United Ijaw * Welcome to United Ijaw on the web. Our preference is national self determination, the independence of Ijawnation as a Sovereign State. A state that promotes sustainable economic and social development, democratic principles, liberty, free enterprise, equal rights and justice. This is our story, this is our struggle. **** On Kaiama Declaration We Stand **** United Nations Under Secretary-General, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, in Abuja condemned the theft of Nigeria's assets by past corrupt leaders. He said that kleptomaniac leaders stole more than 400 billion dollars from the Nigerian treasury between 1960 and 1999. **** IJAWNATION THINK! THINK. **** Almost $170 billion of the country’s wealth disappeared and ended in the private accounts of individuals between 1999 and 2003 alone... Priye Torulagha ****Nigeria has failed Niger Delta – Nnamani **** Resource Control: Niger-Delta governors are traitors – Evah **** Only the fear of a volcanic social eruption from below can stop barbaric behaviour by holders of political power – Gani Fawehinmi ***** “ if the Confab and Nigerians are not willing to heed to Resource Control, they will take it by force” - Oronto Douglas We Dare To Be Different.
Population: 14,833,421
Friday, August 4, 2000

Priye S. Torulagha  (Ph.D., MHR)

Is Africa Ready for the New Century?

The last 500 years, including the 20th century could be characterized as Africa's "Dark Ages"  This is when millions of Africans were traded as slaves, European powers colonized Africa and divided the continent into their agricultural and political plantations, two major world religions insatiably gobbled up the continent and thereby sowed the seeds of perpetual "holy war" conflicts, and Africans die like fleas in civil war conflicts.

It appears that the African political landscape will not change for the better in the 21st century.  This cynical view is compelled by the fact that the factors which led to the brutalities of the last century still remain and efforts have not been made to solve them.

Consequently, the preelection squatter-led violence in Zimbabwe is a tip of the iceberg of the many thorny political problems that would confront the continent in this century.  A review of the flashpoints would assist tremendously in comprehending the sad situation.

1.  Traditionally, land is considered to be a sacred property of the ancestors.  No African ethnic group can remain at peace without a clearly defined territorial land.  The colonial powers violated the sacred belief by recklessly drawing up territories that did not reflect the ethnicity of the African groups and distributed the land to nonindigenes.

Basically,  all the post-colonial African states, with the exception of Ethiopia, are artificial creations because they do not reflect the ethnic boundaries that existed before.  As a result, the Somalian people are divided into five states: Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and possibly Eritrea.  The Tutsi people are divided into Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Hausas are in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin, one way or another.  The Hutus are in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Congo people are divided into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Angola. The Tuaregs and the Fulanis are transnational and inhabit many African states. The list is endless.

2.  When an ethnic group is split into many supposedly sovereign states, the states become incapable of functioning as  sovereign entities because the ethnic group has a transnational impact on the them. Basically, the ethnic group is capable of marshalling political and military resources from all around to threaten any state that refuses to dance to its strategic interest.  In the Central African region, it can be said that Uganda, the two Congos, Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola are restless because the Tutsis seem to be on the march to consolidate Tutsidom. Somalia can't seems to experience peace because the conflict is reinforced by other Somali elements. Nigeria has been having problems with Chad, Niger, and the Cameroon because the ethnic groups are so related to the extent that a Chadian can easily become a Nigerian and a Nigerian can easily become a Chadian or a Nigerien or a Cameroonian.

3.  When groups are scatterred into different sovereign states, they can spread a conflict from one state to the others by both overt and covert means. The Liberian civil war spilled into Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone because the Liberian-based ethnic groups are related to or are an extension of the ethnic groups in those other countries.  The ethnic groups in Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Leone could not sit by while their cousins were being dealt a military blow.  The ongoing civil war in Sierra Leone is a direct product of the Liberian Civil War. In the Angolan civil war, some Congolese groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo support their cousins in Angola.  That is why Dr. Savimbi and the UNITA have been able to sustain the war for so long.

As soon as the other Tutsi groups realized that their cousins in the Congo were a major part of the resistance against the regime of President Kabila, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda joined the fray.  This then forced the Angolans to support Kabila.  Zimbabwe joined for ideological and economic reasons. Thus, the crisis in the Congo is an attempt by various ethnic groups and their foreign supporters to control the wealth of the Central African region.

