We Dare To Be Different.
549 LEFFERTS AVENUE, BROOKLYN, NY 11225, USA
Phone & Fax: (718) 778-0536 Website: www.ijawfoundation.org
A non-profit organization established in 2003
It is now universal knowledge that the Ijaws and Nigeria are involved in a serious conflict that has been occasioned by the relentless ruthless oppression of the Ijaws by Nigeria.
The Ijaws are an extremely pacific and longsuffering nation of about fourteen million people who live in uniquely riverine communities that occupy the topographically unique Niger Delta, which is richly endowed with abundant crude oil, natural gas, a luxuriant tropical forest, marine resources and other invaluable natural resources. The Ijaws are the indigenous people of the Niger Delta and the Ijaw Country is the geographic True South of Nigeria.
Our nomenclature, Ijaw literally means Truth and we have a culture of love by which we show unsurpassable hospitality and kindness to our neighbours and visitors without prejudice to race, nationality, religion or any other status. Ironically, these endearing spiritual attributes render us vulnerable to oppression and exploitation by our fellow Nigerians and the trans-national oil corporations operating in Ijawland.
From the beginning, we have organized and governed ourselves in naturally sovereign kingdoms and City States; each of which is ruled by a King called Pere or Amanyanabo, and a Council of Elders and Chiefs who rise to leadership position by natural ascendancy. Prior to the forced amalgamation of the Ijaw Territory with neighbouring territories into present-day Nigeria, the Ijaw Kingdoms and City States signed various treaties with the adventurist British government as co-equal sovereign nations.
Nigeria is a failed State derived from a fraudulent contraption of our erstwhile colonial masters by the instrumentality of the forced amalgamation of 1914; patently unable to provide the barest minimum level of political, social and economic security for its citizens. It is an illegitimate State because the Apparatus of Governance has been perpetually hijacked by an evil clique of opportunists through the hegemony of the so-called three majority ethnic groups that has subverted the sovereignty and will of the people and ruthlessly oppressed and exploited the minority ethnic groups. The clique of opportunists has perpetually disenfranchised the Nigerian citizenry by using the security forces to rig elections massively and brazenly to perpetuate itself in power. The clique is lawless and unaccountable to the citizenry. These self-imposed rulers of Nigeria appropriate absolute power to themselves, loot the resources of the state, run the country as a criminal enterprise, murder political opponents to remain in power, and commit other atrocious violations of human rights.
The self-imposed Nigerian government exists and rules in flagrant violation of Article 21 Subsection (3) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that stipulates as follows: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures”. The Nigerian government is therefore illegitimate because it does not have the mandate of the people nor does it serve the interest of the Nigerian people.
Nigeria is sustained by the Ijaw wealth of Oil and gas, which accounts for about ninety (90%) of Nigeria’s revenue. Paradoxically, the Nigerian government refuses to provide roads, electricity, drinkable water, healthcare or quality education for the Ijaws while it provides such necessities for other Nigerians with proceeds from the Ijaw Oil Wealth. Furthermore, the Ijaws have been effectively robbed of their petroleum resources as the Nigerian State has given the ownership and control of the Ijaw resources to other Nigerians on a platter of gold to the total exclusion of the Ijaws by its brazenly unfair Oil Industry Privatization Scheme. While other Nigerians have become millionaires and billionaires by looting the proceeds from our Oil Wealth, we live in abject poverty.
THE IJAWS ARE VICTIMS OF DISCRIMINATION AND OPPRESSION
The General Olusegun Obasanjo-led government of Nigeria was severely indicted by the United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination at its sixty-seventh session (CERD/C/NGA/CO/18, November 2005) for failing to implement the 1997 General Recommendation 23 on the rights of indigenous peoples regarding ‘environmental racism’ and degradation. Paragraph 19 of the report of this UN Committee expressed grave concern regarding the adverse effect of oil exploration on the Niger Delta environment and held that the Petroleum Act of 1969 and the Land Use Decree of 1978 enacted to enable the government to expropriate the resources of the Niger Delta peoples are contrary to the provisions of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Minorities.
