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Since a civilian government was installed in Nigeria in 1999, the cycle of protest and repression that affected the Niger Delta under military rule has eased somewhat. In particular, the virtual military occupation visited on Ogoniland, in Rivers State, as a result of the protests led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has been ended. Yet in November 1999, the Nigerian army destroyed the town of Odi in Bayelsa State, killing hundreds of people, a more serious single incident than any in the delta under the military regime. Army, navy, and paramilitary Mobile Police personnel are still widely deployed across the delta, mostly at oil facilities: as of May 2002, some twenty-three Shell facilities out of ninety (including gas plants and oil export terminals) had an armed security presence.2 Security force abuses against civilians continue across the delta on a more-or-less routine basis-as they do elsewhere in Nigeria-and summary executions are commonplace.3 In addition, the profound discontent felt by many in the "oil producing communities" that they do not benefit from oil production, and the realization that it is only by closing down production that attention has been brought to their grievances, leads to repeated occupations of oil facilities, hostage-taking, seizure of property, and other attempts to disrupt the flow of oil. The five major oil companies operating joint ventures with the Nigerian government (Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, TotalFinaElf, and Agip) and the many oil service companies are targeted for such protests both in their own right, and because they are seen in many respects as representatives of the Nigerian federal government in the areas where they operate.4

The occupation of oil facilities or the seizure of boats and other equipment belonging to oil companies and their contractors is a regular occurrence in the delta. Sometimes these are carried out by groups of semi-criminal militants acting on their own account and may involve outsider "mercenaries" brought in by prominent politicians or former military officers seeking direct profit from the oil industry ("hostage-taking" in particular can be very profitable).5 In other cases, these occupations are carried out by "youth"6 or others acting to carry out a community decision to bring pressure to bear on the oil companies to provide benefits to the community as a whole; or by people taking part in a wider political protest affecting the whole delta (for example, "Operation Climate Change" called by the Ijaw Youth Council in early 1999). Oil company employees, especially expatriates, involved are rarely hurt; where there are injuries, it is usually in circumstances where they are from the delta themselves and are effectively caught up in an active intercommunal conflict. Nevertheless, there are serious security issues for the oil companies involved who must be concerned to safeguard their staff, especially given the large number of small arms circulating in the delta. Whatever the reasons for hostage-taking, abducting employees of an oil company is a criminal activity that should be investigated so that appropriate action can be taken to prosecute the offenders in accordance with Nigerian law.

Most of the occupations or other disruptions to production are ended peacefully by negotiation between oil companies and protesters. However, in some cases security force action leads to deaths and injuries among the protesters-of whom some are armed but many are not-and among others targeted for collective punishment. Heavy-handed responses by the security forces contribute to a generally repressive atmosphere in which people become afraid to protest peacefully.

Among the more prominent recent incidents reported in the international media are the occupation of the large ChevronTexaco (previously Chevron) terminal at Escravos, on the Atlantic coast in Delta State by several hundred Itsekiri women from the nearby Igborodo community from July 8 to 18, 2002. Initially, more than 700 workers at the terminal were prevented from leaving by the women, who occupied the heliport and dock area; after five days, 300 of the oil workers were allowed to leave. About one hundred police and soldiers were sent to the terminal, but did not harm the women. The siege was eventually ended when ChevronTexaco acceded to some of the women's demands, including to hire local "youth," build schools, and provide electricity, water and other facilities. ChevronTexaco exports around 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil through the terminal. In similar fashion, Ijaw women from Delta State then occupied four ChevronTexaco flowstations for several days, making similar demands and closing down 110,000 bpd of production. Ijaws and Itsekiris have been in conflict in the area for some years, and one of the Itsekiri demands in relation to the Escravos occupation was that the state government intervene in their dispute with the Ijaws. ChevronTexaco was forced to declare force majeure on its contracts from July 14 to 31, partly as a result of the various occupations.7 This is only one of many such confrontations. In April 2002, for example, in another incident involving ChevronTexaco, a group of about twenty unarmed youths took over an off-shore oil platform, demanding that they be given jobs, and held eighty-eight staff from the company and subcontractors for several days, at the end of which they were released unharmed.8 In August 2001, in a case involving Shell's Nigerian operations, a group of militant youths occupied a drilling rig operating off Nigeria's Atlantic coast, preventing almost one hundred employees of Shell and various service companies from leaving for a couple of days. No one was injured (Shell did not state whether the militants were armed, though commented that "there is no sense of danger") and community elders were called in to negotiate the release of the oil company staff and the departure of the youths.9 In August 2002, several hundred women from the Itsekiri, Ilaje, and Ijaw ethnic groups protested peacefully outside the Warri, Delta State, premises of Shell and ChevronTexaco. Their protest was broken up with some violence by soldiers from the 7th amphibious battalion based in Warri: the organizers claimed that five women were shot and others went missing (independent eyewitnesses confirmed to Human Rights Watch that at least one woman was shot and badly wounded), and others were badly beaten. The soldiers also fired in the air and used teargas at close quarters. Some of those injured were treated in the Shell medical facilities.10

The presence of the oil companies in the Niger Delta exacerbates communal tensions of the type seen across Nigeria. The weakness of conflict resolution structures-whether the courts, responsible elected and appointed state officials, or the law enforcement agencies-means that many disputes in Nigeria are settled violently that could have been resolved through peaceful means. In Nigeria generally, the level of state corruption means that government positions are highly sought after and that competition for party candidacy or electoral victory often leads to violence. In the Niger Delta, the stakes are higher, even at local government level, because of the amount of money that flows to the delta, both through state structures and directly from the oil companies. Conflict related to local government, state, and federal elections that will take place during 2002-2003 has already been more bloody in the Niger Delta than elsewhere in Nigeria. In July 2002, the holding of primaries for candidates for local government chair by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Nembe, Bayelsa State, led to violence in which dozens of people were reported to have been killed. Nembe has a history of violence centered on the location of the local government authority and also on control of the funds that come from the oil companies that operate in the area (Shell and Agip).11 There have been a number of other election-related incidents across the delta, and several hundred people may have been killed overall.

The incidents described below, directly investigated by Human Rights Watch in March 2002, illustrate the different sorts of problems and human rights abuses affecting communities in the Niger Delta as a result of oil production and the response of the government and oil companies to community discontent. In Liama, the navy undertook a reprisal raid following the seizure of boats and crew belonging to an oil service company, razing homes and killing two people in the village from which the abductors came, as well as killing two people involved in the seizure. In Finima, a substantial compensation payment was made to one faction in a chieftaincy dispute, enabling that faction to bring in the security forces to arrest their opponents in the community. In Gbarantoru, negotiations surrounding the carrying out of new drilling did not include all groups with an interest in the process, increasing the risk of violent confrontation. The conflict between the Bille and the Kalabari people, which probably led to more than one hundred deaths, centered on the "ownership" of oil facilities and the benefits that flow from being designated a "host community" by an oil company.

In January 2002 in Liama, Bayelsa State, navy personnel responded to the seizure by local "youths" of nine oil company employees and four boats by carrying out a reprisal raid on the village from which they came, killing two people and destroying twenty to thirty houses. In addition, the naval patrol that initially responded to the seizures shot and killed two of those involved: Human Rights Watch cannot confirm whether these deaths occurred in an exchange of fire, or whether the navy fired indiscriminately and improperly on those involved.

According to accounts given to Human Rights Watch by residents of Liama and others, the sequence of events appears to be as follows.12 In August 2001, the Liama community learned that the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), had been contracted by Shell's Nigerian subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), to carry out seismic exploration activity near Liama and the neighboring community, Egwema, in the Brass Local Government Area (LGA). The Brass local government authority convened a meeting between representatives of Liama and CNPC, attended by representatives of government security forces; and a similar meeting with representatives of Egwema to discuss plans for this work.13 CNPC personnel also visited Liama to let the community leaders know that they would be doing work in the area, and made promises about how the community could expect to benefit. Further meetings were due to be held at Brass, but representatives of CNPC did not, according to the secretary to the local government, attend these meetings. CNPC nonetheless commenced seismic work late in 2001. When the negotiations produced no result, persons from the neighboring community, Egwema, seized several boats belonging to the company, as a result of which CNPC agreed to some form of benefit, including the employment of Egwema youths. Accordingly, the Liama community resolved to seize company property as a bargaining ploy in a manner similar to the community in Egwema.