4.  Due to lack of clearly drawn ethnically based territoital  boundaries,  African states are very suspicious of each other.  Ghana and the Ivory Coast are always wary of each other.  Ghana and Togo too are always suspcious of each other's motives.  Uganda and Sudan are like archenemies and the two use various ethnic and religious groups to instigate trouble in their backyards.  Once in a while, Senegal and Mauritania would get at each other's throat.  Egypt and Lybia were in a state of war for quite awhile because each accused the other of instigating terrorist incidents.  Chad and Libya have always been in a state of no war no peace.  Eritrea and Ethiopia are like lovers who hate each other so much and yet can't do without each other.

5.  Due to the mutual suspicion and uncertainties, post-colonial African states waste so much money trying to buy peace by investing so much on arms and internal security.  Thus, little effort is put into the scientific and technological development of the economies.  Security consciousness thwarts democratization of the political system because every utterance, action, or inclination by the opposition is considered to be a threat against the state.  This is why no African country can claim to be truly democratic.  Every election is rigged one way or another.

6.  The territotial contradictions create  perpetual distrust.  As the African states are distrustful of each other, they hope to strenghten themselves by aligning with their former colonial masters. Such reliance enables the former colonial powers to destabilize the continent by supporting destructive elements within the states.   

7.  The issue of land distribution has not been fully discussed.  The failure would eventually lead to major politcal crises in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and probably Namibia.  In these countries, the colonial authorities directly transferred lands from the indigenous ethnic groups to the white settlers.  The white settlers currently owned the most arable farmlands while most of the indigenous ethnic groups are trying to make do with little plots of land that are not very arable.  The other factor is that a few handful of whites have most of the farmlands while a majority of the black people have no lands or are barely making it.

Infact, one of the main reasons for the attempt to overthrow the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)was to retake the land.  However, the British and the United States intervened to end the war and hurriedly arranged to hand over power to Mr. Robert Mugabe and the Patriotic Front. While the political side of the equation was resolved, the land issue was not.  Many of the African fighters were disappointed that the land issue was not resolved.  The failure and the anger boiled over, hence, the squatter battalions have emerged.  Robert Mugabe became an opportunist and seized upon the anger to encourage the disillusioned supporters to grab farmlands from the white farmers.

In this issue, Mr. Mugabe should assume full responsibility for failing to do something about the land issue until election time in the year 2000.  He had 20 years to find an agreeable solution to the land problem but he did not.

The Zimbabwe experience should serve as a training lesson to the political authorities in the Republic of South Africa.  Many blacks are increasingly unhappy over the fact that apart from the political transfer of power, nothing else has happened.  Most arable lands still belong to the whites while a vast majority of the blacks have little or no land.  This is a respite for political cisis in the nearest future.

In both Zimbabwe and South Africa, well meaning blacks and whites should join forces and begin to seriously discuss ways of resolving the issue of land inequality.  Possibly, concerned citizens should call upon the United nations to get involved so that whatever arrangement agreed to can have an international support.  Perhaps, some kind of financial payment can be worked out so that land can be redistributed.   

8.  A major cancer that is going to tear away the African soul is religion.  In particular, Islam and Christianity are a major source of political conflict in Africa.  Although, Africa partially escaped the historical "holy war" conflicts between the two religions in the past, it can nolonger do so.  

Almost every post-colonial African state is divided into two. Quite often, the Northern half is Islamic and the Southern half is Christian.  These religions greatly challenge the sovereignity of the African states because they are transnational and receive their marching orders from foreign lands.  Nigeria is increasingly becoming like Sudan, Algeria, Egypt etc., because of the recent and continuing introduction of the Sharia by the Islamized Northern states.  The Southern states are reacting with threats of breaking away if necessary so as not to be Islamized.  The holy wars have just begun and they would not stop. Meanwhile, traditional African religion is still relegated to the dumpster even though it is the bedrock of the traditional African culture. In the future, there is a great possibility that the exponents of traditional religions will rise and challenge the authority of Islam and Christianity.

9.  African leaders create huge problems due to their unwillingness to depersonalize the leadership process. African rulers tend to act like monarchs even when they are not.  Whether by military or democratic means, when they get into power, they personalize the system by transferring the focus of citizens support from that of the state to themselves. Citizens  who support the state and not the leaders are punished. Likewise, any one who criticizes the leaders is regarded as a traitor or a nonpatriot.

10.  African leaders tend to confuse nation-building with tribalization.  Many of them attempts to develop the state by loading the government with people from their ethnic or regional areas.  By so doing, they unwittingly denationalize the system.  The marginalized groups then launch either separatist or irredentist military attacks to either change things or transfer power onto themselves.  This has been a major source of political destabilization and war. Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Togo, Chad, Cameroon, the two Congos, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Egypt, Liberia, Angola etc. have persistently suffered from inability to build a detribalized state system.

11.  African leaders gargantuanly contribute to the lack of political development by remaining in power for too long.  Whether by military or democratic means, they tend to promise one thing and do the other.  As soon as they become heads of state, they refuse to let go and remain in power until either they are kicked out or they die.  The unwillingness contributes to instability because it violates the constitutional process of an orderly change of power. African leaders are hypocritical because they promise to uphold the constitution and yet apply every unconstitutional tacitcs to remain in power in perpetuity.  For example, Robert Mugabe was a very popular African military hero but he has squandered that popularity by continuing to remain in power after 20 years.

For purpose of peace and stability, the following leaders need to voluntarily retire.  President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, President Muamar Ghaddafi of Libya, President Mubarak of Egypt, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, President Arap Moi of Kenya, President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, President Museveni of Uganda, President Eyadema of Togo, and a host of other African leaders who have remained in power for too long.

It is unfortunate that they are still in power whilethe United States has experienced numerous changes in leadership.  From 1979 to 2000, the US has had President Jimmy Carter, President Ronald Reagan, President George Bush, and President Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, in Kenya, Gabon, Egypt, Togo, Libya, etc. the same people continue to rule as if the states are their personal fiefdoms.

They need to retire so that power can be smoothly transferred to others in a peaceful and nonviolent manner.  On the other hand, leaders like Nelson Mandela of South Africa, the late Dr. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria (during military regime), the former President Leopold Senghor of Senegal etc. should be congratulated for voluntary vacation of office.  Leaders like Gen. Nimieri of Sudan, President/Gen. Siad Barre of Somalia, Gen Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Sani Abacha of Nigeria did everything possible to remain in power and ended up destabilizing their nation-states.


The 21st century will not result in any positive development for the continent unless some painful actions are taken to remedy the situation.

1.  Africans must become intellectually bolder and be willing to experiment politically. The tendency to adopt or borrow political, economic, military, legal and religious systems and ideas from the former colonial masters must be stopped.  Every new policy should be guided by the African condition, historical experiences, and cultural predispostion. For example, Nigeria is facing a religious crisis today because it did not make any effort to design a legal system that recognizes the triple heritage of the country. It ignored traditional and Islamic legal tenets and assumed that the Westernized and Judeo-Christianized secular system is sufficient enough to cater to all Nigerians.  Well, the chicken has come to roost.  The Moslems have decided to act on their own.    

2.  Africans must redefine their destiny. This meansthat Africa cannot accept the current international meaning of state sovereignity because the existing African states have territotial and structural problems that negate the application of such international law.  To solve this problem, African states must be willing to readjust or realign themselves.  Perhaps, Nkrumah's Pan African State system would be a better choice than the present state system.  A Pan-African model would entail having a continental congress in which the current states would become subregions.  The Europeans are heading in the continental direction as a means of eliminating ethnic and territorial conflicts. Libyan and Ghana areencouraging a continental union, as indicatred by the recent meeting inLibya. Nigeria is a little suspicous the Libyan role.  It should be recalled that Nigeria was also initally hesitant about the formation of the organization of African Unty.

3.  It is imperative that some territrories have to be redrawn so as to reflect the true character of African political divisions.  If there is anyway all the Tutsis can be put together in one state and all the Hutus put together in another, the better for Rwanda and Burundi.  Rwanda and Burundi can never experience peace unless a drastic step is taken to ameliorate the present condition.  If possible, Southern Sudan should become part of Uganda or become a separate state. Since the early 1960s, Sudan has engaged in a genocidal war to possibly Islamize the South or drive the ethnic groups out so that the resources there can be exploited.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU) seems unaware of the genocidal nature of the Sudanese civil war.

4.  African states should endeavor to promote traditional African religions.  The purpose is to reorientate peoples' attitude toward Islam and Christianity with the intent of minimizing the adoption of extreme views so that these two religions would not become a source of constant conflict.

5.  African states need to change their approach to economic development and economic relationships with the industrialized world.  The present economic system is exploitative and does not allow for genuine growth. Instead of putting so much emphasis on international economic relations, the strategy should be to build an intraAfrican system where those countries that are fairly advanced would help those that are less so. Likewise, raw materials should not be exported outside the continent until their utilization have been exhausted  within.  South Africa would be a focal point for the development of the industrial sector in the continent.

6.  The Organization of African Unity should develop an all-embracing constitutional framework that would guarante human rights to all Africans.  This would be a radical departure from the present OAU system that protects the states against their own citizens. Presently, the OAU cannot do anything when a leader unduely abuses the rights of his /her citizens. Even when millions of Africans are dying, the OAU still clings to the notion of noninterference.  By so doing, the leader is given a free hand to destroy and kill as much as he can.  An all-embracing constition would make it difficult for leaders to abuse citizens' rights because there will be a continental condemnation of the abusive behavior.  The European Union is adopting such methods in an effort to make sure that a dictatorial leader does not rise again in the continent as Hitler did.

7.  An African Court of International Justice is needed.  The states, ethnic groups and even individuals can go to this court to resolve legal issues.  Likewise, any leader who embezzles or greatly abuses the rights of citizens can be summoned to this court to answer charges.  This court will also serve as a political-tension-reliever in the sense that an aggrieved party can go there and take action.  For instance, Nigerian Moslems can go to this court an argue for the introduction of a legal system that reflects their religious heritage.  likewise, the people of the Niger Delta can go to this court and challenge the Nigerian government over revenue allocation.

8.  An African military High Command is needed to mobilize and coordinate African troops for peace keeping purposes in the continent.  So far, it is very shameful that whenever a crisis errupts in the continent, African states always wait helplessly for foreign powers to intervene.  Generally, by the the time the United Nations, the US, Britain, France, or Germany decide to intervene, it is already too late as thousands of  Africans might have already died.  Apart from the 2nd World War, no part of the world has experienced death and destruction as Africa.          
Currently, the life of an African is worth less than any animal in the game parks of Central, Eastern and Southern Africa.  Infact, the world discusses more ways of preserving the lives of animals than those of Africans.  

It is the responsibility of Africans to make things better for themselves.  The only way to make things better for Africans is for Africans to start cleaning up the house intellectually, politically, militarily, economically, socially, and religiously. Africans should stop imitaing and start being creative. Otherwise, Africa will continue to be in a state of political and economic purgatory with no hope of ever making it to the next stage of development.

Concerned Africans should join forces and petition Western governments to pass laws that will make it illegal for Western banks to legalize stolen public money. Of course, this is politically impossible since it is in the strategic interest of Western nations to use such stolen money to prop up their own economies. However, it is politically possible to pressure the Western banks from doing business with embezzlers from Africa and other developing countries. After all, under domestic law, anybody who receives a stolen money or goods is considerd to be an accomplice to the crime.  Logically, an effort could be made at the United Nations to pass an international law which penalizes any bank for receiving any stolen money, using the tenets of domestic law as the basis to justify it.

It is imperative that some drastic steps must be taken.  It is very shameful to realize that 40 years after independenc, most African states still beg for foreign aid.  Infact, it can be said that foreign aid is probably the only focus of African foreign policy. No wonder, Africa is a laughing stock of the world. Europeans, Asians, Americans etc. wonder why Africans cannot take care of themselves.

Friday, November 22, 2002

 Priye Torulagha, (Ph. D)

   Odi, The Niger Delta and Oil:  The Need for Legal Action

On the third anniversary of the invasion and destruction of Odi, it is now time for the Ijaws and other ethnic groups in the Niger Delta to change tactics and pursue the struggle for economic, environmental, and human rights through the courts, both in Nigeria and internationally.

In an article titled "Political Consolidation and Enhancement:  What the Ijaws must Do?" this writer suggested five strategic goals that the Ijaws should pursue.  The goals included (1)International Recognition, (2) National Involvement, (3)Regional Cooperation, (4)Internal Cohesion and Consolidation, and (5)leadership Recruitment and Enhancement.

Under strategic goal #1 (International Recognition, it was suggested that the Ijaws should work ceasely to publicize the struggle internationally.  In addition, it was suggested that the Ijaws should form a legal team whose duty would be to sue those who have violated their economic, environemtnal, and human rights.

Under strategic goal #2 (Regional Cooperation), the Ijaws were encouraged to form a regional alliance so that all the ethnic groups in the Niger Delta can work together to achieve the goals of the region.  In subsection A and B, the Ijaws were advised to work togehter instead of fighting indvidually to confront Nigerian security forces and the oil companies. Likewise, Ijaws, particularly the youths, were advised to change tactics: avoid militant confrontation and adopt political and legal means to tackle the problems.

Based on those strategic goals, it is now time for the Ijaws to take action and begin to initiate legal actions on all fronts, instead of just screaming and protesting.

There are possible five areas in which legal action can be initiated.  (1)A class action lawsuit for the destruction of Odi.  (2)A class action lawsuit by the Ijaws and the other ethnic groups  for human rights violations.  (3)  A class action lawsuit by the Ijaws and the other ethnic groups for economic discrimination and environmental destruction.  (4) A regional lawsuit involving the oil-producing states against the federal government of Nigeria demanding the return of a percentage of the total revenue that has been accumulated through oil exploration and production.  (5) A class action law suit by the Ijaws working alone or with the other ethnic groups to force Nigeria to withdraw its secuirty forces patrolling the oil flowstations and paltforms.

Lawsuit #1:  The Ijaws should immediately begin a class action lawsuit against the federal government of Nigeria for the destruction of Od.  This is a test case because the evidence is indisputable.  Moreover, the federal government continues to perpetrate suffering against the people of Odi by refusing to rehabilitate them through compensation and reconstruction after burning down their houses and rendering them homeless in their own territory.  The Odi suit will be followed by the Ikenyan and Opia suits.  It should be recalled that Chevron supplied helicopters to the Nigerian secuirty forces which launched destructive attacks against the two communities.

Mr. Oronto Douglas of the Environmental Rights Action (ERA)has decided to file charges on the Odi matter. This is a major step toward achieving political, economic, and environmental rights for the people of the Niger Delta.

Lawsuit #2:  Human Rights Violations.  The Ijaws and the other ethnic groups in the oil-producing states should file class action lawsuits, either on ethnic or group basis, for all the killings and destruction of property and the environment by Nigeria's security forces and the oil companies.

For the Ijaws, please refer to Mr. Felix Tuodolo's catalog of atrocities committed by Nigerian military and security forces In Ijawland titled THE IJAWS: VICTIMS OF OFFICIAL TERRORISM (Online: Ijawnation@yahoogrous.com.  Decemebr 3, 2000).

Other atrocities include the various pipeline explosions in Delta State.  In Jesse, over 700 people died. Egi and Choba have suffered brutal clamped downs by Nigeria's security forces.

The constant threat of military attacks whenever the indigenes of the region complain about life endangerment due to oil spillage.  Whenever there is an oil spillage, Nigeria responds by despatching security forces to protect the company property without doing anything to clean the oil mess.  This is a reckless violation of peoples right to live in a clean environment.  

The towns and communities which would be joined in this class suit includes Yenagoa, Ovu, Yenegwe, Ekeki,Opolo,Agudama, Kaiama,Sagbama, Patani, Aven, Bumodi, Ijaw women in Port Harcourt, Obama,Okigbene,Ferebaghagbene, viticms of Nembe waterfront, Ikebiri, Fish Town, Okokodiagbene, Benin River victims, Ogbeh-Ijoh waterfront victims, Okirika jetty,  Bonny, Finima, Oluashiri/Soku, NPA Warri, Obama, Akamabogu, Brass Okpoma, Liama, Etiama, Olugbobiri, Aleibiri, Foutoroghene, Tsekelewu, Ekulama, Eweleso, Bille, Epebu, Amabulu, Egi, Choba, Iko community in Akwa Ibom state, Arogbo, Escravos etc.

Tha above named communities suffered brutal deaths,  destruction of property, maiming, and raping of women and children.

The other ethnic groups too should enumerate their victimizations and prepare to take legal action to redress the abuses.

Law Suit #3:  Economic Discrimination and Marginalization and  Environmental Destruction.  The unrestrained activites of the oil companies in the Niger Delta have done innumerable damage to the economic wherewithal of the people.

Nigeria's policymakers and the oil companies have intentionally discriminated against the indigenes of the Niger Delta.  Oil company workers are largely recruited from the non-oil producing regions of the country so much so that unemployment among the youths of the Niger Delta is very high.  Even the National Youth Corps Service system is designed to shuffle out qualified indigenes of the region while shuffling in graduates from the non-oil producing regions to the Niger Delta.  The result is that Niger Delta graduates cannot get employment in the oil companies that operate in their backyards while others take the jobs. Discrimination is so pervasive to the extent that even the Delta Steel Company, located at Ovwian-Aladja, rarely hire indigenes of the neighborhood while Nigerians from other regions are hired indiscriminately.  This is what led to the demonstration at the DSC recently by about 4,000 women who want jobs for their husbands, sons,a nd duaghters. Their palcards read "Give our husbands jobs... No to Slavery"(Posted on Ijawnation, 2002, November 20).

Without jobs, the indigenes of the Niger Delta cannot accumulate sufficient wealth to build or create their own businesses.  In this regard, the people of the Niger Delta must challenge the awarding of oil exploration contracts to Nigerian businesses if the contractors do not include indigenes of the Niger Delta.  Contractors who do not come from the oil-producing areas would behave as colonizers and become reckless, thereby further destroying and polluting the environment.

The destruction of the environment through oil spillage and gas flaring is making it very hard for the indigenes of the Niger Delta to feed themselves. Before oil exploration became a major activity in the region, the people of the region were self-sufficient due to abundance of agricultural and marine products. Today, the Ijaws now buy "Iced Fish" even in their own towns and villages.  The Isokos used to be great farmers and the Uhrobos used to be great traders.
Thus, a class action suit should be filed to claim damages for economic and environmental destruction. The suit should compel Nigeria and the oil companies to institute very effective environmental programs to clean and rejuvenate the area. 

Suit #4:  A regional law suit involving the Ijaws and the oil-producing ethnic groups against the federal government of Nigeria should be instituted.  The law suit would demand that Nigeria pay back to the oil-producing region a percentage of the total revenue that has emanated from oil exploration and production because the region has been unjustly treated both politically and economically.  The money is needed to launch major development programs to rehabiliate the Niger Delta, both economically and environmentally. 

Another reason being that Nigeria treats the Niger Delta as an economic plantation and has not invested some of the revenue in the region.  In fact, Nigeria's attitude toward the region is not different from the attitude of the Royal Niger Company.  The Royal Niger Company carried out military operations to destroy indigenous economic activites while looting and consolidating its hold on the region.  Nigeria also carries out military operations in order to protect oil interests without caring a Kobo about the indegenes.  Evidently, Captain Awoyemi, the Commanding Officer (CO) of the Naval base NNS Umalokun, near Warri, should not be surprised that Niger Delta youths, particularly Ijaw youths, have been harassing and disarming military and police personnel who protects oil company properties(Obende, 2002, November 20).  The youths are extremely unhappy that Nigeria treats the region as a colonial possession.  Moreover, the fact that Nigeria protects foreign business interests against the interest of Nigerian citizens is particularly annoying.  The Navy can be a little more friendly by establishing environmental cleaning operations to clean up after any oil spillage.  Such a goodwill gesture can dramatically reduce tension. However, the military always tend to show up in the localities as a threatening force.  Captain Awoyemi, it would be also nice to see some of the oil money flowing back to the Niger Delta and not into foreign bank accounts.   Lastly, it is a pity that Captain Awoyemi is expected to solve a political problem in a military fashion.  It is not working, hence the frustration.

Thus, there is no difference between the Royal Niger Company and Nigeria.  Nigeria seems to be an extension of RNC in its destructive political, economic, and environmental policies toward the Niger Delta.

Law#5:suit   A regional lawsuit intended to force the federal government to remove its occupation forces from the Niger Delta.  The presence of Nigeria's military personnel in Ijawland is particularly insulting, since the main purpose of the security system is to protect the interests of the companies that are wrecking environmental havoc in Ijawland.   

In any case, since every ethnic group tends to work toward self-preservation, if a regional effort is not possible in any of these suits, then the Ijaws must pursue them by themselves.  The Ogonis have done an excellent job taking legal action in US courts.

As stated in the "Political Consolidation and Enhancement:  What the Ijaws Should do?", there are laws in the US which makes it possible to sue for claims under certain conditions.  The Alien Tort Claims Act allows US courts to hear cases involving human rights crimes committed outside the US.  The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act allows cases involving bribery and corruption to be tried in the US.  Likewise, the 1998 Rome Treaty which created the International Criminal Court can be used to try cases involving crimes against humanity(Lobe, 2002, march 19). 

