

[414][414]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[415][415]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 15, 1997.

[416][416]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[417][417]Shell provided Human Rights Watch with a copy of a memorandum on the letterheadof 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 ofbottles of beer, gin, soft drinks and biscuits); contribution of _225,000(U.S.$2,500) towards purchase of "some electrical items"; employment of localyouths on the project and award of minor contracts to community members; and anend-of-contract bonus to be paid to each community worker. Attachment to ShellInternational Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[418][418]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

[419][419]The letter reads, in part, "We hereby report that some members of the abovenamed committee [the "12-man" liaison committee for the project] in Edagberi-Joinkaramayesterday 15.06.97 seized some of our trucks and equipment. The committeemembers are demanding from us one hundred and fifty bags of cement and sixteendrums of diesel. ... We want to state that we have fulfilled all ourobligations to the community. Members of the 12-man committee are principalsignatories to all agreements and these two items were not part of anyagreement." The letter went on to state that youths had refused Alcon access tothe site and "extorted" fifty-five bags of cement and _4,000 (U.S.$44) beforeallowing work to continue, and that one youth had demanded that Alcon refundhim _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, weappeal for your quick intervention to save us from further harassment, violentthreats and attack." Attachment to Shell International Ltd letter to HumanRights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[420][420]Those arrested were Onis Adolphus, Eshimvie Dimkpa, Chief Kalix Echi, EnochEli, Atu Famous, Chief Humphrey Jacob, Joshua Marcy, Chief Akporokpo Orugbani,Owievie Osuolo, and Nwase Wayas. Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

[421][421]Letter from Chevron Nigeria Ltd to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998; HumanRights Watch interviews, Warri, July 15, 1997.

[422][422]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[423][423]Human Rights Watch interviews, Warri, July 15, 1997.

[424][424]Alphonsus Agborh, "How Adeusi charmed a blood-thirsty Eket mob,"Punch(Lagos), January 28, 1998; RemiOyo, "Communities Want Compensation for Oil Spill," IPS, February 5, 1998;Reuters, February 2, 1998.

[425][425]Jude Okwe, "Oil Spillage Victims yet to be Compensated,"Post Express Wired, August 7, 1998.

[426][426]Environmental Rights Action, "Chevron's Commando Raid."

[427][427]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

[428][428]"Minutes of a Meeting held with the Ilaje Concessional Group at Obe-SedaraComunity, held on May 14, 1998." Human Rights Watch asked Chevron to comment onthese observations, but received no response.

[429][429]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

[430][430]"Chevron, Oil Communities, Fail to Agree on Compensation,"Punch(Lagos), July 16, 1998.

[431][431]Environmental Rights Action, "Chevron's Commando Raid."

[432][432]Chevron Nigeria Limited letter to Human Rights Watch, December 11, 1998.

[433][433]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, June 29, 1998.

[434][434]"Group Prepares to Sue Chevron Over Nigeria Deaths," Reuters, October 12, 1998.

[435][435]Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill, "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria'sOil Dictatorship," transcript of broadcast onDemocracy Nowprogram, Pacifica Radio, October 1, 1998.

[436][436]Chevron Nigeria Limited letter to Human Rights Watch, December 11, 1998.

[437][437]Among the demands listed by the women in a "Charter of Demands" were theremoval of Mr. Joseph Wehaibe and Mrs B.D. Adele from the staff of Ponticelli,contractors to Elf; electrification of the Egi community and provision ofpipe-borne water; removal of Mr. Bakare, the Elf security manager in Port Harcourt;and the immediate implementation of a 1993 agreement between Elf and the Egipeople (described in Human Rights Watch's 1995 report "The Ogoni Crisis"),which, according to the community, had not been fulfilled. Statements fromND-HERO, October 14 and November 24, 1998; telephone interviews with AzibaolaRobert, ND-HERO.

[438][438]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, November 23, 1998.

[439][439]Kaiama Declaration, December 11, 1998.

[440][440]Environmental Rights Action, "Unprecedented State of Emergency Declared inNiger 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..

[441][441]The 1999 Federal Budget address by General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

[442][442]Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, Azibaola Robert, ND-HERO, January 3and 4, 1999.

[443][443]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 5, 1997.

[444][444]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 4, 1997.

