1. The Issue
Oil has been an important part of the Nigerian economy since
vast reserves of petroleum were discovered in Nigeria in the 1950s.
For example, revenues from oil have increased from 219 million
Naira in 1970 to 10.6 billion Naira in 1979. Currently, Nigeria
earns over 95 percent of its foreign exchange from the sale of oil
on the global market. Foreign oil companies have dominated oil
exploration, drilling, and shipping in Nigeria. For example, Shell
Oil controls approximately 60 percent of the domestic oil market in
Nigeria. Shell operates many of its oil facilities in the oil-rich
Delta region of Nigeria. The Ogonis, an ethnic group that
predominate in the Delta region, have protested that Shell’s oil
production has not only devastated the local environment, but has
destroyed the economic viability of the region for local farmers
and producers. The Nigerian Federal Government, on the other hand,
has been charged with failing to enact and enforce environmental
protection against oil damage by Shell and other oil companies.
Furthermore, many Ogonis have been harassed and even killed by the
Federal government for organizing protests and threatening sabotage
of oil facilities.
Oil production in Nigeria has had severe environmental and
human consequences for the indigenous peoples who inhabit the areas
surrounding oil extraction. Nigeria’s export of 12 million barrels
of oil a day comes from 12% of the country’s land, and indigenous
minority communities in these areas receive no economic benefits.
Development strategies focused on increasing foreign investments in
Nigeria’s oil industry to boost exports have not caused overall
development. The revenue gained has helped to benefit foreign
nations and Nigerian government elites more than native
populations. Indigenous groups are actually further impoverished
due to environmental degradation from oil production and the lack
of adequate regulations on multinational companies, as they become
more vulnerable to food shortages, health hazards, loss of land,
pollution, forced migration and unemployment. These affected
groups include Abribas, Andonis, Edos, Effiks, Gokanas, Ibibios,
Ejaws, Ika-Ibos, Ikwernes Isekiris, Isokus, Kalaboris, Urhobos and
Ogonis, who together comprise one fourth of Nigeria’s population
(approximately 30,000 million people). The welfare of these
various groups has been completely neglected by the ruling military
regime and the multi-national companies who operate joint ventures
in the exploration of Nigeria’s resources. Given that 87% of the
Nigerian total government revenue comes from oil production, and
that oil companies sole purpose is to maximize profits, both
institutions have an interest in maintaining production at the
The Ogoni have sought more political autonomy and compensation
for environmental damage to their land by oil companies since 1990.
Their campaign, against Shell Oil Company which has extracted an
estimated US $30 billion of oil from Ogoniland since 1958, has
been met with force and extreme violence by Nigeria’s military
government. Protesters have been jailed, killed and silenced for
demonstrating against the multi-national company. For example, Ken
Saro-Wiwa, leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni
People, has been jailed and accused of inciting members of the
group to kill four Ogoni elders. However, “his more likely
“crime” is his effort to organize the Ogoni ethnic minority to stop
destruction of their homeland caused by operations of Shell and
Chevron, the multinational oil companies, and seek compensation for
his people’s lost farmland and fisheries.”
Military coups have become something of a tradition in
Nigerian politics, dating from the military seizure of power which
followed the federal elections in 1964 in an effort to forge
national unity. A succession of military regimes ensued
(interrupted only briefly by civil rule), each replaced for its
failure to effect national unity, policy reform, and effective
economic policy. In 1993, Nigeria’s democratically elected
president was ousted out of office by the military government of
General Abacha, who then became president. As a result oil
production workers went on strike demanding that the fairly elected
president, Moshood Abiola, be allowed to return to power. The oil
workers joined pro-democracy activists in striking against the
military rulers who were widely viewed as having totally mismanaged
Nigeria’s economy. The Unions , eager to get the oil industry out
of corrupt hands, forced the state owned Nigerian National
Petroleum Company to become largely in debt, causing Shell Oil
Company a loss of one third of its usual production of 920,000
barrels per day. Companies oil production in Nigeria was being
hampered by the debt burden, in turn hurting Nigeria’s foreign
exchange earnings from oil exports. The strikes were met with
brute force by the Abacha regime which rules the country with an
iron fist, often committing human rights abuses and otherwise
suppressing political dissent. Abacha believes that the task of
this military regime is to “bear the burden of managing the
delicate transition from military to civil rule.” However,
Abacha is intent on bearing this burden for as long as he can.