Early in the morning of January 21, 2002, following a community meeting at which action was collectively decided upon, fifteen youths from Liama went in their own boat and seized four boats and abducted nine Nigerian employees of CNPC that were working in waters close by the community. As they were in the process of bringing the CNPC personnel and the boats back to the village, a navy patrol of one speedboat fired on the boats, killing two youths and injuring three others. The navy personnel were from the large terminal belonging to the joint venture operated by the Italian oil company Agip, in the port town of Brass, where there is a permanent contingent of up to one hundred naval personnel and paramilitary Mobile Police. No CNPC employees were injured, but one naval officer received a minor injury (a minor surface wound to his face). The navy later asserted in a meeting with the Bayelsa State government and to Shell that this injury was caused by a gunshot and that the abductors had fired first. CNPC representatives reportedly confirmed in the meeting that the youths had not used any violence against the CNPC crew, but said that the youth were armed and fired on the navy when the patrol appeared.14 One of the youth conducting the abduction said to Human Rights Watch that the navy patrol fired first upon arriving at the scene and shot indiscriminately at all of those in the boats, but denied that the youth themselves had been armed. Human Rights Watch was not able to ascertain from independent witnesses whether the youth carried firearms and, if so, what type of weapon or who fired first. According to the U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, law enforcement officials should use force or firearms only if other means would be ineffective, and should in any event minimize damage and injury and respect and preserve human life.

The navy pursued the youth and the CNPC boats to Liama village and fired onshore into the village with automatic weapons, but did not land. One boat, which was slower than the others because it had only one and not two outboard engines, was recaptured, and it was in this boat that two of the youth were killed. The others reached the village.

Shortly after the abductions, the head of the State Security Service (SSS) in Brass alerted the secretary of the Brass LGA about the situation, and asked him to intervene. The secretary immediately went to the navy base and advised the commanding officer, known as "Oscar One," that the navy should take no further action until he had attempted to secure the release of the crew members and boats. After meeting with the navy, the secretary then went to Liama, during the day on January 21, and the CNPC crew members were released unharmed into his custody; community leaders claimed to Human Rights Watch that their early release had always been intended.

Once the crew members were released, the secretary took them to the naval base. He returned to Liama on January 22, to collect the boats, release of which he had also secured. While he was in the village, he heard shooting and, at some personal risk, came out onto the waterway to find the navy shooting indiscriminately from their boats onshore into the village. The secretary persuaded the navy to leave, and then collected the boats to take to Brass; he was sent back later in the day to collect equipment that had been in the boats, and guns which the navy claimed the youth had been using. The secretary collected several "daneguns" (hunting rifles), which community leaders said were the only firearms in the village, and also told the community leaders that the navy officer wished to see them. Five representatives-Chief Joseph Iba and Chief L.S. Oyafiakumo, Elder Atimidigi Dokubo, François Benjamin, and Moses Brown-went to the navy base at the Agip terminal, and were detained. All were later transferred to the prison at Ahoada, and charged in the magistrates' court with armed robbery.15 They were still held in Ahoada as of March 16, 2002; one of them is over eighty years old. At the time of going to press, Human Rights Watch had not been able to ascertain what had happened to them.

On January 24, after the release of the CNPC personnel and boats, the navy came to Liama once again, in four boats. This time they landed, firing indiscriminately with automatic weapons. One person was killed on the shore by the river, and four others were seriously injured, of whom one later died of his wounds.16 Most of the community members had fled into the bush over the previous days, anticipating trouble, and so were not present during this attack. A number of naval personnel entered the community, destroying from twenty to thirty buildings, most of them homes, but also a small pharmacy, and substantial other property, including boats, outboard engines, fishing nets, and other valuables.

The Bayelsa State government called CNPC and SPDC to meetings in Yenagoa, the state capital, shortly after this incident occurred. The head of the naval unit based at the Agip terminal was also summoned. At the meeting, Shell reportedly agreed to provide development assistance for Liama, including building a primary school.17

In a meeting with Human Rights Watch at SPDC's headquarters in Lagos, in March 2002, Shell public relations staff based there stated that they were not aware of this incident, though the company subsequently conducted an investigation and responded to Human Rights Watch's questions. In response to queries as to what steps the company had taken in interactions with the navy to ensure the incident was investigated and appropriate action taken against the naval personnel responsible, SPDC noted that: "As far as can be ascertained, the Navy regards patrols of the waterways as a legitimate activity under the instruction of the Federal authorities. SPDC does not have a supervisory role over government security agencies. However, where SPDC is able to, our operating principles are shared with such agencies."18 Asked whether it or CNPC had supplied relief materials to Liama or urged the navy to do so, SPDC replied: "CNPC as a corporate organization is responsible for maintaining cordial relations with its host communities and we understand that they are constantly in dialogue with the communities over welfare and employment issues. On the particular case of the Liama issue, the Bayelsa State Government has stepped into the security situation in the area, and is asking the communities to eschew criminality."19

It is not clear whether the first use of firearms by the navy against the abductors of the CNPC employees and boats was justified or not, though there is at least an allegation that it was indiscriminate and inappropriate, which should be investigated by the proper authorities. It is possible that the security response by the navy may have put the CNPC crew members at greater risk, by the exchange of live fire at the time the boats were being seized. In addition, the destruction of property and killing of civilians in the Liama community itself was effectively a reprisal raid for the abductions and possibly for the minor injury to a naval officer, and was completely unjustified. Shell's Lagos headquarters' lack of knowledge about the incident, which was reported in the Nigerian media, also suggests that its own oversight mechanisms should be strengthened so that it can adequately implement its own security policies and intervene with Nigerian government authorities in an effort to prevent such abuses, and ensure that they are properly investigated and those responsible brought to account. Human Rights Watch did not speak to CNPC directly about this incident; however, Shell accepts responsibility for ensuring that its subcontractors follow its own business principles and security rules.20


    Finima is a sizable village in Bonny LGA, on the Atlantic coast of Rivers State, close by the huge Nigerian Liquid Natural Gas (NLNG) terminal, and the terminals of several oil companies, including ExxonMobil (trading in Nigeria as Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU), and still known as Mobil, despite the global merger with Exxon). The village used to be on the site of what is now the NLNG terminal, and was relocated more than a decade ago. The surrounding area is dominated by construction related to the oil industry, which has brought in large numbers of migrant workers, both Nigerians and expatriates; though an island at the edge of the mangrove forest, motor vehicles are plentiful and traffic to and from the different oil facilities is heavy.

    There has been a dispute in Finima for some decades now over who should hold the traditional leadership, or paramount chieftaincy, of the community.21 As in many other communities in the Niger Delta area, the value of recognition as chief lies not only in the prestige that goes with that title, but also in the opportunities it gives for profiting in one way or another from the oil industry because the chief is often the principal negotiator between the companies and community. The dispute in Finima is between I.A. Idamiebi-Brown, a lawyer and former attorney general of Rivers State installed as paramount chief in 1970, and Dr. Yibo Buowari Brown, put forward as a challenger for the title by a group of people disgruntled with Idamiebi-Brown's tenure.22 The matter has been extensively litigated in the High Court, and a challenge to Chief Idamiebi-Brown's title by Dr. Yibo Brown was eventually withdrawn after a 1996 ruling.23 The conflict between the two had worsened from 1992: there was violent conflict between the supporters of the two claimants in the community, and as a result for some years the chief's palace in Finima was closed. Dr. Yibo Brown, who reportedly engaged the support of members of the security forces (navy and Mobile Police) to arrest those opposed to his cause, was eventually driven out, and has for some years now been unable to visit the community with any ease. Chief Idamiebi-Brown is recognized as chief by a majority of the elders of the community, and appears to have the support of most of those living in Finima,24 though his position is not wholly uncontroversial. Certainly, supporters of Idamiebi-Brown also used violence during the conflict of the mid-1990s. While he lives in Port Harcourt, he visits Finima regularly.