[445][445]Human Rights Watch interviews, June 21, 1996.

[446][446]SPDC v. HRH Chief GBA Tiebo VII and fourothers[1996] 4 NWLR (Part 445), p.657.

[447][447]SPDC v. Chief George Uzoaru and threeothers[1994] 9 NWLR (part 366), p.51.

[448][448]Elf Nigeria Ltd v. Opere Sillo and DanielEtsemi[1994] 6 NWLR (Part 350), p.258.

[449][449]John Eboigbe v. NNPC[1994] 5 NWLR(Part 347), p.649.

[450][450][1995] 3 NWLR (Part 382) p.148.

[451][451]Judgment inChief Joel Anare and Othersv. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, Suit No. HCB/35/89,Delta State High Court, Ughelli Division, May 27, 1997.

[452][452]"Enough is Enough," August 1997.

[453][453]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 1997. See further below, in the section onthe role and responsibilities of the oil companies.

[454][454]Shell International Petroleum Company letter to Human Rights Watch, January 13,1995.


[456][456]SPDC, "Response to Human Rights Watch/Africa publication."

[457][457]Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited letter to Human Rights Watch, February 10,1998.

[458][458]Shell International Petroleum Company letter to Prof. John Heath, December 22,1994.

[459][459]Reuters, May 13, 1997.

[460][460]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[461][461]Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, March 11, 1998.

[462][462]MPNU letter to Human Rights Watch, February 10, 1998.

[463][463]Christopher Hopson, "Mobil targets Nigeria over rights abuses,"Upstream News(Oslo), May 22, 1998.

[464][464]"Flash Points in the Ogoni Story: What Happened and Lessons Learned," briefingavailable on the Shell web site ( as of October 1,1997.

[465][465]See, Human Rights Watch/Africa, "The Ogoni Crisis," for further detail. A caseis being brought against Shell in the U.S. District Court (Southern District ofNew York) on behalf of Ken and Owens Wiwa (son and brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa),Blessing Kpuinen (wife of John Kpuinen, leader of the youth division of MOSOP,also hanged in November 1995), and one other, in relation to the hangings ofthe "Ogoni Nine," alleging that "Defendants were the employers of and/orworking in concert with the Nigerian military regime" and claiming damages. Noticeof Motion in Case No. 96 Civ. 8386,KenWiwa and Owens Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Transport andTrading Company PLC.

[466][466]Complaint submitted to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, November 1995;reply of Shell International Limited to response of Channel 4, June 10, 1996.

[467][467]See Human Rights Watch/Africa, "The Ogoni Crisis," p.38.

[468][468]"Shell axes ‘corrupt' Nigeria staff,"SundayTimes(London), December 17, 1995.

[469][469]Kretzmann and Wright,Human Rights andEnvironmental Operations Information on the Royal Dutch/Shell Group ofCompanies 1996-97, p.11. Copies of statements referred to in the report onfile with Human Rights Watch. Two of the "Ogoni Twenty," Blessing Israel andKagbara Basseeh, alleged that Shell police had a direct role in their arrestand torture.

[470][470]Shell International Petroleum Company letter to Human Rights Watch, January 13,1995.

[471][471]SPDC, "Response to Human Rights Watch/Africa publication."


[473][473]Complaint submitted to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, November 1995;reply of Shell International Limited to response of Channel 4, June 10, 1996.

[474][474]SPDC, "Response to Environmental Rights Action."

[475][475]Environmental Rights Action, "Shell in the Niger Delta 1997/98: A Brief Reportto Sierra Club USA, from ERA, Benin City, Nigeria," May 1998. Shell stated that"The only time that soldiers have been at the site [Osubi] was during a briefvisit of the military administrator of Delta State as part of his escort andconforming to the usual protocol." "Osubi Airport Project: Shell Nigeria'sResponse to Allegations by ERA," SPDC Press Release, March 23, 1998).

[476][476]Complaint submitted to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, November 1995.