Community Attempts at Collective Action
In the context of this wider political crisis, the government
feared that the Ogoni’s protests against environmental degradation
would have a snowballing affect and that other ethnic groups would
begin to fight with each other. In an effort to suppress this, the
regime uses brute force and systemic violence claiming that they
are actually helping to curtail the fighting between ethnic groups.
The story of the Ogoni people has received world wide attention as
a result of the arrest of Saro-wiwa, which has been exposed by
human rights and environmental groups. Amnesty International and
Greenpeace have campaigned against his arrest and have accused
Nigeria’s military government of looting, rape and executions of
oil protesters. “The Nigerian security forces have been
responsible for the extrajudicial executions of Rivers State
villagers protesting against environmental damage and inadequate
compensation for destruction of land and crops by oil companies.”
In a Greenpeace study on the Ogoni and Shell oil company, protests
met with state violence in eight communities along the Niger Delta
are documented. For example, a community in southern Lijaw sealed
Shell’s Dieby Creek Flowstation to protest against non-payment by
Shell for an oil spill which occurred in 1992. The Ogbia community
produced a Charter of Demands and established an organization to
demand compensation for damages caused by Shell. In another
instance, in 1990, about 80 people in Umuechen by the Mobile
Police Force killed and 495 homes were destroyed during a peaceful
protest against Shell, after the company requested the assistance
of the police.
The social and environmental costs of oil production have been
extensive. They include destruction of wildlife and biodiversity,
loss of fertile soil, pollution of air and drinking water,
degradation of farmland and damage to aquatic ecosystems, all of
which have caused serious health problems for the inhabitants of
areas surrounding oil production. Pollution is caused by gas
flaring, above ground pipeline leakage, oil waste dumping and oil
spills. Approximately 75% of gas produced is flared annually
causing considerable ecological and physical damage to other
resources such as land/soil, water and vegetation. Gas flares,
which are often times situated close to villages, produce “soot
which is deposited on building roofs of neighboring villages.
Whenever it rains, the soot is washed off and the black ink-like
water running from the roofs is believed to contain chemicals which
adversely effect the fertility of the soil.” Without fertile
soil, indigenous groups lose their mode of survival and are faced
with the crisis of food shortages.
Gas pipelines have also caused irreparable damage to lands
once used for agricultural purposes. These pipes should be buried
to reduce risk of fracture and spillage. However, they are often
laid above ground and run directly through villages, where oil
leaks have rendered the land economically useless. An account of
Shell Oil Company’s record in the Ogoni region uncovers a “ravaged
environment ..(in which) oil pulses out of burst pipes and slicks
dead vegetation.” Although in its operation in other countries
Shell ensures that it does not degrade the environment, it does not
take such precautions in Nigeria. For example, “for Shell’s
pipeline from Stanlow in Cheshire to Mossmoran in Scottland, 17
different environmental surveys were commissioned before a single
turf was cut… A detailed Environmental Assessment Impact covered
every measure of the (pipeline) route.. Elaborate measures were
taken to avoid lasting disfiguring and the route was diverted in
several palaces to accommodate environmental concerns..The Ogoni
have never seen, let alone been consulted over, an environmental
Oil spills and the dumping oil into waterways has been
extensive, often poisoning drinking water and destroying
vegetation. These incidents have become common occupance due to
the lack of laws and enforcement measures within the existing
political regime. Between 1970 and 1982, 1,581 incidents of oil
spillage were documented in Nigeria. In addition, “according to
an independent record of Shell’s spills from 1982 to 1992,
1,626,000 gallons were spilt from the company’s Nigerian operations
in 27 sperate incidents. Of the number of spills recorded from
Shell – a company which operates in more than 100 countries – 40%
were in Nigeria.”
Environmental regulations which are common practice in
developed nations are often not followed due to their lack of
power, wealth and equity of the affected communities. As a result,
oil companies often evacuate inhabitants from their homelands,
further marginalizing them. The system of oil production in
Nigeria clearly is heavily skewed in favor of the multi-nationals
and government elites who are the direct recipients of oil
The oil industry in Nigeria has had a number of environmental
and socio-economic effects both in the regions where oil drilling
and shipping primarily take place, and in the larger country
itself. The current crisis is largely concentrated the
southwestern oil producing areas of Rivers, Cross River, and Delta.