    In common with other "host communities" in the Niger Delta, many of those who live in Finima believe that they have not benefited sufficiently from the oil production activities that take place on their land. But the case of Finima is particularly pronounced, both because it is one of the few villages that have actually been forced to relocate by oil development and because of the sheer scale of oil industry activity in the area. In June 2001, youth from Finima occupied Mobil's Bonny River Terminal (BRT), demanding that greater benefit come to the community from Mobil's operations there, and asserting that the original compensation paid for the relocation of the village was both inadequate and paid to the wrong people (that is, to members of the faction opposed to Idamiebi-Brown).25 The occupation lasted three days, and, according to Mobil, several Mobil employees were "badly beaten, property was vandalized, and equipment destroyed." As a result of the occupation, Mobil's production was reduced by over 650,000 bpd and the company was forced to declare force majeure on its contracts.26 The occupation was ended in part through the intervention of Chief Idamiebi-Brown, who came to the terminal at the invitation of Mobil and the Rivers State government and negotiated with the youth leaders occupying the premises. So far as Human Rights Watch is aware, there were no arrests or prosecutions of any of those involved in the occupation of the terminal.

    Following this occupation, Mobil entered into negotiations for benefits to be paid to the Finima community. Initially, the company wished Chief Idamiebi-Brown and Dr. Yibo Brown to sign jointly for any money paid over to the community. Chief Idamiebi-Brown, however, stated, following a decision made in consultation with the elders of the community, that he would not sign with Dr. Yibo Brown, whom he did not recognize and did not believe had any standing to accept money on behalf of Finima. He suggested that the money be paid into an escrow account pending a resolution of the dispute. According to Idamiebi-Brown, a draft agreement promised to him for perusal was never supplied by Mobil. On January 23, 2002, the general counsel for Mobil wrote to Idamiebi-Brown informing him that the company had paid _393 million-more than U.S.$3 million-into "an account in the name of the Brown family," under a lease agreement signed by "Chief Yibo Brown, Elder Boma Brown and others ... on behalf of the Brown house."27 In the letter, Mobil stated that the company had "obtained commitment that the funds shall not be disbursed until the community has met and decided how to apply the funds."28 Mobil also stated to Human Rights Watch that the _393 million was paid to the Brown family, not only to Dr. Yibo Brown, and that the company had "insisted that three members of the family sign the agreement as the representatives of each part of the family.... It is our understanding that several meetings have taken place involving the different elements of the Brown family and other families in Finima in order to determine how the funds will be allocated."29 According to Chief Idamiebi-Brown, the elder who signed for his side of the family was never authorized to do so by him as chief and the other elders-in-council, as required by the governing system in Finima.30 Whatever the case, it seems that in practice Mobil did not take sufficient measures to ensure that the funds paid over could not be misused. Given the history of conflict in the community, Human Rights Watch believes that the company's actions created a significant risk of heightening tensions between the disputing parties-as indeed has happened.

    According to witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch, on or around the first weekend in March 2002, approximately twenty members of the Mobile Police-a notoriously brutal paramilitary riot unit within the Nigeria Police Force-came to Finima and broke into the town hall and the offices there of the youth congress and local councilor, with the assistance of supporters of Yibo Brown, who brought mattresses for them to sleep on.31 The Mobile Police have been camped out there ever since, and have been generally intimidating community members, harassing women, and extorting money from boat drivers and others. Several people have been severely flogged. As one woman from the village said to Human Rights Watch: "Nobody knows why the MoPo are here. But when they come you are afraid." On March 16, the Mobile Police accompanied Yibo Brown as he held a meeting in the community to discuss the money given by Mobil; community members asserted to Human Rights Watch that Yibo Brown would not have been able to hold such a meeting without such protection. It appears from these accounts that the Mobile Police had been effectively "hired" by Yibo Brown to advance his cause in the village and to intimidate members of the Idamiebi-Brown faction.

In addition, the Mobile Police arrested a number of people in Finima at around the same time and over subsequent weeks. According to the divisional crime officer (DCO) at Bonny police station, responsible for the Finima area, those arrested were gang members and were picked up in connection with a fight that had taken place between two youth gangs in February, in which one youth was murdered. The DCO claimed that the arrests had followed investigation by the regular police in the normal way-"no innocent person can be arrested"-and the Mobile Police had been present at the arrests only to provide additional security and were otherwise present in Finima "to protect life and property."32 However, according to family members present during the arrests, the Mobile Police came alone. Those arrested were pointed out to the Mobile Police by a young man who had been a leader of the youth who occupied the Mobil BRT and is now known to associate with supporters of Dr. Yibo Brown. Those arrested had, according to other community members, nothing to do with the gangs or the fight, and seem to have been targeted rather because they are associated with the group in Finima opposed to the chieftaincy claims of Yibo Brown. One of them is an elder in the community (that is, a person with status as the head of a group of families or "house" and member of the chief's cabinet). Several had regular jobs with contractors to the oil industry, which they lost as a result of the arrests.33 On March 17, 2002, two people arrested on March 15 were still held in Bonny police station. The blackboard in the reception area of the station recording the names of those in detention did not record their names. Human Rights Watch requested but was not allowed to visit the detainees.

In April and May 2002, the ordinary police at Bonny police station also arrested a number of other people associated with the Yibo Brown faction in the town following community complaints that they had been extorting money from motorbike taxi ("okada") drivers and others and had assaulted a number of people. By contrast with those arrested by the Mobile Police, all were released after one week.34 They have returned to Finima and have resumed their activities. The Mobile Police remained in Finima Town as of early October 2002, and were continuing to harass local people, extorting money and also handing out "instant justice" in the form of fines and beatings when alleged criminal suspects were brought to them. Several dozen youths had fled the town for fear of arrest and harassment, many losing their jobs; some identified with the Idamiebi-Brown faction had also been arrested in Port Harcourt.

    Mobile Police are permanently stationed by the government at Mobil's BRT, as at many other oil facilities in the delta regarded by the Nigerian government as of national importance. In accordance with the usual procedure, Mobil pays for the upkeep of these police. Witnesses said to Human Rights Watch that some members of the Mobile Police based at the town hall in Finima-a short distance from the BRT-had occasionally been transported by a Mobil vehicle: for example, it was alleged that extra police had come from the terminal in a Mobil bus to Finima town for the meeting of March 16. The head of security at Mobil's BRT stated to Human Rights Watch that the Mobile Police in Finima town had nothing to do with Mobil. Human Rights Watch unsuccessfully sought a meeting with Mobil's public affairs representatives in Lagos to discuss these matters. However, responding to a letter from Human Rights Watch, Mobil's General Manager, External Affairs wrote: "I can state categorically that Mobil was neither informed nor consulted about the plan to bring in the Mobile Police team who were based at the town hall.... Mobil is neither contributing to their upkeep nor providing any other assistance to this group, nor are we in any position to closely monitor any arrests that they might make during their stay."35 The second-in-command of the Mobile Police posted to Finima would not make any comment to Human Rights Watch about the role of the Mobile Police in the town when approached in person, referring all queries to the Rivers State commissioner of police. Human Rights Watch unsuccessfully attempted to meet with the commissioner in Port Harcourt, and wrote to him in April 2002 concerning the situation in Finima (and other matters), but received no reply.

    The situation in Finima illustrates the problems caused by the manner in which the oil companies relate to the communities where they work. ExxonMobil is following what appears to be a common industry practice in Nigeria. It is standard practice for companies to negotiate for large sums of cash to be paid to community representatives on the understanding that those representatives are accountable to their constituency and will spend the money responsibly and transparently for the benefit of the whole community.36 However, taking on trust assurances that individuals are genuinely representative can directly contribute to local conflict and resultant human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch takes no view as to who is the lawful chief in Finima, but we are concerned that very substantial sums of money are handed over to local figures without adequate precautions being taken to ensure that the people it is given to are accountable and representative and that structures are in place to minimize its misuse. In particular, we believe that, because of the complex relationships of dependency on and maintenance of the security forces (explained in more detail below), oil companies in Nigeria have a responsibility to monitor security force activity in the communities where they operate-and not only at their own facilities-in order to avoid complicity in human rights abuses. Where security forces engage in unlawful activities, such as the excessive use of force or arbitrary detention, oil companies should bring such matters to the attention of the appropriate authorities. Such actions would be particularly important in Finima since it is a community with close links to Mobil's terminal, and there are credible allegations of abuse there by the Mobile Police.