[477][477]Immediately following the November 10, 1995, executions of the Ogoni Nine, SPDCannounced, on December 15, 1995, that the construction contract for theNigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, of which Shell is a 25.6 percentshareholder, had been signed-a diplomatic coup for the Nigerian government. Inan advertisement placed in many newspapers, Shell defended this decision: "Somesay we should pull out. And we understand why. But if we do so now, the projectwill collapse. Maybe for ever. So let's be clear about who we'd be hurting. Notthe present Nigerian government, if that's the intention. ... the people of theNiger Delta would certainly suffer-the thousands who will work on the project,and thousands more who will benefit in the local economy. ... Whatever youthink of the Nigerian situation today, we know you wouldn't want us to hurt theNigerian people. Or jeopardise their future." "If we're investing in Nigeriayou have the right to know why," advertisement on behalf of Shell placed in theGuardian(London), November 17, 1995.

[478][478]"Clear Thinking in Troubled Times," SPDC Press Statement, October 31, 1995.

[479][479]"Statement by Mr Brian Anderson, Managing Director, The Shell PetroleumDevelopment Company of Nigeria Limited," SPDC Press Release, November 8, 1995.

[480][480]"Execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his co-defendants," SPDC Press Statement,November 14, 1995.

[481][481]"Execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his co-defendants," Statement by SPDC directorBrian Anderson, November 14, 1995; "Shell reaffirms support for Human Rightsand Fair Trial," Shell International Limited Press Release, January 30, 1996.

[482][482]"Fair Trials for the Ogoni 19," Shell International Limited Press Release, May17, 1996.

[483][483]"Report of the fact-finding mission of the Secretary-General to Nigeria," AnnexI to U.N. Document A/50/960, May 28, 1996.

[484][484]Kretzmann and Wright,Human Rights andEnvironmental Operations Information on the Royal Dutch/Shell Group ofCompanies 1996-97, pp.11-12; Human Rights Watch/Africa, "PermanentTransition," pp.40-41.

[485][485]SPDC Press Release, May 13, 1997.


[487][487]Dulue Mbachu, "Shell hopes for deal with Nigeria's Ogonis," Reuters, June 27,1997.

[488][488]"MOSOP's Reaction to Shell's Ogoni Re-entry Plan," MOSOP Press Release, June30, 1997.

[489][489]MOSOP Press Statement, March 12, 1998.

[490][490]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, April 9, 1998, with"Response Statement to MOSOP Press Release of 12 March 1998," attached.

[491][491]"Firearms-The Shell Position,"SPDCPress Release, January 17, 1996; "Shell does not import firearms into Nigeria,"SPDCPress Release, January 31,1996.

[492][492]"Shell and the Supernumerary Police in Nigeria,"SPDCPress Release, February 9, 1996.

[493][493]Polly Ghazi and Cameron Duodu, "How Shell tried to buy Berettas for Nigerians,"Observer(London) February 11, 1996.The proceedings were brought by XM Federal Limited, a company dealing in armsregistered in London, and its Nigerian subsidiary against SPDC for breach ofcontract. Human Rights Watch has seen copies of the court documents, in whichthe plaintiffs allege that they had initiated purchases for Shell in relianceon a contract for the supply of weapons and ammunition, when SPDC unexpectedlyindicated in a letter to the police that it believed the price too high andthat "consequently we may have to suspend all activity on arms procurementuntil further notice." SPDC had subsequently re-invited tenders from theplaintiffs for the same weaponry. The managing director of the Nigeriansubsidiary had obtained the authorization of the Inspector General of Policefor the weapons upgrade and purchase of semi-automatic weapons, with which thecontract was concerned, only after personal intervention at the behest ofShell. The Nigerian subsidiary noted in correspondence to SPDC that "since thecountry is under some form of embargo by the Western Nations, we have had toarrange a delivery through a third party." Statement of claim and annexures inX.M. Federal Limited and Humanitex NigeriaLimited v. SPDC and Mr. V. Oteri, Case No. FHC/L/CS/849/95.

[494][494]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, November 6, 1996.

[495][495]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 1997.

[496][496]Letter from Shell International Ltd to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[497][497]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 19, 1997.

[498][498]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[499][499]A youth from Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni local government area, where the Nigeria LNGproject is being built, also told Human Rights Watch that he had beenthreatened by a manager with C&C construction that he should "learn thelessons" from Ken Saro-Wiwa's case, when he refused to settle a claim againstthe company for assault. Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997, and letterfrom the same interviewee to Human Rights Watch, October 24, 1997.

[500][500]Human Rights Watch interviews, July 19, 1997.

