|OPINIONS AND ANALYSES
A LETTER SENT ON BEHALF OF NIGERIAN ETHNIC NATIONALITIES
TO OIL COMPANIES OPERATING IN THE NIGER DELTA
Action Group Against Enslavement of Nigerian Ethnic Groups
To: The Presidents [of the Following]
c.. British Petroleum
j.. Chevron; and
k.. All other foreign-owned Hydro-Carbon Upstream/Downstream Companies operating in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.
We have, with growing concern, followed the latest developments in the Niger Delta of Nigeria where your companies are involved in the exploitation of hydrocarbons.
On the basis of the ultimatum issued by [Mr. Piriye] Wellington and his group, who are part of the 5,000- strong Ijaw Congress, [calling on] all foreign oil companies [to] withdraw their activities from their area with [effect from] 31 December 1998, [the situation in the Niger Delta] has led to the following developments [according to reports] which we quote: ''We have irrefutable intelligence report that the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led military junta is planning an operation against the people of the Niger Delta. . . . the attack is supported by some Western governments and a consortium of oil companies including Shell, Texaco, Exxon, Mobil and Chevron who are supplying gunboats, pilots and other military hardware to be used.'' [The report] adds, ''We are aware that the Nigerian armed forces have no operational gunboats nor qualified pilots to fly them, hence their recourse to the use of foreign mercenaries...''
We [of the Action Group Against Enslavement of Nigerian Ethnic Groups] are of the opinion [and assume] that such actions are not policies of the above mentioned oil exploration companies operating in Nigeria.
We therefore implore all oil companies operating in all parts of Nigeria to reaffirm their commitment not to be part and parcel of any oppression, or policies of oppression in Nigeria against any of its citizens, be it by force or duress.
We implore therefore that each and every recipient of this communiqué reply by email indicating its position.
The absence of a reply from your company will be interpreted as non-compliance. It will therefore be interpreted that your company supports any oppression of the ethnic nationalities in this part of the country that may ensue after [December 31, 1998].
Transcript of Related News From Various Nigerian Newspapers
December 28, 1998
"IJAWS SUSPICIOUS OF U.S. OIL INITIATIVE"
"Militant Ijaw ethnic groups have dismissed federal government threats of military action in the Delta, saying 'it is nothing more than bravado.' The militant groups were responding to reports from Abuja that helicopter gun ships and soldiers are to be deployed to the delta to checkmate locals who have threatened unspecified action if foreign oil companies do not quit operation on their land. Piriye Wellington of the Save the Ijaw Group quoting senior military sources said the Nigerian military does not own a single helicopter gun ship. 'People who know a lot about the military know that they are under-equipped and don't even have properly trained pilots. Recently they have been depending on helicopters of the oil companies, particularly Shell and Texaco, to wage war on our people. Look at Texaco, they took military men on their helicopter to go and kill our people who seized their oil platforms in June. It is only the oil companies that can provide the military with helicopters and maybe Shell and Texaco have already imported helicopter gun ships because of the ultimatum we gave them to leave our land by December 31.' "
"The Solidarity Movement of the Southern Minorities of Nigeria (MSMN) expressed similar sentiments [in solidarity] with Wellington's group. In a statement on Christmas day issued by its acting secretary, Nosa Obaraye, titled 'No Blood For Oil,' MSMN said: 'We have irrefutable intelligence report that the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led military junta is planning an operation against the people of the Niger Delta. . . . the attack is supported by some Western governments and a consortium of oil companies including Shell, Texaco, Exxon, Mobil and Chevron who are supplying gunboats, pilots and other military hardware to be used,' adding ''We are aware that the Nigerian armed forces have no operational gunboats nor qualified pilots to fly them hence their recourse to the use of foreign mercenaries. . .''
"Wellington and his group, who are part of the 5,000 strong Ijaw Congress, said recent meetings held by United States top officials on oil producing African countries may not be unconnected with the recent turbulent events in the delta. 'What exactly is the the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Council (NSC) and USAID up to by meeting Mobil, Chevron, and Texaco officials with regards to Nigeria ?. What was Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Susan Rice also doing in that meeting that excluded environmental and human rights groups, which have criticised the oil companies' atrocities in Nigeria?' . . . . Reports said the U.S. companies were invited to participate in 'back ground' discussions about investment, commercial activity, economic activity and legal structures in Africa, particularly Nigeria because the U.S. buys up to half the country's oil production of two million barrels per day and accounted for about 10 percent of total U.S. imports."
"Wellington says the Ijaws are suspicious of U.S. motives but are undeterred. 'Our campaign is just and evil cannot prevail over good,' he said. Nigeria's Provisional Ruling Council is expected to resume discussions on the Ijaw ultimatum to foreign oil companies on Tuesday. Several meetings held by top security agencies, including the Directorate of Military Intelligence, State Security Service, and the police have been inconclusive. Regime officials said they are keen on negotiating with the Ijaws to resolve the conflict. Other reports said a military solution looks probable following an uncompromising attitude of the militants. Aso Rock [Nigeria's Head of State's] sources said the army and navy are to embark on a joint operation to flush out the 'trouble makers'. Due to the topography of the delta, security agents are to deploy 15 helicopter gun ships with night-vision equipment."
O. C. Obaro
Mr. Orevaoghene Charles Obaro of the Action Group Against
Enslavement of Nigerian Ethnic Groups (E-mail: email@example.com)
to reproduce this document.