Using Africa’s Resources for Development – Part 1

Title Using Africa’s Resources for   Development – Part 1
Director(s) Uongozi Institute
Date released (year) 2012
Production company Uongozi Institute
Length 39.44mins
Keywords/tags Oil, mining, natural resources, governance
Link to film
Synopsis Prof. Paul   Collier advises how Africa should benefit from mineral, oil and gas   extraction.

The current high prices for minerals, oil and gas offer an opportunity for   resource-rich countries in Africa to transform their economies and thereby   the lives of its people. Yet this ‘golden opportunity’ can be ruined by   corruption, environmental degradation and mismanagement, with benefits   limited to a lucky few.

What policies do governments need to have in place for the responsible exploitation   of minerals, oil and gas? How can African economies prepare themselves to   manage new found wealth? How can governments invest and save for future   generations? How should exploration rights be valued and extraction companies   taxed?

Professor Paul Collier explained his strategy for stimulating economic growth   in developing countries through selling natural resources such as minerals,   oil and gas at an event hosted in Tanzania by UONGOZI Institute on 20   February 2012

Reviews/discussion The Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable   Development, commonly known as UONGOZI Institute, offers training, discussions and resources on   leadership, executive management and strategic thinking to leaders in Africa   engaged in sustainable development.

Uongozi” means leadership   in Kiswahili, and inspiring and strengthening leadership is the core purpose   of our organisation. Based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, UONGOZI Institute is   dedicated to supporting African leaders to attain sustainable development for   their nations and for Africa

We seek to inspire leaders and promote the   recognition of the important role of leadership in sustainable development.   We believe that:

Leadership is the key to achieving   sustainable development

The development of a leader requires   specialised grooming

An African model of leadership is vital for   achieving the most favourable development outcomes for Africa.

The Institute is an independent government   agency established by the Government of Tanzania and supported by the   government of Finland.


Our Vision

A prosperous and equitable Africa through   effective leadership for sustainable development.


Our Mission

To inspire and equip African leaders to   realise their personal and collective potential to deliver sustainable   solutions for African citizens.



BRICS bloc’s rising ‘sub-imperialism’

Is this the latest threat to Africa?

By Patrick Bond

2012-11-29, Issue 608


Like Berlin in 1884-85,   the BRICS Durban summit is expected to carve up Africa more efficiently,   unburdened – now as then – by what will be derided as ‘Western’ concerns   about democracy and human rights.

The heads of state of the   Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) network of governments are   coming to Durban, South Africa, in four months, meeting on March 26-27 at the   International Convention Centre (ICC), Africa’s largest venue. Given their   recent performance, it is reasonable to expect another “1%” summit, wreaking   socioeconomic and ecological havoc. And that means it is time for the first   BRICS countersummit, to critique top-down “sub-imperialist” bloc formation,   and to offer bottom-up alternatives.

After all, we have had some bad experiences at the Durban ICC.

In 2001, in spite of demands by 10,000 protesters, the United Nations World   Conference Against Racism refused to grapple with reparations for slavery and   colonialism or with apartheid-Israel’s racism against Palestinians (hence Tel   Aviv’s current ethnic cleansing of Gaza goes unpunished).

The African Union got off to a bad start here, with its 2002 launch, due to   reliance on the neoliberal New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad)   promoted by Pretoria.

The 2003 World Economic Forum’s African regional meeting hastened   governments’ supplication to multinational corporate interests in spite of   protests.

In 2011, Durban’s UN COP17 climate summit – better known as the ‘Conference   of Polluters’ – featured Washington’s sabotage, with no new emissions cuts   and an attempted revival of the non-solution called ‘carbon trading’, also   called ‘the privatisation of the air’.


Like Berlin in 1884-85, the BRICS Durban summit is expected to carve up   Africa more efficiently, unburdened – now as then – by what will be derided   as “Western” concerns about democracy and human rights. Reading between the   lines, its resolutions will:

– support favoured corporations’ extraction and land-grab strategies;

– worsen Africa’s retail-driven deindustrialisation (South Africa’s Shoprite   and Makro – soon to be run by Walmart – are already notorious in many capital   cities for importing even simple products that could be supplied locally);

– revive failed projects such as Nepad; and

– confirm the financing of both land grabbing and the extension of   neocolonial infrastructure through a new ‘BRICS Development Bank’, likely to   be based just north of Johannesburg where the Development Bank of Southern   Africa already does so much damage following Washington’s script.