[501][501]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[502][502]Human Rights Watch interview, July 4, 1997, and letter from the sameinterviewee, sent from Togo, October 24, 1997.

[503][503]SPDC, "Response to Human Rights Watch/Africa publication."

[504][504]Letter from Alcon Nigeria Ltd to the Divisional Police Officer, Ahoada-WestLocal Government Area, June 26, 1997.

[505][505]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[506][506]Shell International Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, February 13, 1998.

[507][507]Goodman and Scahill, "Drilling and Killing"; Chevron Nigeria Ltd letter toHuman Rights Watch, December 11, 1998.

[508][508]As noted above, Chevron's official policy is that: "Whenever the need torequest for help arises, CNL Security insists on exercising reasonable controlover those deployed to assist, ensuring that no more than the minimum forcerequired to bring a situation under control is applied."

[509][509]Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd letter to Human Rights Watch, November 23, 1998.

[510][510]Nigeria Today, February 3, 1998.

[511][511]Mobil, on the other hand, claims that "We have always had an enviable andunrivaled policy on community relations for many years, and it was notnecessary for us to revise it after the Ogoni Crisis." Mobil Producing NigeriaUnlimited letter to Human Rights Watch, February 10, 1998.

[512][512]The previous version of the Business Principles expressed the responsibilitiesof Shell companies towards society as: "To conduct business as responsiblecorporate members of society, observing applicable laws of the countries inwhich they operate and giving proper regard to health, safety and environmentalstandards."

[513][513]PIRC Intelligence, vol.11, issue 5,May 1997.

[514][514]Shell,Profits and Principles, p.2.

[515][515]Ibid., p.33.

[516][516]SPDC,SPDC Community Assistance ProjectsReview 1992-1997(Lagos: SPDC, November 1997); SPDC,Stakeholders' Environmental Workshop (Port Harcourt, April 15 to 17,1998): Proceedings(Lagos: SPDC, April 1998); program and papers from "SPDCCommunity Development Listeners' Symposium: October 21-23, 1998."

[517][517]Specifically, ERA said it was rejecting Shell's invitation because: "(I) thereis no evidence that SPDC has now acquired ‘a responsible approach to communityrelations and community development' as the invitation claimed. Instead Shellstill prefers to use force in dealing with peaceful requests by the communitiesfor basic necessities of life; (ii) the Managing Director of SPDC according tothe consultation agenda has the final say. Meaning that the workshop is justone of Shell's public relations efforts; (iii) the field is not level betweenSPDC and the principal stakeholders which the oil company wants to meet. WhileShell is protected by the military, the people of Nigeria's oil producing areasface death as the Ogoni crisis clearly shows; and (iv) the invitation does nottalk about protecting the environmental human rights of the oil communities.Rather, the workshop will focus ‘on the ultimate environmental objectives ofShell Nigeria.'" ERA Press Statement, April 15, 1998.

[518][518]The African Charter was incorporated into Nigerian domestic law by the AfricanCharter Ratification and Enforcement Act of 1983, although successive militarydecrees have purported to suspend its operation in particular cases. In thecase ofChief Gani Fawehinmi v. GeneralSani Abacha and others([1996] 9 NWLR p.710), the Lagos division of the FederalCourt of Appeal affirmed that "The provisions of the African Charter on Humanand Peoples' Rights are in a class of their own and do not fall within theclassification of the hierarchy of local legislations in Nigeria in order ofsuperiority. ... The law is in full force and because of its genesis it has anaura of inviolability unlike most municipal laws and may as long as it is inthe statute book be clothed with vestment of inviolability."

[519][519]The "Ogoni Bill of Rights" adopted by MOSOP, for example, states that therights listed are demanded "as equal members of the Nigerian Federation whocontribute and have contributed to the growth of the Federation and have aright to expect full returns from that Federation"; the "Kaiama Declaration"agreed by an Ijaw youths conference on December 11, 1998, "agreed to workwithin Nigeria by to demand and work for self government and resource controlfor the Ijaw people."

[520][520]In October 1995, a group of experts in international law, security, and humanrights, convened by the free expression organization Article 19 incollaboration with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies of the University ofthe Witwatersrand, South Africa, adopted the "Johannesburg Principles onNational Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information," which,while not binding under international law, provide guidelines as to what mightbe considered a correct interpretation of international law on this subject.