The committee recommended repeal of these offensive, oppressive and inhumane laws and reiterated “that along with the right to exploit natural resources there are specific, concomitant obligations towards the local population, including effective and meaningful consultation.”
The unbridled continuous exploitation of crude oil and natural gas beneath the farms, fisheries and houses of the Ijaws over the past forty years has caused indescribable and irredeemable environmental destruction and ecological devastation of Ijawland. There have been no countervailing environmental protection measures instituted by the Nigerian Government and the trans-national oil companies that principally benefit from the mining of these resources. Prior to the mining of crude oil and natural gas in Ijawland, there was abundance of fish in Ijawland and the Ijaws exported large quantities of fish. It is very sad, painful and unacceptable that the Ijaws now import fish to eat; because pollution by highly toxic hydrocarbons from continual oil spillages has caused the virtual extinction of fish in our rivers. These pollutants have also rendered our farmlands barren as well as made our waters poisonous, carcinogenic and undrinkable. The continuous flaring of gas in the Niger Delta, besides being a reckless and an unconscionable waste of this valuable natural resource, has severely poisoned the air we breathe and produces acid rain that is extremely hazardous to our health and ecosystem. The continuous destruction of our habitat and traditional means of subsistence by oil prospecting activities results in the progressive deterioration of the socio-economic conditions of our already utterly impoverished Ijaw people. Consequently, the survival of the Ijaw people is under serious threat especially in the face of episodic genocide committed against our people by the Nigerian State. Since we depend on the ecosystem for our survival, the wanton destruction of our ecosystem has made us to become highly endangered species of Homo sapiens.
IJAWS ARE TREATED AS NON-NIGERIANS OR COLONIAL SUBJECTS
In response to our peaceful agitation for fairness, equity and self-determination, the Nigerian government has inflicted an ever-intensifying Genocidal Reign of Terror on our defenceless people. In the last decade, members of the Nigerian Security Forces, acting at the behest of the Nigerian government, have wrongfully and needlessly murdered thousands of Ijaws, raided and burnt Ijaw towns and villages, cruelly tortured many of our people, imprisoned several Ijaw Rights Activists and raped numerous Ijaw women and children; in response to our legitimate demands for a halt to our oppression, the wanton destruction of our habitat and looting of our God-given wealth.
The genocides committed by the Nigerian State at Odi, Odioma, Kaiama, Ovu, Liama, Okpoama, Obioku, Yenagoa, Amarata, Ekeki, Opolo, Agudama, Epebu, Oluashiri, Okolobiri, Mbiama, Azuzuama, Ologoama, Oboro, Ogodobiri, Ojobo, Peretorugbene, Warri Corner, Okerenkoko, Torugbene, Ogbudugbudu, Ogulagha, Odimodi, Okigbene, Olugbobiri, Olugboboro, Ikebiri, Nembe, Twon, Ferebaghagbene, Opia, Ikenyan, Okokodiagbene, Ogbe-Ijo, Izon-Burutu, Ekeremor-Zion, Sagbama, Aven, Patani, Amabulu, Peremabiri, Obuama, Fish Town, Koluama, Okrika, Bonny, Ataba, Iyak, Omelema, Otari, Degema, Bakana, Kula, Soku, Elem-Sangama, Opobo, Abuloma, Amadi-ama, Bille, Belema, Buguma and numerous other Ijaw communities are proofs of the ruthless determination of the evil and ungrateful Nigerian State to oppress and kill us for our oil.
The Nigerian government has recently ordered gunboats from the United States to attack the Ijaws. Furthermore, it is aggressively sourcing supplies of weapons from China and elsewhere to further its war and genocide it is waging against the Ijaws to forcibly rob the Ijaws of their God-given Oil Wealth. Instead of engaging the Ijaws in dialogue to peacefully resolve the conflict, the Nigerian State has entered into alliance with foreign countries and foreign interests against the hapless Ijaw people. Instead of protecting the Ijaws as its own citizens, Nigeria is treating the Ijaws as foreigners, colonial subjects and enemies. Nigeria is determined to exterminate us.