The question is whether in exchange for the Durban summit amplifying such   destructive tendencies, which appears certain, can those few of Africa’s   elites who may be invited leverage any greater influence in world economic   management via the BRICS? With South Africa’s finance minister Pravin   Gordhan’s regular critiques of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund   (IMF), there is certainly potential for BRICS to “talk left” about the   global-governance democracy deficit.

But watch the ‘walk right’ carefully. In the vote for World Bank president   earlier this year, for example, Pretoria’s choice was hard-core Washington   ideologue Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister who with IMF   managing director Christine Lagarde catalysed the Occupy movement’s near   revolution in January, with a removal of petrol subsidies. Brasilia chose the   moderate economist Jose Antonio Ocampo and Moscow backed Washington’s choice:   Jim Yong Kim.

This was a repeat of the prior year’s fiasco in the race for IMF managing   director, won by Lagarde in spite of ongoing corruption investigations   against her by French courts, because the Third World was divided and   conquered. BRICS appeared in both cases as incompetent, unable to even agree   on a sole candidate, much less win their case in Washington.

Yet in July, BRICS treasuries sent US$100 billion in new capital to the IMF,   which was seeking new systems of bail-out for banks exposed in Europe. South   Africa’s contribution was only $2 billion, a huge sum for Gordhan to muster   against local trade union opposition. Explaining the South African contribution   – initially he said it would be only one tenth as large – Gordhan told   Moneyweb last year that it was on condition that the IMF became more “nasty”   [sic] to desperate European borrowers, as if the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese   and Irish poor and working people were not suffering enough.

And the result of this BRICS intervention is that China gains IMF voting   power, but Africa actually loses a substantial fraction of its share. Even   Gordhan admitted at last month’s Tokyo meeting of the IMF and world Bank that   it is likely “the vast majority of emerging and developing countries will   lose quota shares – an outcome that will perpetuate the democratic deficit.”   And given “the crisis of legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness of the   IMF”, it “is simply untenable” that Africa only has two seats for its 45   member countries.

Likewise, South Africa’s role in Africa has been “nasty”, as confirmed when   Nepad was deemed “philosophically spot on” by lead US State Department Africa   official Walter Kansteiner in 2003, and foisted privatisation of even basic   services on the continent. In a telling incident this year, the Johannesburg   parastatal firm Rand Water was forced to leave Ghana after failing – with a   Dutch for-profit partner (Aqua Vitens) – to improve Accra’s water supply, as   also happened in Maputo, Mozambique, (Saur from Paris) and Dar es Salaam   (Biwater from London) in Tanzania.

As a matter of principle, BRICS appears hell bent on promoting the further   commodification of life, at a time when the greatest victory won by ordinary   Africans in the last decade is under attack: the winning of the Treatment   Action Campaign’s demand for affordable access to AIDS medicines, via India’s   cheap generic versions of drugs. A decade ago, they cost $10,000 per person per   year and only a tiny fraction of desperate people received the medicines.   Now, more than 1.5 million South Africans – and millions more in the rest of   Africa – get treatment, thus raising the South Africa’s average life   expectancy from 52 in 2004 to 60 today, according to reliable statistics   released this month.

However, in recent months, Obama has put an intense squeeze on India to cut   back on generic medicine R&D and production, as well as making deep cuts   in his own government’s aid commitment to fund African healthcare. In Durban,   the city that is home to the most HIV+ people in the world, Obama’s move   resulted in this year’s closure of AIDS public treatment centres at three   crucial sites. One was the city’s McCord Hospital, which ironically was a long-standing   ally of the NGO Partners in Health, whose cofounder was Obama’s pick for   World Bank president, Jim Kim.