These areas of the country have been severely damaged by
environmental pollution from oil spills, dumping of waste products,
burning of excess gases, pipe-line leaks, oil well blowouts, and
gas-flaring operations. One particular ethnic group in Nigeria,
the Ogonis, have organized and protested against both the Nigerian
federal government and Shell Oil, as the major oil producer in the
region. The Ogonis have charged that Shell Oil has consistently
damaged the local environment by: operating a number of off-shore
rigs and oil port facilities which have seriously damaged “the
tropical rain forest in the northern reaches of the Delta and
mangrove vegetation to the south” (Hutchful, 1985). These areas
are vital to the local fishing industry and other local industries.
As well, mangrove wood which is found in this area is used in
construction, and as firewood and charcoal (see Mangrove Case).
Shell is also being accused of engaging in “widespread
ecological disturbances, including explosions from seismic surveys,
pollution from pipe-line leaks, blowouts, drilling fluids and
refinery effluents, and land alienation and disruption of the
natural terrain from construction of industry infrastructure and
installations” (Ibid). For example, oil spill contamination of the
top soil has rendered the soil in the surrounding areas “unsuitable
for plant growth by reducing the availability of nutrients or by
increasing toxic contents in the soil” (Ibid). Gas flaring, on the
other hand, “has been associated with reduced crop yield and plant
growth on nearby farms, and disruption of wildlife in the immediate
vicinity” (Ibid). Shell and other oil companies have developed an
easy and inexpensive way to deal with by-products from oil
drilling: “indiscriminate dumping” (Ibid).
The Ogonis have been critical of the Nigerian Federal
government’s role in oil-exploration and drilling activities. For
example, the Federal government is responsible for issuing oil
mining and exploration leases; the government has issued such
leases for a large part of the land and offshore areas of Rivers
State. The government has done this as the sole administrator of
oil licensing through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
(NNPC) with no consultation with local government groups. The
Federal government has also been criticized for allowing the oil
companies to dump wastes in a manner that would be illegal in the
United States. For example, “U.S. environmental regulations
completely prohibit the discharge of produced water or drilling
muds from onshore facilities into surface-water bodies; produced
water has to be reinjected for recovery or injected into disposal
wells, while drilling muds are to be landfilled” (Nwankwo and
Irrechukwu, 1981). However, in Nigeria, oil companies often
dispose of wastes from oil drilling directly into fresh-water
bodies, or do not follow proper pollution-reducing techniques (see
Many Ogoni leaders have pointed to the nearly complete
devastation of the local economy due to socio-economic and
environmental disturbances from the oil industry. Although Shell
earns a considerable deal of money from its drilling in the Rivers
region, it has done little to nothing to reinvest a portion of its
profits back into the local communities where drilling takes place.
For example, in the Rivers region, “there is an almost total
absence of schools, good drinking water, electricity, medical care,
and roads in many peasant communities” (Hutchful, 1985).
Communication and transportation facilities for local villagers are
seriously limited. The Nigerian federal government is being
accused of diverting profits away from the oil producing regions to
other parts of the country.
Other critics charge that industry wastes from the oil
industry could be used to address, in part, infrastructural
deficiencies in the local communities. For example, the disposal
of gas from flaring “could constitute the basis for generating
power for urban and rural electrification” (Ibid). Other industry
wastes “could form the feedstock for the petrochemical industry,
such as plastics, synthetic fibers, detergents and solvents”
(Ibid). However, Shell and the other oil companies operating in
Nigeria “consider it cheaper to burn away the gases that could have
been used to give electric power and light to these villages”
The oil companies have also introduced major distortions into
the social and economic fabric of the local societies. Apart from
the destruction of local economic activities, Shell and other oil
companies have perpetuated “regional and class inequalities” by
creating “oil colonies” in local areas where oil executives live
quite lavishly in comparison to the impoverished conditions of the
local communities (Ibid). Because the oil industry requires
highly-skilled workers, local villagers are either forced to
migrate to the urban centers after being economically displaced, or
to become low-skilled workers dependent on the oil company. These
structural changes in the economic life of the local communities
has often “generated bitter conflict as the issue of employment and
participation in the oil industry” has divided different segments
of the communities, often along ethnic lines (Ibid). Other
structural effects of the oil industry are “rural depopulation,
disintegration of the peasantry, and urban marginalization” (Ibid).