Gbarantoru, in the Gbaran oil field near Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, is one of the communities still suffering environmental damage caused by a road built in the early 1990s to Shell's facilities in the area. The Gbaran oil field is in a seasonally flooded freshwater swamp area, but the causeway for the road initially had no passages for water to pass underneath as the level rises and falls, blocking the drainage channel. Although, following protests from community members and environmental groups, culverts were eventually constructed, they were poorly designed, and the drainage of the area is still disturbed. Trees and other vegetation over a wide area have died from waterlogging, and seasonal fishing grounds have been destroyed, causing substantial economic damage to those whose land was affected.37 Although compensation has been paid to some in the community, since Human Rights Watch reported on this situation in its 1999 report The Price of Oil, there is still no remediation of the damage done. According to SPDC, "while the road is beneficial, post construction damages are being addressed. Affected people are being compensated and remediation efforts are taking place. A number of communities ... have accepted the negotiated compensation and the matter had been closed out. However, negotiations with some other groups, due to their higher expectations, have been deadlocked and have remained so over the years. SPDC is still making efforts to ensure that the matter is resolved."38

SPDC has carried out an environmental impact assessment for the drilling of two new wells near Gbarantoru, which will raise production in the Gbaran field from 17,000 bpd to 40,000 bpd.39 Local people with knowledge of environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures are concerned that the EIA was not carried out in a properly consultative way, according to new procedures established by SPDC. In particular, they said that no copy of the EIA was on display in Yenagoa, the state capital of Bayelsa State, or at Okolobiri, headquarters of the local government area. In addition, they stated to Human Rights Watch that they believe that the EIA does not accurately reflect the risks created by the new drilling, that it excluded from consideration one community (Tombia) that might be affected, and that it does not consider the potential social and health impacts.40

In early 2002, according to members of the community, a community liaison officer from SPDC and other Shell staff held at least two meetings with the chief of the community, BNS Weke. They said these meetings were held after dark, and the chief excluded other members of his cabinet who are not his immediate family from these discussions, including the deputy chief.41 The landowners of the area where the rig will be located had also not been involved in these meetings. Responding to questions from Human Rights Watch, SPDC stated that two meetings had been held, of which one took place in the evening because people from the community were not available during the day, and the other took place at 2 pm, and that "issues of concern to the entire community were discussed."42

At around the same time, community members told Human Rights Watch, a gang of thirty or so young men in the town known to be involved in criminal activities acquired firearms (locally made pistols) that they had not previously had. They are associated with the chief, and have been intimidating other people, including by firing shots into the air at night. On March 2, these youths prevented from going ahead a meeting to discuss environmental issues organized by the NGO Environmental Rights Action, with speakers from Benin City and Lagos as well as Port Harcourt scheduled to attend. The chief had been informed of the meeting, in accordance with the usual protocol, a few days in advance; he held a meeting with the youths the day before.

Two days after this meeting was to have been held, on March 4, there was a meeting at the chief's compound in the village. One member of the chief's council was called to the meeting and then told that he was not welcome, because he had not supported the chief's position that the Shell rig should come. He told Human Rights Watch:

Around 8 or 9 in the night someone came to my house and called me to a meeting of the chief's council, saying that there were strangers who had come to the community. I went there and saw the boys [the youths who had been causing trouble] and others from the chief's council, and two others who were not from the council. I was told they were from Shell. I was asking the chief why the other council members were not there-the class who were there were only those who are supporting the chief. The youths started discussing with Shell, promising the Shell people that if they go to Port Harcourt they will escort the Shell rig.... Finally, the chief himself told the Shell people, "no problem, these boys will escort the rig and guide everything." But is that the Gbarantoru chief's duty, to give Shell security? The Shell people started promising money if the youth were escorting the rig, no problem. I was about to tell the chief that what you are doing is not the will of the Gbarantoru community, but I was told to leave.... The following day the boy who came to call me came back and said he was beaten for trying to call me to the meeting. Those in charge of the meeting don't stay here [in Gbarantoru]; they stay in Yenagoa [the capital of Bayelsa State] where they have contact with Shell. No landlords [of the drilling site] were represented at the meeting.43

The chief's position is that the rig should come to the community; others are not opposed, but believe that all those affected should be consulted, and in particular that the damage done by the road should be remediated before new negotiations go ahead. The chief has reportedly told the youth gang on other occasions that they will be paid if they assist in ensuring that the drilling rig can operate freely.44

In relation to the use of local youth as security guards, SPDC stated to Human Rights Watch that: "Employment of untrained labour (locals) on a rig is discouraged by SPDC for safety reasons. However, where it becomes necessary for the rig contractor to employ locals in any capacity, the prevailing daily wage obtainable in the locality is applied. Should security risk become a problem, the local police force will be contacted."45 Human Rights Watch believes that if such employment is considered, it should include an assessment of the potential risks involved in hiring any particular group when there is a possibility that they have engaged in the intimidation of local residents.

By July 2002, drilling had not yet started in Gbarantoru, though it had gone ahead in the nearby village of Opolo (on the outskirts of Yenagoa). According to community residents, the youths who had been causing trouble kept people in Gbarantoru awake for several nights in early July by shooting. On Sunday July 21, the youths badly beat and machete'd three people, all of whom were hospitalized, as well as firing generally into the air to intimidate people. Those injured were: Loveday Oyadongha, the Community Development Committee secretary, who signed letters stating the landlord families' position and rejecting Shell's proposed memorandum of understanding; Ebidou Feinfa, also a critic of SPDC in the community; and Silikibina Fiwaripamogha, who tried to prevent the attack on Feinfa. Oyadongha was the most seriously injured, spending a week in hospital after being beaten with sticks and broken bottles, and threatened with being shot dead before going into a coma from loss of blood; Feinfa and Fiwaripamogha were also badly assaulted with broken bottles and machetes. The youths also vandalized a car belonging to Bubaraye Dakolo, an engineer and spokesperson for one of the landlord families affected by the drilling, when he tried to help take Oyadongha to hospital, and shot at him (though they missed). All these cases were reported to the police, who shortly after arrested Chief Weke and held him in custody for three days. He was then released on police bail without being charged. After his release, seven of the youth gang carrying out the attacks were arrested. They were charged in the magistrates' court with relatively minor offenses, such as conduct likely to breach the peace and ordinary assault, and released on bail.46

The situation in Gbarantoru is typical of many communities across the oil producing areas, where arranging for oil drilling and other projects invariably involve the oil companies in complex local politics.47 Without government institutions or a legal system that can ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations, there accrues to oil companies a greater responsibility to ensure that their actions do not foster local conflict and the abuse of human rights. In this case, it appears that Shell has not taken sufficient steps to fulfill this responsibility.

Kalabari/Bille Conflict

    A conflict that took place in late 2000 and early 2001 in the Cawthorne Channel area, in the mangrove forest in Rivers State, where SPDC has several flow stations, illustrates the way in which the presence of oil operations in the delta generates conflict among those who live there, and the complexity of such conflicts. All the oil companies operating in the delta use the concept of "host community" in making payments to those who own land or fishing grounds where oil facilities will be located, or where drilling and other activities will take place (many of these payments are by custom and practice and are in addition to payments made by law to the government); in deciding where they will locate their development projects; or in hiring casual labor to work on temporary projects. Being designated a "host community" thus brings many benefits to the village concerned; and especially to those who directly collect money from the oil companies for one purpose or another.