NIGERIA HAS DESTROYED ITS BOND WITH THE IJAWS
A nation can only result from a free association of free individuals and free peoples who agree, by free will and not by coercion, to form a common country and a common government for the good of all. Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, in part, that: “No one may be compelled to belong to an association”.
Nigeria’s proven intent to exterminate us is an absolute contraindication for us to continue to be part of Nigeria! It is a very strong warning for us to part ways with Nigeria before it is too late. By its ungrateful and evil actions against the Ijaws, Nigeria has made its separation with the Ijaws inevitable.
The Ijaw Nation refuses to be part of a country whereby it is oppressed and marginalized by opportunists; whereby its developmental aspirations are subverted; whereby its resources are plundered; whereby its habitat is recklessly destroyed, and whereby its very survival is seriously threatened by ecocide and genocide.
We are slaves and hostages in our own land. However, by virtue of Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we cannot be forced to belong to the association called Nigeria.
THE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE
Our oppressors are the advocates of violence because they are using guns and violence, military force and genocide, to keep us oppressed. No Ijaw person would take a gun to fight if the oppressive Nigerian State does not use guns (military power) to repress us and deny us justice! A thief knows that it is wrong for him to take your personal property from you without your consent, and he knows that you will not allow him to do so, so he comes armed with a gun to coerce you to relinquish your property to him. Nigeria is committing armed robbery against the Ijaws. A thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Nigeria is stealing our resources, killing us, and destroying our habitat and means of livelihood. It is the most cruel irony of fate that our Ijaw people are being killed by Nigerian soldiers that are paid, clothed, fed, housed and armed with our Ijaw Oil Money; to enable the Nigerian government and the Oil Companies to plunder our resources and destroy our habitat. It is unacceptable that our God-given wealth has become our inexorable curse!
In the face of this intolerable oppression and proven intent and acts of the malevolent Nigerian state to exterminate the Ijaws to steal their oil wealth, the Ijaws have no choice but to exercise their legitimate Right to Self-Defense!
It is the Nigerian State that has made dialogue and peaceful resolution of the Niger Delta Conflict impossible; by militarizing Ijawland (occupying Ijawland with military troops), by ensuring that prominent Ijaws who speak up (Marshall Harry, Aminasori Dikibo, etc) are murdered as a warning to other Ijaws, and by locking up agitators for peaceful coexistence (Asari Dokubo and his Lawyer, Uche Okwukwu who are presently incarcerated). No Ijaw person will carry gun to fight the Nigerian State if Nigeria withdraws all its military forces of occupation in Ijawland and allows Ijaws to express their grievances without harassment and intimidation.
A self-imposed selfish, corrupt, dictatorial and unaccountable clique of opportunists rules Nigeria. Since these rulers do not need the mandate of Nigerians or Ijaws to rule, there is no political pressure or incentive for them to change the corrupt and unjust status quo that benefits them. The Niger Delta Conflict would therefore be kept aflame perpetually because the unjust status quo would continually evoke disenchantment amongst our people. This is the stark realty. The cause of the conflict is that the Nigerian State is robbing us of our resources and destroying our environment. Nigeria has the opportunity to destroy our environment and us simply because it has access to our lands and resources by virtue of our being part of Nigeria. This would be eliminated once we separate from Nigeria. Self-government for the Ijaws is therefore the solution to the Niger Delta Conflict. Freedom is the solution to oppression. Therefore, we hereby reassert the sovereignty of the Ijaw Nation that had always existed prior to our conscription into Nigeria by colonial Britain.
LEGITIMACY OF THE IJAW STRUGGLE: THE CONSCIENCE OF HUMANITY
The Right of the Ijaws to Freedom and Self-government is given absolute support and legitimacy by The Conscience of Humanity as expressed in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified and accented to on the16th of December 1966 by Resolution 2200A (XXI) of the General Assembly of the United Nations:
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
Furthermore, the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples re-affirms the Right of the Ijaws to Freedom and Self-government as follows:
Indigenous peoples have the right to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.
Indigenous individuals and peoples are free and equal to all other individuals and peoples in dignity and rights, and have the right to be free from any kind of adverse discrimination, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.