The crisis over environmental pollution and economic
marginalization from the oil industry reached a peak in January
1993 when 300,000 Ogoni protested against Shell Oil. This
organized protest was followed by repeated harassment, arrests, and
killing of Ogonis by Federal government troops. Developments in
the Ogoni region have been documented by the Office of the General
Secretary, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)
from January 1993 through April 1994, and are as follows:
300,000 Ogoni protest against Shell Oil activities and the
environmental destruction of Ogoni land.
Shell International advisors meet with the Shell Petroleum
Development Company (SPDC) in London and the Hague to consider
strategies for countering the “possibility that internationally
organized protest could develop” over Shell’s activities in Ogoni.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, chairman of the resistance group “Movement for the
Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP),” is held by the Nigerian
State Security Service at Port Harcourt Airport for 16 hours
without charges, is released, but then arrested 5 days later.
Construction work on Shell’s Rumuekpe-Bomu Pipeline destroys
freshly planted Ogoni farmland sparking a peaceful demonstration of
approximately 10,000 Ogoni villagers. Nigerian Federal government
soldiers open fire on the crowd of demonstrators, wounding at least
Mass demonstrations along Bori Road against the pipeline
construction continue. Shell decides to withdraw American workers
Agbarator Otu is shot and killed by members of the Nigerian
military while protesting work on the pipeline at Nonwa.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa has his passport seized while trying to leave for
Amnesty International issues an Urgent Action concerning the extra
judicial killing of Mr. Otu and the Nigerian government’s use of
force against peaceful Ogoni protests.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa begins a European tour and succeeds in drawing
attention to the struggle of the Ogoni people. Shell responds to
the international attention and is ‘happy to discuss these matters
Presidential elections are boycotted by the Ogoni. A ruptured
pipeline begins to spray oil in Bunu Tai, Ogoni land. Forty days
later, the flow is yet to be stopped. Mr. Saro-Wiwa is prevented
from travelling to the UN conference in Vienna by Nigerian SSS, and
his passport is seized.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa and other MOSOP officials are arrested.
Ogoni people march in Bori, in protest against MOSOP arrests. In
reaction, Federal government soldiers are moved from Port Harcourt
and stationed in Bori. Indiscriminate beatings and arrests of
Ogoni people by ‘heavy[ily] armed and unfriendly Nigerian soldiers
and police’ are frequent.
Amnesty International issues a Fast Action concerning Mr. Saro-
July 9: At least 60 Ogoni people are killed by Andoni when
arriving back from the Cameroon Republic by boat. This ‘incident’
marks the beginning of Ogoni-Andoni violence.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa is moved to a hospital and later released on bail,
but charges still stand.
Kaa is the first village attacked in the Andoni-Ogoni conflict,
resulting in 33 deaths and 8,000 refugees. Over the coming months,
similar incidents occur in over 20 other villages. MOSOP accuses
Shell of being behind the Andoni-Ogoni violence.
MOSOP leaders are summoned to Abuja for a meeting with the Interim
government, installed by former head of state Babangida after the
annulment of the June 12 election results. This is the first time
that the Nigerian government officially discussed the situation in
Ogoniland with MOSOP.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa, Senator Birabi, and representatives of the Rivers
State Security Council visit the destroyed village of Kaa and urge
Governor Ada George to take measures to curb Andoni-Ogoni violence.
Meetings are arranged between Andoni and Ogoni leaders and
government representatives. This leads to the creation of a Peace
Committee, headed by Professor Claude Ake.
General Sani Abacha promises Mr. Saro-Wiwa that Federal troops will
be sent to Ogoniland to help curb Andoni-Ogoni violence.
A Peace Agreement is signed concerning the Ogoni-Andoni troubles,
but without the signature of Mr. Saro-Wiwa, or the ‘consultation of
the communities involved.’
An oil spill at Korokoro oil fields in Ogoni, operated by Shell.
Baritonle Kpormon is shot dead at a checkpoint in Bori by a Federal
soldier who has been sent to ensure peace at the Ogoni-Andoni
border; however Bori is not at the border. A MOSOP Steering
Committee meeting accepts the Peace Agreement but for two
paragraphs, and calls for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to be
installed by the Federal government.
