UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Nigeria: WCC Ogoni Report
Date distributed (ymd): 970408
WCC REPORT DOCUMENTS OPPRESSION OF NIGERIA'S OGONI PEOPLE
The Ogoni people of Nigeria have suffered extensive environmental pollution and political repression under the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. The Ogoni crisis attracted international attention in November 1995 when the military government executed Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni environmentalists who were members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).
Now this struggle has been exhaustively documented in a special report published by the World Council of Churches (WCC), "Ogoni: The Struggle Continues." Written by Dr. Deborah Robinson of the WCC's Program to Combat Racism who visited Ogoniland in 1996, the report includes detailed background on the economic and political situation in Nigeria, a history of the military dictatorship, and an extensive review of the role of the oil industry in Nigeria's political economy.
The Ogoni people live in the oil-rich Niger Delta, a region which has been heavily exploited by Shell and other multinational oil companies, in cooperation with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Oil exports provide roughly 90 percent of the foreign exchange earnings of Nigeria's military government. The Ogoni and other minority groups in the Delta realize little if any benefit from these oil revenues.
The WCC report confirms MOSOP's claims of the environmental devastation which oil production has inflicted on the people of the Niger Delta. It includes evidence of oil spills, the dumping of oil into waterways, continual flaring of waste gas, and the hazardous above-ground oil pipes that crisscross the region.
The report also describes in detail the Nigerian military's efforts to suppress Ogoni protests. "A quiet state of siege prevails even today in Ogoniland. Intimidation, rape, arrests, torture, shooting and looting by the soldiers continue to occur,'' Robinson writes. Her conclusions are supported by interviews which provide first-hand accounts of beatings, torture, and intimidation.
Churches have also been targeted by the Nigerian authorities. Robinson heard many accounts of the harassment and arrest of church leaders; one minister said sometimes pastors are told what to preach and pray about.
In a preface to the report, the Rev. Dr. Sam Kobia, Director of the WCC's Unit III (Peace, Justice and Creation), notes that the Ogoni case highlights the deteriorating political situation throughout Nigeria. The Ogoni have dared to stand up for their rights, "even unto death" and "have borne the worst brunt of the military repression."
Kobia says the report is a moral challenge to the international community to do something about the situation: "The time to show solidarity is now."
President Clinton imposed a range of sanctions on Nigeria following the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa. These included restrictions on arms sales, visas, and air traffic between the United States and Nigeria.
Last year, Congress considered but did not act on legislation which would have imposed more stringent sanctions on Nigeria. The measures under consideration stopped short of a ban on the importation of Nigerian oil. A November 1996 WCC meeting, which brought together church representatives from Nigeria, Europe, and North America, recommended a boycott of Nigerian oil.
For information on availability of the report outside the United States, contact Clement John, World Council of Churches, Unit III, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland; tel: +41-22-791-6111; fax: +41-22-791-0361; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the U.S., copies of "Ogoni: The Struggle Continues" (106 pp.) are available from the Washington Office on Africa at $5.00 each plus postage and handling ($2.50 for the first copy, $1.00 for each additional copy).
To order, please complete the form below and return it with payment to the Washington Office on Africa, 110 Maryland Ave., NE, #509, Washington, DC 20002. Please make checks payable to WOA.
Please send me "Ogoni: The Struggle Continues."
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Message-Id: <199704090250.TAA03038@igc3> Comments: Authenticated sender is <email@example.com> Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 22:50:09 -0500 Subject: Nigeria: WCC Ogoni Report
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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