[521][521]For further detail on this response, see Human Rights Watch/Africa, "PermanentTransition."

[522][522]On October 20, 1991, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting adopted theHarare Declaration, which committed members of the Commonwealth to "certainfundamental principles," including liberty of the individual, equal rights forall citizens, and "the individual's inalienable right to participate by meansof free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which heor she lives."

[523][523]CMAG examined, in the first instance, the cases of Nigeria, Sierra Leone andthe Gambia, the three Commonwealth countries at the time of the CHOGM meetingwithout elected governments, though Nigeria dominated the discussions evenbefore elected governments were restored in the Gambia and Sierra Leone.

[524][524]On April 23, 1996, following its second meeting, CMAG recommended variousmeasures to press for change in Nigeria, including visa restrictions on anddenial of educational facilities to members ofthe Nigerian regime and theirfamilies, withdrawal of military attachés and cessation of military training,an embargo on the export of arms, a visa-based ban on sporting contacts, andthe downgrading of diplomatic and cultural links. It was also recommended thata ban on air links and additional economic measures, including freezing thefinancial assets and bank accounts in foreign countries of members of theregime and their families, should be considered in consultation with the E.U.,U.S. and other members of the international community. At a further meeting onJune 24-25, 1996, however, the imposition of the sanctions agreed in April,which had been delayed to give Nigeria time to engage in dialogue with CMAGabout its human rights record, was further postponed, although existingmeasures consequent on Nigeria's suspension from the Commonwealth remained inplace.

[525][525]Tenth Meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the HarareDeclaration (CMAG), "Joint Statement on Nigeria," London, October 9, 1998. Theeight members of CMAG are currently Zimbabwe (chair), New Zealand, UnitedKingdom, Canada, Ghana, Malaysia, Barbados, and Botswana (in October 1997,Barbados and Botswana replaced Jamaica and South Africa, who had originallybeen in the group).

[526][526]General Assembly resolution 50/199 on the Situation of Human Rights in Nigeria,December 22, 1995.

[527][527]Annex I to U.N. Document A/50/960.

[528][528]"Situation of human rights in Nigeria: Report submitted by the SpecialRapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Soli Jehangir Sorabjee,pursuant to Commission resolution 1997/53," U.N. Document E/CN.4/1998/62.

[529][529]"Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and CulturalRights: Nigeria," U.N. Document E/C.12/1/Add.23, May 13, 1998.

[530][530]"Situation of human rights in Nigeria: Interim Report prepared by the SpecialRapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights in accordance with GeneralAssembly resolution 52/144 and Economic and Social Council decision 1998/262,"U.N. Document A/53/366.

[531][531]"U.N. Envoy Urges Probe of Damage Caused by Oil Companies in Nigeria," AP,November 30, 1998.

[532][532]ILO Press Release, "Freedom of Association: ILO Mission Completes its Visit toNigeria," August 1998; "Report on the Direct Contacts Mission to Nigeria (17 to21 August 1998)," ILO Document GB.273/15/1, November 1998.

[533][533]Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights letter toHuman Rights Watch, December 8, 1998. Decisions of the African Commission areonly made public following adoption by the OAU Assembly of Heads of State andGovernment.

[534][534]By Common Positions of the Council of the European Union dated November 20,1995 and December 4, 1995, European Union member states agreed to impose visarestrictions on members (including civilians) of the Nigerian ProvisionalRuling Council and the Federal Executive Council and their families (inaddition to members of the Nigerian military and security forces and theirfamilies, on whom restrictions were imposed in 1993); to expel all militarypersonnel attached to the diplomatic missions of Nigeria in member states andto withdraw all military personnel attached to diplomatic missions of E.U.members in Nigeria; to deny visas to official delegations in the field ofsports and to national teams; to introduce a prospective embargo on arms,munitions and military equipment (allowing existing contracts to be fulfilled);and to suspend development cooperation except to projects through NGOs andlocal civilian authorities.

[535][535]Energy Compass, vol.9, no.35, August28, 1998.

[536][536]The French government succeeded in obtaining a modification to E.U. visarestrictions in November 1997 that would allow the Nigerian team to play in the1998 soccer world cup and would also allow E.U. member states to grant visas tomembers of the government on "urgent humanitarian grounds." E.U. Council ofMinisters Common Position of November 28, 1997.