Professor Ake, chairman of the Peace Conference, send a letter to
Governor Ada George, stating that he does not agree with the Peace
Agreement. According to him, it was drafted in haste and without
proper consultation of the communities involved.
Two fire trucks from SPDC are seized at Korokoro by local
Three Ogoni men are shot at Korokoro oil fields by Federal
government soldiers accompanying Shell workers who went back to
retrieve the fire trucks. One man dies (Uebari Nna), and two are
wounded (Pal Sunday and Mboo Ndike).
The interim government resigns. General Abacha becomes the new
Nigerian head of state.
Governor Ada George is replaced by Lt. Col. Dauda Komo. Violent
clashes between Ogoni and Okirika over crowded land at waterfronts,
Port Harcourt. Over 90 people are reported dead, many more
Probably to prevent the start of the Ogoni Week, MOSOP leaders Dr.
Owen Wiwa and Ledum Mitee, a lawyer, are arrested without being
charged. The Ogoni Assembly is dispersed by Nigerian soldiers.
Lt. Col. Komo states that Ogoni Week was aborted because MOSOP
didn’t apply for a permit.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa is placed under house arrest.
Dr. Owen Wiwa and Mr. Ledum are released and Mr. Saro-Wiwa’s house
arrest is lifted.
A seven member Commission of Inquiry is installed by the Rivers
State government to investigate Ogoni-Okirika clashes, and starts
public sittings in Port Harcourt.
A three-member ministerial team starts a two-day tour of Rivers
State to investigate the hostilities between the communities there,
as part of a general inquiry of community clashes. The Nigerian
government is especially worried about troubles in oil producing
A $500 million contract is signed in Port Harcourt between Shell
Nigeria and ABB Global Engineering UK, allowing the latter to
collect gas from 10 flow stations in Rivers State.
The three major oil companies in Port Harcourt estimate to have
lost over $200 million during 1993, due to ‘unfavorable conditions
in their areas of operation,’ and call for urgent measures to
combat the situation.
A small conflict between Ogoni and Okoloma leads to serious
clashes; Lt. Col. Komo is reported to have said that soldiers have
been directed to deal with aggressive communities, and if necessary
shoot trouble makers. Fifteen Ogoni people are arrested without
being charged, including Dr. Owen Wiwa.
Since this report was compiled, Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa, along with
eight other MOSOP members, were arrested and charged with the
murders of four traditional chiefs belonging to a pro-government
group in the Ogoni region. The murders occurred during a bloody
clash in May 1994 between Ogoni activists and Federal government
soldiers. On October 31, 1995, a federal military tribunal
convicted Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others of murder and
sentenced them to death. On November 10, 1995 Ken Saro-Wiwa,
Barinem Kiobel, John Kounien, Baribor Bera, Saturday Dobee, Felix
Nwate, Nordu Eawo, Paul Levura, and Daniel Bgokoo were hanged in
Port Harcourt by the Nigerian federal government. Reactions by the
international community were swift and included:
1. Protest marches at Nigerian embassies and Shell offices all
over the world;
2. Suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth of Britain (a
group comprising of Britain and its former colonies);
3. The withdrawal of ambassadors by several countries;
4. Calls for a multilateral oil embargo and other sanctions by
5. Plans for a United Nations General Assembly resolution
condemning the executions;
6. Protest actions by human rights groups such as Amnesty
International and environmental groups such as Greepeace;
7. Calls by the European Union to impose economic sanctions;
8. Imposition of a ban on arms sales to Nigeria by a number of
9. Protests in Nigeria by thousands of students and other
10. Under extreme pressure, the International Finance Corporation
cancels a proposed $100 million loan and $80 million equity deal to
Nigeria LNG, a company owned by the Nigerian government and the top
oil producers in Nigeria (Shell, Elf, and Agip), to produce a gas
plant and pipeline in the Niger delta.
Royal Dutch Shell, on the other hand, announced plans on November
16, 1995, just six days after the hangings, that they intend to
proceed with the $5 billion natural gas plant in Nigeria, despite
numerous protests by world leaders, including South Africa’s Nelson
Mandela. In mid-November 1995, Shell reiterated its belief that
sanctions would do more to hurt ordinary Nigerians and that the
country will benefit from the natural gas plant. Meanwhile, the
Nigerian government has defrayed all criticism by stating that the
executions were in the purview of the country’s domestic judicial
system, and therefore not in a position to be judged by the
The following is the closing statement of Ken Saro-Wiwa to the
We all stand before history. I am a man of peace, of ideas.