Indigenous peoples have the right of self- determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and to full guarantees against genocide or any other act of violence, including the removal of indigenous children from their families and communities under any pretext.
In addition, they have the individual rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities. Indigenous peoples who have been deprived of their means of subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair compensation.
Indigenous peoples have the right to own, develop, control and use the lands and territories, including the total environment of the lands, air, waters, coastal seas, sea-ice, flora and fauna and other resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. This includes the right to the full recognition of their laws, traditions and customs, land-tenure systems and institutions for the development and management of resources, and the right to effective measures by States to prevent any interference with, alienation of or encroachment upon these rights.
Indigenous peoples have the right to the restitution of the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, occupied, used or damaged without their free and informed consent. Where this is not possible, they have the right to just and fair compensation. Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources equal in quality, size and legal status.
Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation, restoration and protection of the total environment and the productive capacity of their lands, territories and resources, as well as to assistance for this purpose from States and through international cooperation. Military activities shall not take place in the lands and territories of indigenous peoples, unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned.
States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands and territories of indigenous peoples.
States shall also take effective measures to ensure, as needed, that programmes for monitoring, maintaining and restoring the health of indigenous peoples, as developed and implemented by the peoples affected by such materials, are duly implemented.
Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands, territories and other resources, including the right to require that States obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. Pursuant to agreement with the indigenous peoples concerned, just and fair compensation shall be provided for any such activities and measures taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
Indigenous peoples, as a specific form of exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, including culture, religion, education, information, media, health, housing, employment, social welfare, economic activities, land and resources management, environment and entry by non-members, as well as ways and means for financing these autonomous functions.
SACRED CUSTODIAL RESPONSIBILITY
It is our sacred custodial responsibility to ensure that the land God has given us is neither destroyed nor abused. At the minimum, we owe it to God and future Ijaw generations to preserve the fragile ecosystem and productivity of the Niger Delta that God lovingly provided for our sustenance. Furthermore, the pathological dependence of Nigeria on our “free” OIL WEALTH has engendered endemic corruption that has brought perpetual underdevelopment, poverty, destitution and misery to the Nigerian masses. As the rightful owners, it would be foolish and unpardonable for us to allow our resources to be wasted without any meaningful benefit. We must stop this plunder and profligacy!
THE IJAWS WANT PEACE
Oppression is enforced by violence and terror that rob its hapless victims of their peace. The Nigerian State has visited tremendous violence and terror upon us to subdue us to steal our resources. Nigeria’s military forces of occupation in Ijawland continually murder and maim us, and rape our women. The terror and violence have totally robbed us of our peace and security. This terror and violence must stop for us to regain our peace and security. We, the Ijaws, are therefore engaged in a noble and heroic Struggle for Peace by protesting against this horrendous violence and terror that have robbed us of our peace.
A BATTLE OF GOOD AGAINST EVIL
The loss of any Nigerian or Ijaw life is extremely painful to us because we hate violence and bloodshed. But the Nigerian State should know that the sleeping dog may lie no more. We only claim, demand and defend that which is rightly and justly ours. Our motivation is love, our passion is justice, and our goal is liberty and peace. We have shown remarkable restraint in the face of extreme provocation. While the evil and genocidal Nigerian military bombs sleeping Ijaw civilians in their villages, the Ijaws don’t even want to harm these same Nigerian troops! Our Fight is not against Nigeria or Nigerian soldiers but against evil and oppression!
This is a battle of good against evil. We are confident of the glorious triumph of good over evil! We are absolutely confident of our victory God has promised and decreed.
ALLIANCE FOR FREEDOM
Mankind has the innate desire to be free and it is innately human to resist oppression. We totally agree with the eloquent assertion by President George W. Bush of the United States in his 2005 State of the Union Address, that: “Freedom is not God’s gift to America but it is God’s gift to the world”! We are not alone in this struggle for freedom. We identify with all nations and peoples that have traveled this path in history. We identify with our brothers and sisters that overcame slavery, African-Americans that overcame racism, and black South Africans that overcame Apartheid. We identify with the United States, which fought its war of independence to free itself from British colonial subjugation. In his historic speech to his fellow Americans, the legendary Patrick Henry of blessed memory declared: “Give me liberty or give me death”! The United States of America was the torchbearer of liberty about two hundred and thirty years ago. Today, the Ijaws are proud to be the torchbearers of liberty.