The conflict pitted the Bille people against their Kalabari neighbors, in particular two villages known as Ke and Elem-Krakrama that are regarded as affiliated with the Kalabaris. All of the communities involved are members of the large Ijaw ethnic group that dominates the riverine areas of the Niger Delta, but belong to different clans. Central to the conflict was a dispute over "ownership" of two Shell flow stations in the Cawthorne Channel, known by SPDC as Krakama (Bille) and Awoba flowstations, and payment of royalties for other Shell and LNG facilities passing through the area. Since SPDC found oil in the area in the 1950s, Bille, Ke, and Krakrama have contested their rights to claim "ownership" of the land where the two flowstations are situated, petitioning Shell for name changes and going to court for boundaries to be determined.48 The flow stations have also been occupied at different times by youth from either side, and SPDC staff and others taken hostage, in order to highlight demands for "ownership" to be acknowledged and attendant benefits handed out. SPDC states that no royalties are paid to the communities, since such payments are made to the federal government; however, Shell has given out various payments and development projects both to Bille and to Ke and other Kalabari communities, including scholarships, building projects, donating boats, generators, diesel, and so on.49

The only thing on which both sides in the fighting that broke out in late 2000 are agreed is that it was the dispute over the rights to claim "ownership" of the oil and, since the flowstations are operated by Shell, SPDC's failure to recognize the rights of whichever side is speaking, that was at the root of the problem:

"We have become aware that it is what you own that ends up killing you. Between ourselves and the Bille people there has been friendship for many years. When there is a celebration in Bille we go there; when there is a death we go there to mourn. But then we come to the point where Shell brought activities to our area.... The only reason that Bille attacked us and burnt our homes and killed people is because of this claim over the oil location that Ke knows is ours." Spokesperson for Ke elders (March 21, 2002)
"All these problems started from the disagreement which Shell put into our middle." Spokesperson for Bille elders (March 22, 2002)
"Everything lies on Shell because they know the rightful owner. If Shell can give the flowstation back to the rightful owners then there will be no problem." Youth leader from Ke (March 21, 2002)
"The solution to conflict is that there should not be double standards by Shell. What belongs to somebody should be given to him. People impacted by a project should benefit." Youth leader from Bille (March 22, 2002)

As elsewhere in the delta, the government's failure to adjudicate boundary disputes and to ensure that oil wealth is equitably shared has left the oil companies as the effective arbiters of "ownership" claims, a role for which they are not well suited.

According to a police report submitted to a subsequent state government inquiry and accounts given to Human Rights Watch, the immediate cause of the conflict was the apprehension of a man from Bille on December 29, 2000, by people from the village of Elem-Krakrama. The man was wanted for murder in connection with an attack on Elem-Krakrama in 1998, which followed similar clashes between members of the same communities.50 According to the submission from the Bille kingdom to the commission of inquiry, the man was assaulted and paraded around several villages.51 The man was ultimately taken to the Buguma police station and handed over to the police.52 Over the following days, boats and fishing settlements belonging to Bille, Ke and Krakrama were attacked, and properties destroyed.53 The waterways were made impassable, blocked by armed youths from both communities, some reportedly wearing military uniform. A number of people were seized on both sides; some were later handed over to the police; others escaped or were released; an unknown number were killed, or are missing and presumed dead. On January 14, 2001, the town of Ke was sacked by youth believed to come from Bille. Several substantial properties in the town were destroyed, some by petrol bombs and at least one by dynamite. A large number of people were killed, including old people and children trapped in the burning houses. Each side claimed to Human Rights Watch that hundreds of people were killed and many more injured in the conflict overall-though these figures are by now difficult to verify and are likely to be an exaggeration, it is probable that dozens of lives were lost. In its submission to a government commission of inquiry, the Bille kingdom listed ten people known to have been killed, or kidnapped and believed dead.54

After the first attack on several Kalabari villages, on December 30, 2000, representatives from the Kalabari side went to the local government authority in Degema, to the commissioner of police in Port Harcourt, and to the governor of Rivers State. The divisional police officer in Degema sent police to visit Ke, but when Ke was attacked on January 14, the policeman in the town simply ran away with everyone else, being unable to help in any way. The governor promised to send the navy to the area to pre-empt further conflict. Representatives of the Bille community also petitioned the police several times.55

Only after the January 14 incident in which Ke was sacked was the navy finally deployed. Naval posts were established at both Ke and Bille in March, and naval boats patrolled the waterways. People from both Ke and Bille reported to Human Rights Watch in early 2002 that the navy was doing a good job keeping the peace and was not causing problems or harassing those who were going about their daily business. As elsewhere in Nigeria, in some cases the armed forces can fulfill the difficult and essential task of acting as an internal peacekeeper with credit. Nonetheless, in February 2002 there was a clash between two groups of youth that led to loss of life, making some people afraid to go to their usual fishing grounds.

Although the question of SPDC's flow stations and who should benefit from them was central to this conflict, Shell had no direct involvement in it - beyond assisting on some occasions to transport people to safety and providing relief materials through the Nigerian Red Cross. Nonetheless, in a broader sense, the manner in which Shell-and the other oil companies-relate to the communities in which they operate is at the root of the conflicts. In Kalabari/Bille, one of the main grievances with Shell from the Ke perspective was the reported award of a surveillance contract by SPDC to youth from Bille-interpreted in Ke as Shell arming the Bille youth to fight them. A youth leader from Bille explained to Human Rights Watch what had happened:

I was secretary of the Bille youth federation. It is not true that the surveillance contract was given to Bille to buy arms. When SPDC was very insensitive to Bille youth need for employment, the youth seized SPDC boats and closed down Awoba and Krakama flow stations for three months, in 1999.... The production manager from Shell then called the youths and said since he could not employ all of us they would give a surveillance contract - to the whole community, not to individuals, so all could benefit. The contract was used to empower the youths, elders, chiefs, etc., because no person owns those oil fields, not even the paramount chief. The duties for the surveillance contract were to use speedboats to ensure security throughout the oil fields and see there was no vandalization. SPDC has paid a stipend of _168,000 [U.S.$1,290] each month since seven months ago [August 2001] to each company in Bille - there are ten companies in the community. Each compound [group of families tracing their ancestry to one founder member] forms a security company registered with corporate affairs [a government agency] and with SPDC. Each compound then does a roster for who is to benefit. _5,000 [$38] is paid monthly to chiefs, _2,500 to men [$19], and _2,000 [$15] to women, and it rotates every month - not everyone gets paid every month. Each company sends five staff that go daily to the field - the people working are paid by the supervisor for the company. If those people find that pipelines have been vandalized, they report to the police at the oil facility or to SPDC. We put them on oath that they will not vandalize any facility themselves. They do not carry arms. SPDC gives the company a "certificate of work done."
When Bille people first knew that money was coming for the surveillance contract, a group of boys tried to monopolize it, like they did in Nembe. Shell paid them for about five months, I don't know how much. These youth were trying to bribe the police to arrest other people, but the community resisted and said the money should go to all. So the security companies were formed and those youth were removed. The new system is better because all benefit, even those smaller villages affiliated to Bille.56

Shell confirmed to Human Rights Watch that SPDC engaged the Bille community on "permanent surveillance contract," paying _4.4 million [U.S.$34,000] over the one-year period to December 2001.57 SPDC's award of surveillance contracts at its facilities in Nembe, in Bayelsa State, resulted in a series of conflicts between different groups of youth who fought each other for the right to fulfill the contract.58 Human Rights Watch believes that SPDC did not apply sufficient due diligence to determine the impact of providing material support to only one group for surveillance.

From the Bille side, the perception was that the Rivers State government - rather than Shell - was to blame for arming youth: "The Kalabari chapter of the IYC ... was sponsored by Government to maintain surveillance over oil installations in Kalabari territory."59 This is a serious allegation which also needs investigation and appropriate action by the Rivers State and federal governments.

The Rivers State government appointed a commission of inquiry into the Bille/Kalabari conflict on January 8, 2001 (before the sacking of Ke, though it included this incident in its mandate). The commission heard extensive submissions from both sides, focusing on determining the boundaries of community and the ownership of the Awoba and Krakama flowstations. Like many other similar investigations in Nigeria the commission's report has not been published, nor has the Rivers State government made any public announcements about action that will be taken to avoid the conflict recurring in future. Meantime, most of those who were involved in the conflict remain free and have faced no attempt to bring them to account. Only eight people were handed over to police custody during the fighting, and none were arrested by police themselves.60

In the Ke/Bille conflict as in so many similar intercommunal conflicts across Nigeria, the government has failed to fulfill its responsibilities-not only to use the oil money for the benefit of the people, but more particularly to prevent or mitigate conflict and to end the impunity that allows a cycle of violence to continue throughout the delta. The concept of "host community" is also problematic, by placing a price on being designated the village that is "host" to an oil company. There is a case that those people who are most likely to suffer damage because of oil spills and other problems caused by oil exploration and production should receive additional benefits from the oil, but the current system both fails to ensure a fair distribution of benefits, and promotes conflict. It would be difficult for the oil companies to end this concept unilaterally-there would be widespread discontent from those who benefit from the current system-but clearly the oil companies generally need to move away from this system to one in which the entire Niger Delta equitably benefits. The oil, after all, is not directly under the flowstations that pump it out of the ground but spread out over a wide area.61


    It was the crisis in Ogoniland that first brought international attention to the Niger Delta, through the mobilization of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) that led to the closure of Shell's production in Ogoniland in 1993 (at that time 3 percent of its total production in Nigeria) and ultimately to the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP activists in 1995.62 In response to MOSOP's protests, the government created a special security force, the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Ogonis during the period it occupied Ogoniland, from 1993 to 1998.