Appalled by the denigrating poverty of my people who live on a
richly endowed land, distressed by their political marginalization
and economic strangulation, angered by the devastation of their
land, their ultimate heritage, anxious to preserve their right to
life and to a decent living, and determined to usher to this
country as a whole a fair and just democratic system which protects
everyone and every ethnic group and gives us all a valid claim to
human civilization, I have devoted my intellectual and material
resources, my very life, to a cause in which I have total belief
and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated. I have no
doubt at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter the
trials and tribulations which I and those who believe with me may
encounter on our journey. Nor imprisonment nor death can stop our
I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my
colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial
and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be
holding a watching brief. The company has, indeed, ducked this
particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons
learnt here may prove useful to it for there is not doubt in my
mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the
Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes
of that war duly punished. The crime of the company’s dirty wars
against the Ogoni people will also be punished.
On trial also is the Nigerian nation, its present rulers and
those who assist them. Any nations which can do to the weak and
disadvantaged what the Nigerian nation has done to the Ogoni, loses
a claim to independence and to freedom from outside influence. I
am not one of those who why away from protesting injustice and
oppression, arguing that they are expected in a military regime.
The military do not act alone. They are supported by a gaggle of
politicians, lawyers, judges, academics, and businessmen, all of
them hiding under the claim that they are only doing their duty,
men and women too afraid to wash their pants of urine. We all
stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have denigrated our
country and jeopardized the future of our children. As we
subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards, as we lie
and cheat openly, as we protect injustice and oppression, we empty
our classrooms, denigrate our hospitals, fill our stomachs with
hunger and elect to make ourselves the slaves of those who ascribe
to higher standards, pursue the truth, and honor justice, freedom,
and hard work. I predict that the scene here will be played and
replayed by generations yet unborn.
Some have already cast themselves in the role of villains,
some are tragic victims, some still have a chance to redeem
themselves. The choice is for each individual. I predict that the
denouement of the riddle of the Niger delta will soon come. The
agenda is being set at this trial. Whether the peaceful ways I
have favored will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides,
what signals it sends out to the waiting public.
In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter
conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger
delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up
now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History
is on their side. God is on their side. For the Holy Quran says
in Sura 42, verse 41: “All those that fight when oppressed incur
no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor.” Come the day.
Ken Saro-Wiwa’s final words before he was hanged: “Lord take my
soul, but the struggle continues.”
3. Related Cases
(1) Trade Product: Oil
(2) Bio-geography: Tropical
(3) Environmental Problem: Pollution Land (POLL)
4. Draft Authors: Kerstin Moesinger and Amy Maglio
B. LEGAL CLUSTER
5. Discourse and Status: DISagreement and ALLEGAtion
6. Forum and Scope: NIGERia and UNILATeral
In 1993, Ken Saro-Wiwa, an Ogoni activist leader, sought
international support for their campaign against Shell.
“addressing the third General Assembly of the Unrepresented Nations
and People’s Organization (UNPO), Wiwa accused Shell of ‘waging an
ecological war against Ogoni’. Shell became alarmed over the
attention paid to the Ogoni’s plight. As a result, SPDC claims to
have a program which is improving Ogoni facilities, assessing
environmental performance and assisting the community in
infrastructure, health, agriculture and education.
7. Decision Breadth: 1 (NIGERia)
8. Legal Standing: NGO
C. GEOGRAPHIC FILTERS
9. Geographic Locations
a. Geographic Species Domain: AFRICA
b. Geographic Conflict Site: Western AFRICA (WAFR)
c. Geographic Impact: NIGERia
10. Sub-national Factors: Yes
11. Type of Habitat: TROPical Rainy Forest
D. TRADE FILTERS
12. Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard (REGSTD)
MOSOP and other Ogoni activists are calling for the Nigerian
Federal government to regulate the oil exploration, drilling, and
processing activities of Shell Oil and other oil manufacturers in
the oil producing regions of Nigeria. This includes enforcing
standards on the location of oil drills, the proper disposal of oil
wastes, and appropriate clean-up procedures in the event of spills.