It is a truism that oppression does not only violate the dignity of the oppressed but it also debases its perpetrators. Thus, we are also fighting for the dignity of our oppressors as we fight for ours. Above all, we are making our modest contribution to human progress.
We call on all champions and lovers of freedom, and indeed the entire world, to join the Alliance for Freedom and stand with us against oppression. We appeal to our fellow Nigerians to respect and support our right to self-determination because our freedom will also bring freedom and progress to them.
AGENDA FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT
Sovereignty belongs to the people. Accordingly, we shall conduct a Referendum on Self-government, as soon as possible, for our people to decide, by free voting, whether to remain in Nigeria or have self-government. We call on the United Nations to provide us technical assistance to conduct the referendum. We want a peaceful disengagement. We urge our fellow Nigerians and the Nigerian government to support our peaceful agenda for self-government. Let us be guided by this fact of history: when we make peaceful change impossible, we make violent change inevitable. To foster peace, and with brotherly love therefore, we urge the Nigerian government to withdraw all its military forces of occupation in the Niger Delta.
History also teaches us that where the relationship between groups of people is marred by injustice, disenchantment, animosity and rancour, disengagement or separation eliminates the acrimony and fosters a mutually beneficial relationship between the same groups. For example, the United States fought a bitter war to separate from Britain but has since remained Britain’s closest and most trusted ally! The Ijaw Nation looks forward to having a similar relationship with the remainder of Nigeria. Separation has become inevitable to eliminate oppression, suffering, animosity and violence so that we can forge a new relationship based on love.
Recognizing that it is the global protector of Human Rights and the guarantor of the Right to Self-determination to all peoples, and pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with particular reference to Article 1 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 1, 2, 3, 6, 21, 26, 27, 28, 30 and 31 of the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the fourteen (14) million Ijaw people of the Niger Delta hereby make a clarion call to the United Nations, as a matter of utmost urgency, to support the Ijaw Agenda for Self-government as follows:
1. Declare the Ijaw Region in Nigeria a Protectorate of the United Nations pending the completion of our transition to self-government.
2. Establish a United Nations Committee for Self-determination of the Ijaws to: (a) mediate our negotiations with the Nigerian State for our peaceful separation from Nigeria; (b) provide us with technical assistance to conduct our Referendum on Self-government; (c) oversee our transition to self-rule.
3. Grant the Ijaws representation as an OBSERVER NATION in the United Nations General Assembly (same status currently enjoyed by the Palestinians), pending our transition to self-rule.
4. Order the Nigerian government, by Security Council Resolution, to immediately withdraw all its military troops, submarines, gunboats and weaponry deployed to the Niger Delta to repress the Ijaws.
We call on the United Nations and all nations and all peoples of the world to show sincerity of purpose, forthrightness and integrity by acting in consonance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by supporting freedom and self-government for the Ijaw Nation. Let us all prove by our actions that we truly believe and uphold Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
Let us sow love and justice so that we may reap a harvest of peace and joy in the world.
GOD BLESS THE UNITED NATIONS AND ALL NATIONS OF THE WORLD.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA. GOD BLESS THE IJAW NATION.
Dr. Ebipamone N. Nanakumo
Chairman, Board of Directors
For and on behalf of the Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors and the Ijaw Agenda for Self-government Committee
The members of the Ijaw Agenda for Self-government Committee are as follows:
Ebipamone N. Nanakumo: Chairman, Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors
Aaron Nmungwun: Vice-Chairman, Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors
Dawari Longjohn: Treasurer, Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors
Rowland Ekperi: Member of Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors and President of the Ijaw Peoples Association of Great Britain and Ireland
Lincoln Snithers: Kalabari National Association
Ekiyor Akparede Edotimi: Director-General, Ijaw Institute of Strategic Studies
Peter Edu: Concerned Bayelsans USA
Titoe Miriki: Pro-Active Ijaw Laedership Council and United Ijaw States.com Editor