Links to other resources Thomas Pakenham (1992) The Scramble for Africa: White Man’s   Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912. See:

The Economist (2011) Africa’s natural resources: Spread the wealth:

Shell Oil – The Awful Truth

Title Shell Oil – The Awful Truth
Date released (year) 2010
Production company Protect the human
Length 2.30mins
Location Nigeria/   Niger delta
Keywords/tags Oil, natural   resources, civil war
Link to film
Synopsis Shell Nigeria is one of the   largest oil producers in the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. 80% of the oil   extraction in Nigeria is in the Niger Delta, the southeast region of the   country. The Delta is home to many small minority ethnic groups, including   the Ogoni, all of which suffer egregious exploitation by multinational oil   companies, like Shell. Shell provides over 50% of the income keeping the   Nigerian dictatorship in power.
Although oil from Ogoniland has provided approximately $30 billion to the   economy of Nigeria, the people of Ogoni see little to nothing from their   contribution to Shell’s pocketbook. Shell has done next to nothing to help   Ogoni. By 1996, Shell employed only 88 Ogoni (0.0002% of the Ogoni   population, and only 2% of Shell’s employees in Nigeria). Ogoni villages have   no clean water, electricity, abysmal health care, no jobs for displaced   farmers and fisher persons and face the effects of unrestrained environmental   molestation by Shell everyday.
Since Shell began drilling oil in Ogoniland in 1958, the people of Ogoniland   have had pipelines built across their farmlands and in front of their homes,   suffered endemic oil leaks from these very pipelines, been forced to live   with the constant flaring of gas. This environmental assault has smothered land   with oil, killed masses of fish and other aquatic life, and introduced   devastating acid rain to the land of the Ogoni. For the Ogoni, a people   dependent upon farming and fishing, the poisoning of the land and water has   had devastating economic and health consequences. Shell claims to clean up   its oil spills, but such “clean-ups” consist of techniques like   burning the crude which results in a permanent layer of crusted oil metres   thick and scooping oil into holes dug in surrounding earth.Both Shell and the government admit that Shell contributes to the funding of   the military in the Delta region. Under the auspices of   “protecting” Shell from peaceful demonstrators in the village of   Umeuchem (10 miles from Ogoni), the police killed 80 people, destroyed houses   and vital crops. Shell conceded it twice paid the military for going to   specific villages. Although it disputes that the purpose of these excursions   was to quiet dissent, each of the military missions paid for by Shell   resulted in Ogoni fatalities. Shell has also admitted purchasing weapons for   the police force who guard its facilities, and there is growing suspicion   that Shell funds a much greater portion of the military than previously   admitted.

Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 8 were leaders of MOSOP, the Movement for   Survival of the Ogoni People. As outspoken environmental and human rights   activists, they declared that Shell was not welcome in Ogoniland. On November   10, 1995, they were hanged after a trial by a special military tribunal   (whose decisions cannot be appealed) in the murder of four other Ogoni   activists. The defendants’ lawyers were harassed and denied access to their   clients. Although none of them were near the town where the murders occurred,   they were convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that many heads of   state strongly condemned for a stunning lack of evidence, unmasked partiality   towards the prosecution and the haste of the trial. The executions were   carried out a mere eight days after the decision. Two witnesses against the MOSOP   leaders admitted that Shell and the military bribed them to testify against   Ken Saro-Wiwa with promises of money and jobs at Shell. Ken’s final words   before his execution were:
“The struggle continues!”


Reviews/discussion See the Centre for Constitutional Rights,   Factesheet on Shell in Nigeria:

Royal Dutch Shell, plc (Shell) began oil   production in the
Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1958 and has a long
history of working closely with the Nigerian government to
quell popular opposition to its presence in the region. From
1990-1995, Nigerian soldiers, at Shell’s request and with
Shell’s assistance and financing, used deadly force and
conducted massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni people
living in the Niger Delta to repress a growing movement in
protest of Shell.