There has been no official inquiry, as called for by MOSOP, Human Rights Watch, and many other groups, into the abuses suffered by the Ogoni people under the military regime of General Abacha, nor have there been prosecutions of members of the security forces alleged to be responsible for those abuses. However, in January 2001, the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, headed by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (commonly referred to as the Oputa Commission), held hearings in Port Harcourt, in which the abuses in Ogoniland were discussed. The Oputa Commission was appointed by President Obasanjo shortly after coming into office in 1999 to investigate "mysterious deaths" and assassinations and other human rights abuses during the period January 1966 to June 1998. More than 10,000 cases from Ogoniland were submitted to the commission. The commission's report was presented to President Obasanjo in June 2002, but has not yet been made public.

SPDC appeared before the Oputa panel when it sat in Port Harcourt, and again at further hearings in Abuja in July 2001. SPDC Managing Director Ron van den Berg deplored abuses in Ogoniland under the military government, and stated that Shell sought lasting peace and reconciliation with the Ogoni people and that "SPDC is more concerned about protecting the environment than it is with resuming production" in Ogoniland.63 Among other outcomes, Justice Oputa arranged meetings between Shell, MOSOP and the Rivers State and federal governments, in an attempt to reconcile the different parties. These meetings were unsuccessful. SPDC's production in Ogoniland remains closed.

In October 2001, the intergovernmental African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights ruled on a communication submitted to it in 1996 by the Lagos-based Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) and the Center for Economic and Social Rights (New York) concerning the Nigerian government's actions in Ogoniland. The commission found the Nigerian government in violation of the articles of the African Charter concerning the rights to nondiscrimination (art. 2), life (art. 4), property (art. 14), health (art. 16), a family (art. 18(1), and the environment (art. 24), as well as the rights of peoples to "freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources" (art. 21), for the period 1993-96. The commission also noted that, "in the present case, despite its obligation to protect persons against interferences in the enjoyment of their rights, the Government of Nigeria facilitated the destruction of the Ogoniland. Contrary to its Charter obligations and despite such internationally established principles, the Nigerian Government has given the green light to private actors, and the oil Companies in particular, to devastatingly affect the well-being of the Ogonis."64 The commission appealed to the Nigerian government to investigate allegations of human rights abuse, prosecute those responsible, and award compensation to the victims, as well as to ensure environmental clean-up. This decision was made public in May 2002.

Although the human rights situation in Ogoni greatly improved following the death of military head of state General Sani Abacha in 1998 and the transition to civilian rule in 1999, problems still remain. On April 29, 2001, there was a major spill from a Shell "Christmas tree" wellhead in Ogoni, at Yorla - though production in Ogoniland remains closed, the wellheads were never properly secured (the reasons for which are in dispute), and active pipelines still cross the region, transporting oil to Shell's Bonny terminal. Oil sprayed up in a fountain over a very wide area, damaging farmland. The situation was sufficiently bad for SPDC to have to bring in a company from Texas, Boots and Coots, to bring the spill under control and cap the well - an operation that took five days from their arrival on May 2. Shell stated that there was clear evidence that the wellhead had been vandalized. MOSOP disputed this account, pointing to other spills in previous years caused by corrosion. The cleanup operation at the site had not been completed almost one year later when Human Rights Watch visited: according to Shell, clean up was delayed "due to the issue of compensation demand raised by the communities."65 Fires continue to break out at intervals in Ogoniland and elsewhere, due to vandalization, line-tapping in order to steal oil, or theft of the pipes themselves. There is a profitable market in selling used pipes, as well as illegally-tapped crude oil.66 SPDC (and the other oil companies) do not pay compensation where spills are caused by vandalization; however, the damage to the pipes or wellheads is rarely if ever caused by those who suffer the damage from the spill, who can thus face serious economic hardship.

In June 2001, Friday Nwiido, an Ogoni who had been working for Shell as a security guard at the Yorla spill, was fatally shot by police at Baen in Khana local government area in Ogoniland. Nwiido and others were allegedly having a dispute with Shell over providing security during the cleanup of the spill, and had seized a Shell vehicle in order to press their claim. According to reports from MOSOP, Environmental Rights Action, and others, Mobile Police came to the community, shot teargas canisters and demanded that Nwiido be produced, and then shot him as he gave himself up. He was taken to the nearby Shell clinic, but died there.67 SPDC stated that it conducted a full investigation into the death, but "refrained from disclosing our findings, in order not to be seen to influence the police investigation of the matter, which remains outstanding."68

In July 2002, the body of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others hanged in 1995 were exhumed from the cemetery where they were buried by the government, with the assistance of U.S. Physicians for Human Rights, with the aim of giving them a dignified reburial.

No Accountability for Odi
The town of Odi, in Bayelsa State, was destroyed in a military operation in November 1999, in which hundreds of people were likely killed, following the killing of twelve policemen by a gang of youths.69 Following the killings of the policemen, President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to the governor of Bayelsa, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, threatening to declare a state of emergency if those responsible for the murders were not apprehended within two weeks-though the police force is a federally controlled body in Nigeria. Before the deadline could expire, soldiers from the Nigerian army moved into Odi, a community of 15,000 people or more, engaged in an exchange of fire with the young men alleged to be responsible for the deaths of the policemen, and proceeded to raze the town. The troops occupied the town for around ten days, and demolished every single building, barring the bank, the Anglican church and the health clinic, and left graffiti that included ethnic slurs and reflected views that the town and the whole Ijaw ethnic group must be punished for the crimes committed by their sons. There has been no thorough investigation of the destruction of Odi by government authorities, no prosecutions of any soldiers involved in the abuses committed, no government effort to compensate the victims or rebuild the town. The officer in charge of the operation has reportedly been promoted.70

In March 2001, President Obasanjo visited Odi. As commander-in-chief the Nigerian president has ultimate responsibility for decisions to deploy the armed forces, whether internally or externally. Addressing people gathered to meet him, the president said that the soldiers had gone "beyond their brief," but refused to make any commitments to the demands of the community for compensation or make any direct apology for what had happened.71 In an interview on Nigerian state television, President Obasanjo again refused to apologise: "Apologise for what?... I've no apology to make. What do you expect me... Everybody is saying that one of our problems is security. There is a difference between doing what is wrong and doing what you have to do."72 The National Human Rights Commission, a state funded body set up by military decree in 1996, recommended in August 2001 following a visit to Odi that the government reconstruct the town, deploring the failure of the federal government to deliver on a promised 500 housing units.73

In June 2002, the Nigerian magazine Newswatch interviewed General Victor Malu, who was chief of army staff at the time of the destruction of Odi. Responding to questions about the incident, Malu denied all allegations of wrongdoing, stating that the operation was approved by the president and carried out in a professional manner:

I still stand by what I said and I will still repeat it. When I tell the press this, they only choose what they want, not what I say. The operation in Odi was done very professionally.... It was when the troops got to Odi, we witnessed sustained fire from the village. And this is what I say and people don't like. And whether they like it or not, I will say it as far as I have the knowledge of the army, as I know. If we go for internal security operation like the Odi case, you are supposed to perform when you are alive, not as a dead man. If somebody is firing at you, you try to take his head. That is the training I had and that is what I have done in these 33 years. If you fire at me I will fire back and might kill you or other people. The amount of fire that was coming from the village the troops had to return fire. In any case, if you are inside a building firing, we first of all fire to bring  down the building. In the process, we will also take you. That was exactly what happened. They didn't go on a massacre spree.... [A]fter the operation, at the end, I went to the president and briefed him on the operation we conducted.... If the president or minister didn't like it, that is when they would have removed me or order for my court-martial.... This was something that was approved by the president himself. Who am I to leave Abuja and go on operation in Port Harcourt or Bayelsa on my own. What status do I have?74

Despite the assertion by General Malu that those killed in Odi were either firing on the army or caught in crossfire, it is clear from the nature and level of destruction in the town that the soldiers were under orders to raze it to the ground. Human Rights Watch obtained numerous testimonies from individuals indicating indiscriminate firing on and targeting of civilians.