MOSOP and other Ogoni activists are also asking that a larger share
of the profits from the oil industry be directed to the oil
producing regions of the country. MOSOP also wants local
government leaders to be included to a larger extent in the
planning and decision-making of future oil explorations and
expanded activities related to current oil drilling and processing.
13. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: DIRect
14. Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact
a. Directly Related: YES
b. Indirectly Related: NO
c. Not Related: NO
d. Process Related: YES
15. Trade Product
16. Economic Data
It is estimated that Nigeria earns over 90 percent of its
foreign exchange and over 80 percent of government revenues from
the petroleum industry. Nigeria produces approximately 1.9 million
barrels of oil per day (b/d), has a refining capacity of 433,250
barrels per calendar day (b/cd), and has 17.9 billion barrels (bbl)
in reserves. Foreign firms own up to 40 percent of the petroleum
agreements in Nigeria. AGIP, Texaco, Chevron, Mobil, and Shell
operated the majority of oil fields in Nigeria, with Shell
controlling over 50 percent of the domestic market. Nigeria has
earned a high of $30.85 per barrel in 1983 to a low of $15.88 in
1988. Today, Nigeria earns approximately $20.00 per barrel. The
oil shocks in the 1970s, and the resultant crash of global oil
prices, caused Nigerian oil revenues to drop from $22.4 billion in
1980 to $9.6 billion in 1983. Because of the role of the foreign
oil companies in the Nigerian oil industry, there are a large
number of foreign workers in the petroleum sector. Employment in
the sector is typically tied to high-skill workers with technical
Knowledge. The number of local residents who are employed in the
petroleum industry is limited when compared to other sectors of the
economy (e.g., agriculture). Although revenues from oil have
decreased, Nigeria still earns the majority of its foreign exchange
from the sale of oil, thus its importance to the national economy
cannot be stressed enough.
The oil industry employs only 5% of the labor force (as
opposed to 70% which agriculture once employed before the country
become a single commodity export economy with oil production).
17. Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness
Both Shell Oil and the other foreign oil companies operating
in Nigeria have argued to the Nigerian Federal government that any
attempt at regulating the petroleum industry will have a
detrimental impact both on company profits, but also on national
government revenues and local employment. Shell has argued that it
is in the national interest of Nigeria for the government to
support efforts at expanding current drilling operations and
promoting exploration and establishment of new oil-wells which will
contribute to the economic viability of Nigeria in the competitive
global oil market. Because the Nigerian government receives the
vast majority of its foreign exchange earnings from the sale of
oil, any restrictions on the oil producers or explorers could have
a negative impact on Nigeria’s economic earnings. For example,
even a slight reduction in current production levels could have a
large impact on the economy.
18. Industry Sector: PETROLeum
19. Exporter and Importer: NIGERia and USA
Total exports of Nigerian oil to the United States equalled $5
billion in 1992. Nigeria exports the remainder of its oil to
countries in the European Union, specifically Germany and England.
E. ENVIRONMENT CLUSTERS
20. Environmental Problem Type: SOURCE and SINK
The spills from oil, blowouts, gas flares, and other
disruptions have lead to bio-diversity loss (BIODIV), species loss
by land, air, and sea (SPLL, SPLA, SPLS), pollution of the land,
air, and sea (POLA, POLL, POLS), and waste in the form of drilling
mud and formation water (POLA, POLS).
21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species
a. Name: Many
b. Number: Many
c. Species Genera: Predominantly in Rivers State region
(1) Plants and animals located in the salt-water riverine
area immediately adjoining the coast where the Niger and its
tributaries flow into the sea; (2) fresh-water riverine further
22. Impact and Effect: HIGH and STRCT
The environmental problems in Nigeria surrounding the
extraction of oil are both a source and sink problem. Although
Nigeria has a heavy volume of oil reserve, there will eventually be
a limit to amount of oil that can be produced. The problems of
pollution that oil extraction causes is extensive. Pollution for
oil production causes soil erosion, ground water and marine area
contamination, air pollution and severe health problems for the
indigenous communities surrounding oil production.