On November 10, 1995, nine Ogoni leaders (the “Ogoni
Nine”) were executed by the Nigerian government after
being falsely accused of murder and tried by a speciallycreated
military tribunal. Those executed were internationally
acclaimed environmental and human rights activist Ken
Saro-Wiwa, prominent youth leader John Kpuinen, Dr.
Barinem Kiobel, Saturday Doobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel
Gbokoo, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate and Baribor Bera. The
detention, trial, and executions of the Ogoni Nine were the
result of collusion between Shell and the military government to suppress   opposition to Shell’s oil operations in Nigeria. The Center for   Constitutional Rights (CCR),
EarthRights International (ERI) and other human rights
attorneys sued Shell for human rights violations against the
Ogoni. The case will go to trial on May 26, 2009 in
federal court in New York City.


Shell acquitted of Nigeria pollution charges

The case involved five   allegations of oil spills in Nigeria, four of which were quashed by the court

Fiona Harvey, environment   correspondent, and Afua Hirsch, The Guardian, Wednesday   30 January 2013 11.31 GMT:

Plaintiff Nigerian farmer Eric Dooh showing   his hand covered with oil from a creek near Goi, Ogoniland, Nigeria.   Photograph: Marten Van Dijl/EPA

Shell was acquitted in a Dutch court on Wednesday morning of most of the   charges against it for pollution in Nigeria, where disputed oil spills have   been a long-running source of contention between the oil company, local   people and environmental campaigners.

The case involved five allegations of spills in Nigeria, and   four of these were quashed by the court. On the fifth count, Shell was   ordered to pay compensation, of an amount yet to be decided.

The case was brought in the Netherlands because of Shell’s dual   headquartership, being both Dutch and British, and was brought by four   Nigerian farmers co-sponsored by the international green campaigning group   Friends of the Earth.

In a statement, Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: “This   verdict is great news for the people in lkot Ada Udo who started this case   together with Milieudefensie [Friends of the Earth Netherlands]. But the   verdict also offers hope to other victims of environmental pollution caused   by multinationals. At the same time, the verdict is a bitter disappointment   for the people in the villages of Oruma and Goi – where the court did not   rule to hold Shell liable for the damage. Fortunately, this can still change   in an appeal.”

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa programme director, said:   “Clearly it’s good news that one of the plaintiffs in this case managed   to clamber over all the obstacles to something approaching justice. However,   the fact that the other plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed underscores the   very serious obstacles people from the Niger Delta face in accessing justice when   their lives have been destroyed by oil pollution.”

Shell’s subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria,   said the main cause of oil spills in the country was from people taking oil   for illegal refineries. Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of SPDC said:   “We welcome the court’s ruling that all spill cases were caused by   criminal activity. Oil pollution is a problem in Nigeria, affecting the daily   lives of people in the Niger Delta. However, the vast majority of oil   pollution is caused by oil thieves and illegal refiners. This causes major   environmental and economic damage, and is the real tragedy of the Niger   Delta.”

He added: “SPDC has made great efforts to raise awareness of the   issue with the government of Nigeria, international bodies like the UN, the   media and NGOs. We will continue to be at the forefront of discussions to   find solutions. For SPDC no oil spill is acceptable and we are working hard   to improve our performance on operational spills. In the past years we have   seen a decline in operational spill volumes. These spills, however, were   caused by sabotage and the court has, quite rightly, largely dismissed the   claims.”

The case turned on whether Shell was responsible for the spills, through   negligence and a failure to invest in proper safety systems of the kind that   are required in developed countries, as the campaigners alleged, or whether –   as Shell argued – the spills were mainly the result of local people   attempting to steal oil from pipelines.

It is understood that the court took the view that four of the spills   were caused by sabotage, as people tried to extract oil for their own   purposes. In the case of the fifth, the finding was that Shell had been   negligent in failing to prevent such sabotage.

But the farmers and green campaigners are expected to appeal against the   verdict to a higher court.

Shell is accused of widespread spills across the regions of Nigeria   where it operates, but the allegations in question concerned incidents in   Goi, Ogoniland, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom.

“There is an atmosphere of celebration here – the community feels   that some justice has been done,” said Ken Henshaw, a Niger Delta   activist from campaign group Social Action which has closely followed the   case. “A precedent has been set, it has been made known that shell can   be liable for damages and loss of livelihood.”