In September 2002, responding to charges made against him in the context of impeachment proceedings brought in the National Assembly, President Obasanjo revisited the Odi incident. The impeachment papers charged that he "authorised the deployment of military troops to massacre innocent citizens" in Odi, "without recourse to the National Assembly contrary to Section 217(2)(c) of the 1999 Constitution which requires firstly for some conditions to be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly for the use of the Military in that regard." Obasanjo responded in writing that "I decided to deploy the Army to assist the Nigerian Police in restoring order and law as not only were property being destroyed on a large scale, civilians and law enforcement agents were also being killed. In the case of Odi, four policemen and a total of seven soldiers deployed there on law enforcement and peacekeeping duties were killed." He also cited constitutional provisions allowing the president as commander-in-chief to determine the operational use of the armed forces, and finished by stating that: "The deployment of soldiers to Odi ... was done within my constitutional powers and in absolute good faith with the aim of containing the worsening situation in the areas in the interest of security and to maintain law and order and save lives and property."75 Once again, he declined to offer any acknowledgment or investigation of the abuses committed in Odi, prosecution of those alleged to be responsible, or compensation for the families of the dead and injured or those who lost property.

In the face of government denial that any abuses took place and failure to undertake any criminal or other investigation with a view to bringing those responsible to account, private individuals have brought civil suits against the government. In February 2000, an application to enforce fundamental rights was lodged in the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, on behalf of the Odi community, seeking _1 billion (U.S.$7.7 million) damages and other relief. The government has failed to file any defense to the application or to appear in court to respond to the various applications made on behalf of the plaintiffs as the case has proceeded.76 In July 2002, nine women from Odi filed a suit in the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, seeking _19 million (U.S.$146,000) compensation from the federal government for rape, torture, and emotional trauma suffered during the invasion. The government filed a defense denying all the allegations.77

2 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

3 In July 2002, national police spokesman Haz Iwendi told reporters that the police had killed 225 suspected armed robbers-and lost twenty-three officers-in the hundred days since March, when they launched an anti-crime drive known as "Operation Fire-For-Fire." More than 800 armed robbery suspects were arrested during the period, he said: thus, more than one suspect was killed for every four arrested. Wisdom Patrick, "Last 100 Days of Fire-for-Fire - Police Lose 23 Men, 10 Weapons to Robbers," Daily Trust (Abuja) July 10, 2002. Human Rights Watch receives frequent accounts of alleged summary executions of criminal suspects carried out at police stations. Vigilante groups also carry out summary executions and other abuses in the name of fighting crime. See "The Bakassi Boys: The Legitimization of Murder and Torture," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, May 2002.

4 See The Price of Oil, pp. 26-32 for discussion of the structure of the joint venture agreements between the oil majors and the Nigerian government. The structure remains broadly the same, although the revenue split has changed somewhat under a new memorandum of understanding signed in 2001.

5 One security consultant working for an oil service company cited to Human Rights Watch as an example the figure of _40 million (U.S.$308,000) paid for the return of an expatriate worker held for eight days. Interview, Port Harcourt, March 20, 2002. Naira amounts have been converted to U.S. dollars in this report at the rate of 130 naira to the dollar, the parallel market rate prevailing in July 2002, and rounded up.

6 The word "youth" in Nigeria is used effectively to describe all young men who have not reached the status of "elder" in their communities: it is a flexible term that includes people up to the age of forty, or sometimes older. Most communities will have an organized youth association encompassing all the young men living in the village, that will be formally consulted when community decisions are made. In addition there may be separate youth organizations acting outside formal community structures.

7 Associated Press stories, July 10 to 29, 2002, and other news media.

8 Dan Isaacs, "Talks to free Nigerian hostages,", April 24, 2002; "ChevronTexaco seeks release of hostages in Nigeria," Reuters, April 24, 2002.

9 "Rig hostages freed in Nigeria,", August 27, 2001; "Shell says 99 oil workers freed in Nigeria," Reuters, August 27, 2001; Alex Duval Smith, "Britons freed from hijacked Nigerian oil rig," Independent (London), August 28, 2001.

10 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Isaac Osuoka of Environmental Rights Action, Port Harcourt, August 16, 2002; Robert Efenakpo, journalist, Warri, August 16, 2002.

11 Kelvin Ebiri, "Dozens killed in Nigerian oil fights," Associated Press, July 23, 2002; "More than 70 feared dead in election violence in Bayelsa State," Guardian (Lagos), July 24, 2002; see also, Dimieari Von Kemedi, Oil on Troubled Waters, Working Paper, Berkeley Workshop on Environmental Politics, University of California, Berkeley, (forthcoming, 2002; see

12 Human Rights Watch interviews with community members in Liama, and with government representatives in Yenagoa and Brass, Bayelsa State, March 14, 15 and 16, 2002.

13 "Minutes of meeting of functionaries of Brass Local Government, Security Agents, Liama Community and Chinese National Petroleum Company, Monday 2nd September, 2001."

14 Human Rights Watch interview with Chief Lionel Jonathan, commissioner for the environment, Bayelsa State, March 16, 2002; "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

15 Armed robbery can only be tried in the High Court; however, Nigerian police persist-despite Supreme Court rulings that it is illegal-in filing "holding (or holden) charges" in the magistrates' court, pending trial in the High Court.

16 Those killed, both on the water and on land over the four days were: Isaiah Fesbo (on water), Diekumo Joel, and Jack Kingsley; the one who died later was Ingbe Berebo (the community members Human Rights Watch spoke to were not clear as to where the others had been injured).

17 Human Rights Watch interview with Chief Lionel Jonathan, commissioner for the environment, Bayelsa State, March 16, 2002.

18 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

19 Ibid.

20 Shell states that "We also expect contractors in their work with Shell companies to conform to the [Statement of General Business] Principles in all aspects of that work." In addition, "Shell companies do not work with suppliers and contractors who are not able to meet with Shell standards." Shell, Profits and Principles-does there have to be a choice? (London and the Hague: Shell International, 1998), pp. 5 and 13.

21 Chiefs are differently chosen in different parts of the delta, sometimes by inheritance, sometimes for a set term, and sometimes for life. In Finima, the traditional leader of the town, known as the paramount chief, is chosen for life following a process of consultation by elders of the "Brown House" who put forward a consensus candidate to a meeting of the "house" for acceptance. He has various responsibilities, including settling disputes within the town and representing the community at the traditional leaders' council of the Bonny kingdom. Traditional leaders are recognized by the Nigerian government (as by the British colonial authorities) but nowadays operate in parallel with elected local, state, and federal government structures.

22 Most people from Finima have Brown as their last name and are regarded as being of the same family, even if they do not know their lineal connection; other family names in the town are Tobin and Attoni. The Tobins and Attonis also fall under the paramount chief of Finima.

23 In 1996, a High Court judge, in an interlocutory hearing in the court case relating to the chieftaincy, rejected an application that the court papers should not refer to Idamiebi-Brown as "chief" on the grounds that, until the substance of the case was finally heard "the defendant is still and he is the chief of Buoye-Omuse (Brown) House and head chief of Finima Town and the plaintiffs know they can not remove the defendant from that capacity of chief of Finima Town in Bonny without due process of law." Elder Bara Brown and Others v. Israel Idamiebi-Brown, Rivers State High Court, April 1996. Following this ruling, the case was withdrawn.

24 There are fourteen "houses" within the Brown "house," of which the elders of all but two or three support Idamiebi-Brown. The Attoni and Tobin families are far less numerous in Finima.

25 According to community members, _20 million had been paid by Mobil in 1992 to Barrister Bara Brown and other members of the group putting forward Dr. Yibo Brown as chief; the worst trouble in the community is dated from that time.

26 Letter from Peter F. Francis, for General Manager External Affairs, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, to Human Rights Watch, May 15, 2002.

27 Letter dated January 23, 2002, from Dr. Emmanuel I. Kachikwu, general counsel for Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, to Chief I.A. Idamiebi-Brown.