23. Urgency and Lifetime: DECADES and DECADES
24. Substitutes: RECYC and CONSV
F. OTHER FACTORS
25. Culture: Yes
The Ogoni have a long history of preserving their environment,
which they regard as sacred: rivers and streams provide water for
bathing and fish for food, making their environment intricately
connected with communities way of life. The Ogoni, whose
population of 500,000 occupies 404 miles of Nigerian land,y once
made a living farming and fishing. For over 30 years Shell and
Chevron financed drilling on Ogoni land has increasingly pushed
them into the forests and mangrove swamps to survive. “Those who
remain in the townships and villages are subjected to displacement,
expropriation of their property, violence and rape. The Ogoni have
received virtually none of the $30 billion from oil pumped out of
their lands, and they have been actively demonstrating against
26. Human Rights: Yes
The Nigerian Federal government has been charged with
violating the human rights of Ogoni activists who have peacefully
protested against Shell Oil and other oil companies regarding their
oil drilling and exploration activities in the Delta region of
Nigeria. Several Ogoni protestors have been killed and numerous
others injured in attacks by government soldiers. Other Ogoni
activities charge that Shell Oil is responsible for instigating
clashes between different ethnic groups in the region.
27. Transboundary Issues: No
28. Relevant Literature
Aguiyi-Ironsi, Louisa, et al. “Nigeria: The Looming Shadow”.
Newswatch. July 18, 1988.
Amnesty International (press release). “Fear of Extrajudicial
Execution/Death Penalty.” UA 176/94. Index AFR 44/02/94. May
Amnesty International (press release). “Nigeria: Ken Saro-Wiwa,
Writer and President of the Movement for the Survival of the
Ogoni People”. Index AFR 44/03/94. May 22, 1994.
Amnesty International. 1994, June 24. Nigeria: Security forces
attack Ogoni villages.
Awobajo, S.A. 1981. An analysis of oil spill incidents in Nigeria:
Brooks, Geraldine. “Sick Alliances: Shell’s Nigerian Fields Produce
Few Benefits for Regions’s Villagers”. The Wall Street Journal.
Friday, May 6, 1994.
Duke, L. 1995, November 11. “Nigerian policy seen as a sign of
Failed S. African policy.” Washington Post.
Economist Intelligent Unit. Country Profile: Nigeria. v. 1993/1994,
Graf, William. The Nigerian State. (Portsmouth: Heineman). 1988.
Ikein, Augustine. The Impact of Oil on a Developing Country: The
Case of Nigeria. (New York: Praeger). 1990.
Hutchful, E. 1985. Oil companies and environmental pollution in
Nigeria. In Political economy of Nigeria, ed. Claude Ake. London:
Komisar, Lucy. “Pen Calls on Nigeria and Burma to Release
Imprisoned Writers: Ken Saro-Wiwa Fights His Government and Shell
Oil”. The Pen Newsletter. Winter 1995. Issue #86.
Mcgreal, C. 1995, November 17. “Generals shrug off sanctions.” The
Maduka, Ugwu. “Will Chaos in Lagos Send Oil Prices Sruring?’.
International Business, Business Week. August 22, 1994.
“Nigeria; Anybody Seen A Giant?”. The Economist. August 21, 1993.
Nigerian Environmental Study/Action Team, et al. The Path to
Sustainable Development in Nigeria: An NGO Report Prepared for the
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de
Janiero, Brazil. (London: NEST). 1991.
Nwankwo, J.N. and Irrechukwu, D.O. 1981. Problems of environmental
pollution and control in the petroleum industry: The Nigerian
Odogwu, E.C. 1981. Impact of environmental regulations on the
petroleum industry: Economic and social considerations.
Osaghae, E.E. 1995. “The Ogoni uprising: Oil, politics, minority
agitation, and the future of the Nigerian state.” African Affairs,
Rowell, Andrew. Shell Shocked: The Environmental and Social Cost of
Living with Shell in Nigeria (The Netherlands: Greenpeace
International). July, 1994.
Saro-Wiwa, K. 1995. “Notes from a gulag.” World Press Review,
“Shell’s game in Nigeria.” 1995, November 5. The Washington Post,
“The evil at the heart of Nigeria: Executed Nigerian writer Ken
Saro-Wiwa’s final interview epitomized his 20-year campaign.” 1995,
November 14. The Independent, 17.
“The Ogoni crisis: A case-study of military repression in
Southeastern Nigeria.” 1995. Human Rights Watch-Africa, 7(5).
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. 1994, June.
Background material on Ogoni.