“We didn’t win all the cases, but we won one, and that one is a   precedent,” Henshaw added. “We are prepared to appeal the other   ones. Shell tries to give the impression that the oil spills are caused by   sabotage, but we are convincied that it was not sabotage. It is the result of   equipment failure and neglect on the part of Shell.”

“We are emboldened by this victory, we feel confident that we will   definitely succeed on appeal. This is a major threshold, now that we have   crossed it, we can bring more claims. The communities who have had their   lives ruined by oil companies now feel galvanized to take action.”

Plantiffs from Ikot Ada Udo, Akwa Ibom State, whose case was successful,   said they were now looking forward to compensation for their loss of livelihood.

“We were successful today, and I am happy, I know that the judgment   has been divinely directed,” said Elder Friday Akpan, 55, from the Ikot   Abasi area of Akwa ibom state, whose 47 catfish farms were destroyed   following pollution from an oil spill, a claim which the court upheld as   caused by a breach of Shell Nigeria’s duty of care.

“The fishes died completely. I was confused because it left me   completely empty,” Akpan added. “I did not have some money to pay   school fees for my twelve children, and nothing to allow me to earn my   livelihood again. Debts I had borrowed I could not repay. There was nothing   for me. I was finished.”

One lawyer involved in the case said that it was right to see it as a   victory.

“There are positives and negatives from this case,” said Prince   Chima Williams, head the legal affairs department at the Environmental Rights   Action group. “It is positive in the sense that the court has found   Shell liable for the environmental destruction in Akwa Ibom State. It is   positive because it means that Nigerian citizens can now drag Shell to court   in Holland for its actions and inactions in their communities.”

“The negative aspect is that the court refused to agree with us   Shell’s negligence caused the other oil spills. Because we disagree with the   court on that position, and that is why our first priority now is going to be   to appeal the judgment,” Williams added.

The case has cast a spotlight on the power which Shell wields in Nigeria,   amidst allegations that the Nigerian authorities would not have enforced the   judgment had the case been brought in local courts.

“Shell do not admit mistakes,” said Akpan. They would not obey   a judgment in a Nigerian court. When they know that the judgment is in   Holland it’s better.”

“We considered all the options and the history of litigation in   Nigeria before deciding to take the case to Holland,” said Williams.   “We could not have confidence in the judiciary in Nigeria because,   coming from our experience, when the judiciary gives a judgment, the   enforcement of that judgment by the executive becomes a problem.”

“Shell is a very stubborn company, and in Nigeria, in some   situations, it is more powerful than the Nigerian government,” Williams   added.

Activists believe that the case will have a longer-term effect on   attitudes within communities affected by oil spills in Nigeria.

“In the long run a case like this will promote self-help among   communities, because they know that if they know they can go to court in   Holland, they can obtain a judgment that will be complied with, from which   they can reap the benefits” said Williams.

The level of damages is yet to be determined. “In the case itself we   didn’t make specific demands for an amount, so the next step will be for the   community to assist the court with an assessment of the actual loss that   should be compensated,” said Williams.


Links to other resources Watts, M. (ed) (2008) Curse of the   black gold: 50 years of oil in the Niger Delta. New York:   Powerhouse.

Protect the   Human:

     8:34           The Video Shell Oil Desperately Doesn’t   Want You to See
     4:50           The people of Nigeria versus Shell   (English)

     9:31           Ken Saro-Wiwa: his last interview, part I

     3:07           Gas Flares, Oil Companies and Politics In   Nigeria.
     22:38           Oil War
     8:52           The Awful Truth

NWO OIL CORRUPTION destroying Niger Delta

Title NWO OIL CORRUPTION   destroying Niger Delta
Director(s) AllOverAfrica
Date released (year) 2013
Production company AllOverAfrica
Length 8.15mins
Location Niger Delta
Keywords/tags Governance, corruption, natural   resources, oil, civil war, violence
Link to film
Synopsis A Nigerian activist says that   corruption is so pervasive in Niger Delta that its politicians have stopped   governing and only help in the rape of its resources.