28 Ibid.

29 Letter from Peter F. Francis, for General Manager External Affairs, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, to Human Rights Watch, May 15, 2002.

30 Letter dated July 26, 2002, from Chief I.A. Idamiebi-Brown to Human Rights Watch.

31 Human Rights Watch interviews, Finima, March 17 and 18, 2002. Among those accompanying the Mobile Police was former Assistant Commissioner of Police Charles Brown, who had been severely beaten and driven from Finima in 1999, following the last attempt to install Dr. Yibo Brown as chief.

32 Human Rights Watch interview, Finima, March 17, 2002.

33 Among those arrested were the following: (a) Tonye Brown, Dagogo Benjamin Brown, Solomon Abbey, Diepreye Kalio and Dagogo Stowe, all arrested on March 13. They were charged with murder and were held in Port Harcourt prison until August 6, when they were released after the Rivers State director of public prosecutions decided there was no case to answer. (b) Dagogo Philip Brown and Victor Abelamaye Brown, arrested on March 13; and Abesa Israel Brown; Elder Inima Brown, arrested on March 15. These have been charged with offenses including assault, murder and armed robbery, and were released on bail on April 11. All four lost their jobs. The murder charge has been dropped but the other charges are outstanding. (c) Samuel I. Brown (arrested May 6), Fred Kalada Brown and Gabriel A. Brown (arrested on June 2), charged with murder. These were still in custody as of early October. Human Rights Watch interviews and telephone interviews, and emails from local sources, Port Harcourt, March to October, 2002.

34 Among those arrested in this group were, according to local informants: Igoni Attoni, Karios A. Brown, Kalatau O. Brown, Diepre Y. Brown, Soeriala Brown, Ayabobo Brown, Ala K. Brown, Sokubu Attoni, Awo F. Tobin, Kalada Allwell Brown and Leton Attoni. They were charged with armed robbery, which is not a bailable offence. Unlike the others arrested, however, they were released without waiting for the determination of the director of public prosecutions as to whether there was a case to answer.

35 Letter from Peter F. Francis, General Manager External Affairs, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, to Human Rights Watch, May 15, 2002.

36 See The Price of Oil, pp. 107-114.

37 See The Price of Oil, p. 71.

38 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

39 SPDC, "Environmental Impact Assessment: Gbaran Phase I Field Development Plan (Well Drilling Campaign)."

40 Human Rights Watch interviews, Gbarantoru, March 15 and 16, 2002; Tari Dadiowei, Gbaran Deep Landlords Association, "Gbaran Oil Field: An environment in dire need of redress," paper presented at Bayelsa Civil Society Assembly, Yenagoa, July 17, 2002.

41 In Gbarantoru, the chieftaincy is an elected position, with a five-year term.

42 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

43 Human Rights Watch interview, Gbarantoru, March 15, 2002.

44 Emails to Human Rights Watch from Gbarantoru residents, July 24 and August 24, 2002.

45 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

46 Fidelis Soriwei, Director, Izon Council for Human Rights, "Shell and Sorrow: Recent oil troubles in Gbarantoru," paper presented to Bayelsa civil society groups, national and international NGOs at Opolo, Yenagoa, July 31, 2002; emails to Human Rights Watch from Gbarantoru residents, July 24 and August 24, 2002.

47 See, for example, The Price of Oil, pp.134-156.

48 There has been extended debate about the naming of the flowstations, in particular the Krakama (Bille) flowstation (which is without a second "r", while Elem-Krakrama has two "r"s), as about the naming of many other flowstations in the delta, always a touchy subject. Since late 1999, following the four-month occupation of Krakama flowstation by youths from Bille, its name was changed, with the agreement of the Rivers State government (which is required), from Krakama to Krakama (Bille). The Bille people continue to demand that the two flow stations be known as "Bille 1" and "Bille 2."

49 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002; Human Rights Watch interviews in Ke and Bille, March 2002.

50 A criminal case against other suspects connected with this attack is still outstanding in the Rivers State High Court.

51 "Memorandum Submitted by the Amanyanabo, Chiefs and People of Bille Kingdom to the Judicial Commission of Enquiry into the Conflict between Bille and Ke in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State," February 2001, section 2.1.

52 "Memorandum Submitted by the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Police Command, to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Communal Conflicts between Bille and Ke Communities in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State," April 2001, section 2; Human Rights Watch interviews, Ke and Bille, March 22 and 23, 2002.

53 Fishing settlements are temporary residences, used by fishermen and women when at distant fishing grounds. The houses built there are relatively flimsy, of wattle and daub, rather than the brick or concrete-built structures those who can afford it build for their main houses in their home village (such as those in Ke or Bille itself).

54 Memorandum submitted by the Bille Kingdom, appendix XXXV.

55 Human Rights Watch interviews, March 22 and 23, 2002; submissions to the commission of inquiry.

56 Human Rights Watch interview, Port Harcourt, March 23, 2002.

57 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

58 See Kemedi, Oil on Troubled Waters.

59 Memorandum submitted by the Bille Kingdom, section 2.3.

60 Memorandum Submitted by the Commissioner of Police, section 5.

61 The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) takes the position that all Ijaw communities are "oil producing communities," according to a position adopted by the IYC in February 1999 at Miniama, Rivers State.

62 See "The Ogoni Crisis: A Case-Study of Military Repression in Southeastern Nigeria," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, July 1995; "Permanent Transition: Current Violations of Human Rights in Nigeria," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, September 1996; and The Price of Oil, pp.124-128.

63 "Shell oil director, Ogoni representative appear before Abuja panel," Guardian (Lagos), July 25, 2001. Shell's submission to the Oputa commission is available at

64 African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Communication No. 155/96, The Social and Economic Rights Action Centre and the Center for Economic and Social Rights / Nigeria, paragraph 58. See (cited on June 15, 2002).

65 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

66 See, for example, Sarah Moore, "Nigeria Pipeline Vandals Widen Rift Between Shell, Ogoni," Dow Jones Newswires, January 9, 2002; also, SPDC, People and the Environment: Annual Report 2001 (Lagos: SPDC, May 2002), pp.27-28.

67 "Killing of Ogoni Man Unjustified," MOSOP Press Release, June 19, 2001; Nick Ashton-Jones, "ERA Field Report - July 2001," Environmental Rights Action (London and Port Harcourt), July 2001.

68 "SPDC Response to Human Rights Watch Questions," May 31, 2002.

69 See Human Rights Watch, The Destruction of Odi and Rape in Choba, Background Briefing Paper, December 1999, and Update on Human Rights Violations in the Niger Delta, Background Briefing Paper, December 2000. Human Rights Watch has been shown a list of close to 2,000 people recorded killed; though we cannot verify this number, a figure of this size is entirely plausible given the level of destruction and similar tallies of dead that have followed similar army actions.

70 Jide Ajani, "FG promotes officers who stormed Odi, says Alamieyeseigha," Vanguard (Lagos), October 5, 2000.

71 "President in Odi, says `soldiers went beyond their brief,'" This Day (Lagos), March 16, 2001; Barnaby Phillips, "Obasanjo `regrets' army rampage,", March 16, 2001.

72 As quoted in Kola Ologbondiyan, "No apology over Odi," This Day (Lagos), March 30, 2001. The president's response is similar to his later response to criticisms of the army reprisal killings carried out in Benue State in October 2001. See Human Rights Watch, "Military Revenge in Benue: A Population Under Attack," Human Rights Watch Short Report, April 2002, and "Nigeria: President Ignoring Gravity of Military Massacre," press release, April 19, 2002.

73 Sam Ogbeifun, " Rights commission wants FG to reconstruct Odi," Vanguard (Lagos), August 21, 2001.

74 Tobs Agbaegbu, Chris Ajaero, Salif Atojoko and Mathias Oko, "Coup is still possible in Nigeria," Newswatch (Lagos), as distributed by Nigeria Today email news service, June 10, 2002.

75 Text of written response to impeachment charges distributed by Nigeria Today email news service, September 12, 2002.

76 Mustapha Ogunsakin, "Odi sues government, demands _1 billion damages," Guardian (Lagos), February 29 2000; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Okey Ilofunwa, Olisa Agbakoba's chambers, Lagos, August 12, 2002.

77 George Oji, "Odi Massacre: 9 women seek _19 m compensation for rape," This Day, July 19, 2002.

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