[537][537]In addition, dialogue on development cooperation may be renewed, with a view tore-engagement after the installation of a civilian government; in the meantime,development cooperation may continue only for actions in support of humanrights and democracy, and concentrating on poverty alleviation in the contextof decentralized cooperation through local civilian authorities and NGOs. E.U.Council of Ministers Common Position of October 28, 1998. The Common Positionwill be reviewedon or before June 1, 1999.

[538][538]Lagos NTA Television Network, November 21, 1998, as reported by FBIS, November21, 1998.

[539][539]The United States extended pre-existing restrictions on military links (whichincluded the termination in July 1993 of all military assistance and training)by banning the sale and repair of military goods. It extended a pre-existingban on the issue of visas to senior military officers and senior governmentofficials and their families to cover "all military officers and civilians whoactively formulate, implement or benefit from policies that impede Nigeria'stransition to democracy"; and introduced a requirement that Nigerian governmentofficials visiting the U.N. or international financial institutions in the U.S.remain within twenty-five miles of those organizations. It also stated it wouldbegin consultations immediately on appropriate U.N. measures.

[540][540]James Rupert, "Clinton Sows Some Confusion on Nigeria Policy,"Washington Post, March 28, 1998.

[541][541]They include: Alameda County, California; Berkeley, California; Oakland,California; St Louis, Missouri; Amherst, Massachusetts; Cambridge,Massachusetts; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

[542][542]See, for example, Ken Silverstein, "Nigeria Deception,"Multinational Monitor, January/February 1998, vol. 19, nos. 1 and 2.

[543][543]Het Financieele Dagblad(Netherlands), November 20, 1997.

[544][544]Paragraph 8, ILO Document OB Vol.LXI, 1978, Series A, No.1. The ILO is atripartite organization, with representatives of governments, business, andlabor having access to its decision-making organs as members of nationaldelegations.

[545][545]Negotiations on the code ground to a halt in 1992, opposed by the corporationsthemselves and by governments from the developed world, due to concerns at lackof protection for intellectual property rights, profit repatriation andexpropriation of property. See, Barbara A. Frey, "The Legal and EthicalResponsibilities of Transnational Corporations in the Protection ofInternational Human Rights,"MinnesotaJournal of Global Trade(Winter 1997) vol.6, pp.153-188.

[546][546]Article 1(1) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials inInternational Business Transactions, adopted by the Negotiating Conference ofthe OECD, November 21, 1997. The convention enters into force on the sixtiethday following the date on which five of the ten countries with the largestexport shares and which represent by themselves at least 60 percent of thetotal exports of those ten countries have ratified the convention. The membersof the OECD are: the U.S., Germany, Japan, France, the U.K., Italy, Canada,Korea, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg (the ten largest; Belgium andLuxembourg are counted together for export figures), Spain, Switzerland,Sweden, Mexico, Australia, Denmark, Austria, Norway, Ireland, Finland, Poland,Portugal, Turkey, Hungary, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Greece, andIceland.

[547][547]Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, section 30A(a).

[548][548]In May 1997, the European Council adopted a Convention on the Fight againstCorruption Involving Officials of the European Communities or Officials ofMember States of the European Union, which establishes a commitment by memberstates of the E.U. to take necessary measures to make bribery a criminaloffence at national level, but the convention does not apply outside the E.U.

This report is an exploration of human rights violations related to oil exploration and productionin the Niger Delta, and of the role and responsibilities of the major multinational oil companies inrespect of those violations. The Niger Delta has for some years been the site of majorconfrontations between the people who live there and the Nigerian government security forces,resulting in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and draconian restrictions on the rightsto freedom of expression, association, and assembly. These violations of civil and political rightshave been committed principally in response to protests about the activities of the multinationalcompanies that produce Nigeria's oil. Although the June 1998 death of former head of state Gen.Sani Abacha and his succession by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar has brought a significantrelaxation in the unprecedented repression General Abacha inflicted on the Nigerian people, andGeneral Abubakar appears committed to ensuring the installation of an elected civilian government in May 1999, human rights abuses in the oil producing communities continue and the basic situation in the delta remains unchanged.

This 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.