Mother of Nigeria’s finance   minister was kidnapped this week amid reports of millions of dollars being   looted from Nigeria’s treasury. Also there has been a recent spate of   killings in the oil rich Delta State. Press TV has interviewed Ms. Alice   Ukoko, Founder of Women of Africa, London about this issue.


Reviews/discussion From Wikipedia:

Conflict in the Niger Delta

The current conflict in the Niger   Delta arose in the early 1990s over tensions between the foreign   oil corporations   and a number of the Niger Delta‘s   minority ethnic groups who felt they were being exploited, particularly the Ogoni   and the Ijaw.   Ethnic and political unrest has continued throughout the 1990s and persists   as of 2007 despite the conversion to democracy   and the election of the Obasanjo   government in 1999. Competition for oil wealth has fueled violence between   many ethnic groups,   causing the militarization of nearly the entire region by ethnic militia   groups as well as Nigerian military   and police forces (notably the Nigerian Mobile Police).   Victims of crimes are fearful of seeking justice for crimes committed against   them because of growing “impunity from prosecution for individuals   responsible for serious human rights abuses, [which] has created a   devastating cycle of increasing conflict and violence”.[6]   The regional and ethnic conflicts are so numerous that fully detailing each   is impossible and impractical. However, there have been a number of major   confrontations that deserve elaboration.

Nigeria,   after nearly four decades of oil production, had by the early 1980s become   almost completely dependent on petroleum extraction economically, generating   25% of its GDP (this   has since risen to 60% as of 2008). Despite the vast wealth created by   petroleum, the benefits have been slow to trickle down to the majority of the   population, who since the 1960s have increasingly been forced to abandon   their traditional agricultural practices. Annual production of both cash   and food crops dropped significantly in the latter decades of 20th century, cocoa   production dropped by 43% (Nigeria was the world’s largest cocoa exporter in   1960), rubber   dropped by 29%, cotton   by 65%, and groundnuts   by 64%.[7]   In spite of the large number of skilled, well-paid Nigerians who have been employed   by the oil corporations, the majority of Nigerians and most especially the   people of the Niger Delta states and the far north have become poorer since   the 1960s.[8]

The Delta   region has a steadily growing population estimated to be over 30 million   people as of 2005, accounting for more than 23% of Nigeria’s total   population. The population density is also among the highest in the world   with 265 people per kilometre-squared (reference NDDC). This   population is expanding at a rapid 3% per year and the oil capital, Port   Harcourt, along with other large towns are growing quickly. Poverty and urbanization   in Nigeria are on the rise, and official corruption is considered a fact of   life. The resultant scenario is one in which there is urbanization but no   accompanying economic growth to provide jobs. This has led to a section of   the growing populace assisting in destroying the ecosystem that they require   to sustain themselves.[7]

The case of Ogoniland   (1992–1995)

See also: Movement for the   Survival of the Ogoni People and Ken   Saro-Wiwa

Ogoniland   is a 404-square-mile (1,050 km2) region in the southeast of   the Niger   Delta basin. Economically viable petroleum   was discovered in Ogoniland in 1957, just one year after the discovery of   Nigeria’s first commercial petroleum deposit, with Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron Corporation setting up shop   throughout the next two decades. The Ogoni   people, a minority ethnic group of about half a million people who call   Ogoniland home, and other ethnic groups in the region attest that during this   time, the government began forcing them to abandon their land to oil   companies without consultation, and offering negligible compensation. This is   further supported by a 1979 constitutional addition which afforded the   federal government full ownership and rights to all Nigerian territory and   also decided that all compensation for land would “be based on the value   of the crops on the land at the time of its acquisition, not on the value of   the land itself.” The Nigerian government could now distribute the   land to oil companies as it deemed fit.[9]

The 1970s   and 1980s saw the government’s empty promises of benefits for the Niger Delta   peoples fall through, with the Ogoni growing increasing dissatisfied and   their environmental, social, and economic apparatus rapidly deteriorating.   The Movement for the   Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) was formed in 1992. MOSOP,   spearheaded by Ogoni playwright and author Ken   Saro-Wiwa, became the major campaigning organization representing the   Ogoni people in their struggle for ethnic and environmental rights. Its   primary targets, and at times adversaries, have been the Nigerian government   and Royal Dutch Shell.