In fact, the indigenes of the Niger Delta and the Nigerian masses can even sue Nigerian leaders and officials who have embezlled, if specific evidence can be gathered.  It is quite easy to demonstrate that a public official has embezzled.  The reason being that it is an internationally accepted code of official behavior that public officials are supposed not to engage in other business activities while they are serving as public officials.  Consequently, any Nigerian leader or official who has assets in excess of the value of his/her salary/benefits means that the person has embezzled public assets.  Moreover, any public official who becomes a millionaire means that the money is stolen.  

Since Nigerian leaders cannot explain why Nigerians continue to remain poor while billions of oil dollars have been earned by the country, the citizens have a right to compel the leaders through a class action lawsuit to explain what happens to their money.

The Ijaws and the other ethnic groups in the Niger Delta can seek the services of outside lawyers if Nigerian lawyers are not willing to take the cases. In particular, Mr Ed Fagan (an American lawyer) is very specialized in tackling cases involving human rights abuses.  He helped the vicitms of Nazi Holocaust to win a case against Swiss Banks who participated in exploiting the Jews.  He is now representing the victims of South African Apartheid system (Reynolds, 2002, June 17).  In the second South African case, many multinational companies including Texaco, Chevron, Exxon,/Mobil etc. are charged for making profits through apartheid.   Another prominent lawyer is Professor Dumisa Ntsebze who is working with Mr Fagan in the South African case(BBC News, Africa.2002, June 19).  In the case against Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Company, the families of the late Ken Saro Wiwa hired Richard Herz of EarthRights International, based in the U.S.(Lobe,2002, March 19).

Since Mr. Oronto Douglas has decided to pursue the Odi case, the other Ijaw organizations, including the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Council etc. should join the effort by gathering evidence from the victims.  Mr. Douglas can seek the assistance of other Nigerian lawyers who are committed to democracy and human rights.  Likewise, the assistance of international lawyers like Mr. Fagan should not be disregarded.  A legal action is much preferable at this juncture than militancy since such reactions can be equated with terrorism.  A legal action would inform everyone of the need to be socially responsible in their policies and actions.

In the United States, some states took a legal action against tobacco companies for producing and selling products that cause health problems.  The states sued to claim compensation for paying the cost of medical care to patients who suffered from smoking cigarettes. The government of Libya was sued for being responsible for the destruction and killing of passengers on PANAM Flight 103.  The United States settled financially for interning Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.  THe McDonald's (Hamburger) fast food chain is being sued by some of its consumers for producing fatty foods that cause many medical problems.  Thus, there is a legal precedent for filing class action lawsuits against governments, leaders, and companies who are not socially responsible.  Increasingly, there is a growing international movement to ensure that leaders and organizations are responsible for their actions. It is time for legal action to seek justice.


BBC News, Africa. (2002, June 19).  Apartheid victims file suit.  Online:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2054898.stm. 11/13/02.

________________ (2002, November 12).  Firms hit by second apartheid lawsuit.  Online:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2448123.stm. 11/13/02.

Lobe, J. (2002, March 6).  Nigerian lawsuit against Shell passes major test.  One World US. Online:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stry&cid=.  3/19/02.

Obende, J. (2002, November 20).  Youths stall peace moves in Warri, says Naal chief. Daily Times. Online.
http://www.dailytimesofnigeria.com/DailyTimes/2002/Novemebr12.  11/20/02.

Okafor, C. (2002, November 13).  Ijaw accuse Navy of raiding Delta community.  Online:
http://ngrguardiannews.com/news/article.  11/13/02.

Reynolds, P. (2002, June 17).  Legal maverick takes on apartheid.  BBC News, Africa. Online:
htpp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2049491.stm. 11/13/02

The Guardian.  (2002, November 11).  Delta Steel shut down as women protest neglect of communities.  Online:
Ijawnation@Ijawgroups.com.  11/20/02

Torulagha, P. (2002, October 18).  Political
consolidation and enhancement:what the Ijaws should do? Online:  Ijawnation@yahoogroups .com  10/18/02.

Tuodolo, F. (2001, December 3).  The Ijaws: vicitims of official terrorism. (An address presented at a memorial service of Ijaw heroes in London)Online:
Ijawnation@yahoogroups.com.  12/6/01.

Vanguard. (2002, November 20).  2,483
lives lost to Odi armed invasion.  Online:
http://usf105.mail.yahoo.com/ym.ShowLetter?Msgld=1243 11/20/02
Odi,The Niger Delta and Oil: The Need for Legal Action


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