Beginning   in December 1992, the conflict between Ogonis and the oil infrastructure   escalated to a level of greater seriousness and intensity on both sides. Both   parties began carrying out acts of violence and MOSOP issued an ultimatum to   the oil companies (Shell, Chevron, and the Nigerian National Petroleum   Corporation) which demanded some $10 billion in accumulated royalties,   damages and compensation, and “immediate stoppage of environmental   degradation”, and negotiations for mutual agreement on all future   drilling.[10]

The Ogonis   threatened to embark on mass action to disrupt their operation if the   companies failed to comply. By this act, the Ogoni shifted the focus of their   actions from an unresponsive federal government to the oil companies engaged   in their own region. The rationale for this assignment of responsibility were   the benefits accrued by the oil companies from extracting the natural wealth   of the Ogoni homeland, and neglect from central government.

The   government responded by banning public gatherings and declaring that   disturbances of oil production were acts of treason. Oil extraction from the   territory had slowed to a trickle of 10,000 barrels per day (1,600 m3/d)   (.5% of the national total).

Military   repression escalated in May 1994. On May 21, soldiers and mobile policemen   appeared in most Ogoni villages. On that day, four Ogoni chiefs (all on the   conservative side of a schism within MOSOP over strategy) were brutally   murdered. Saro-Wiwa, head of the opposing faction, had been denied entry to   Ogoniland on the day of the murders, but he was detained in connection with   the killings. The occupying forces, led by Major Paul Okuntimo of Rivers   State Internal Security, claimed to be ‘searching for those directly   responsible for the killings of the four Ogonis.’ However, witnesses say that   they engaged in terror operations against the general Ogoni population. Amnesty International characterized the   policy as deliberate terrorism. By mid-June, the security forces had razed 30   villages, detained 600 people and killed at least 40. This figure eventually   rose to 2,000 civilian deaths and the displacement of around 100,000 internal   refugees.[11][12]

In May   1994, nine activists from the movement who would become known as ‘The Ogoni   Nine’, among them Ken Saro-Wiwa, were arrested and accused of incitement   to murder following the deaths of four Ogoni elders. Saro-Wiwa and his   comrades denied the charges, but were imprisoned for over a year before being   found guilty and sentenced to death by a specially convened tribunal,   hand-selected by General Sani Abacha, on 10 November 1995. The activists were   denied due   process and upon being found guilty, were hanged by the   Nigerian state.[13]

The   executions were met with an immediate international response. The trial was   widely criticised by human rights organisations and the governments of   other states, who condemned the Nigerian government’s long history of   detaining their critics, mainly pro-democracy and other political activists.   The Commonwealth of Nations, which had also   plead for clemency, suspended Nigeria’s membership in response. The United   States, the United Kingdom, and the EU   all implemented sanctions, but not on petroleum   (Nigeria’s main export).

Shell   claims it asked the Nigerian government for clemency towards those found   guilty[citation needed],   but its request was refused. However, a 2001 Greenpeace   report found that “two witnesses that accused them [Saro-Wiwa and the   other activists] later admitted that Shell and the military had bribed them   with promises of money and jobs at Shell. Shell admitted having given money   to the Nigerian military, who brutally tried to silence the voices which   claimed justice”.[14]

As of   2006, the situation in Ogoniland has eased significantly, assisted by the   transition to democratic rule in 1999. However, no attempts have been made by   the government or an international body to bring about justice by   investigating and prosecuting those involved in the violence and property   destruction that have occurred in Ogoniland,[15]   although a class action lawsuit has been brought against Shell by individual   plaintiffs in the US.[16]


Links to other resources

Watts, M. (ed) (2008) Curse of the black gold: 50 years of oil in the Niger Delta.   New York: Powerhouse.

Academic discussion:

Also see The Curse of Black Gold: