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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Church Meeting, 2

Nigeria: Church Meeting, 2
Date distributed (ymd): 970102
Document reposted by WOA



For more information, contact Dr. Deborah Robinson, World Council of Churches, Unit III, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland; tel: +41-22-791-6111; fax: +41-22-791-0361; e-mail:

(continued from part 1)


At the outset of the deliberations, we reflected on the centrality of the church's role in achieving transformation in Nigeria. In a nation where many people are Christians, the church touches millions and is well placed to facilitate the quest for a new society. Indeed, the Church in Nigeria has the responsibility of bringing hope to a suffering people.

In addition, participants noted that the repression of the Ogoni people has been used by the Nigerian government to intimidate others struggling for justice. This terror needs to be countered by giving the Ogoni crisis special focus. The Ogoni struggle is a non-violent people's movement against powerful forces of repression, marginalization, and injustice.

Accordingly, the participants in the WCC International Strategy Meeting on Nigeria make recommendations for action to the following bodies:

Nigerian Churches and Church Institutions

  1. The Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other church groups are urged to support the Ogoni Council of Churches to strengthen its ministry.
  2. CAN/CCN is urged to make a public statement calling for the release of the Ogoni 19 and to use all available means to advance the cause of the Ogoni people.
  3. The CCN is encouraged to revive its activities in the field of peace, justice, and development and to work with existing human rights training and civic education programs, including those initiated by the Catholic Church.
  4. CCN/CAN and other Christian groups are encouraged to convene a workshop in Nigeria on the Church's role in societies in crisis, drawing upon the experience of the South Africa Council of Churches (SACC), the Institute of Contextual Theology, and the World Council of Churches' Urban Rural Mission, among others.
  5. Seminaries and theological colleges in Nigeria are encouraged to develop joint social justice/ethics curricula, with the assistance, if appropriate, of international ecumenical bodies.

The World Council of Churches

6. The WCC is asked to urge all member churches, regional ecumenical organizations, and national councils of churches to exert pressure upon the government of Nigeria:

7. a. to release the Ogoni 19 and all political detainees including Moshood K.O. Abiola, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Yar'adua, and Frank Kokori;

b. to withdraw all troops from Ogoniland and to disband the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force;

c. to guarantee basic human rights and the rule of law in Nigeria;

d. to abandon the illegitimate transition program and ensure a speedy return to civilian democratic rule, unhindered by the military; and

e. to release the bodies of the Ogoni 9 for proper burial and pay compensation to the families of the Ogoni 9 as recommended by the United Nations fact-finding mission.

8. The WCC is asked to urge all member churches, regional ecumenical organizations, and national councils of churches to divest their shares in Shell. This is a practical demonstration of solidarity with the Nigerian people as well as an option consistent with Christian ethics.

9. The WCC is asked to establish a Fund, supported by member churches and partners, for the defense and aid for all political detainees in Nigeria and their families.

10. The WCC is asked to include Nigerian church leaders and representatives from civil society in their delegations to the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. Materials for dissemination in these bodies should be prepared, the delegations should make appropriate interventions during these session, and briefings during the meetings should be organized. Members of the delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights should be supported to participate in training programmes on human rights.

11. The Executive Committee of the WCC, at its next meeting (February 1997), is urged:

  1. to view this programme of action on Nigeria as being an integral part of the WCC's Africa Programme;
  2. to make a commitment to support the people, churches, and movements in Nigeria; and
  3. to issue a statement on the human rights situation in Nigeria, in general, and the crisis in Ogoniland, in particular.
  4. The WCC is asked to ensure:
  5. that the work on Nigeria is taken up by all relevant Units of the WCC;
  6. that Unit IV of the WCC issues a special appeal to raise the funds necessary to provide adequate financial support to partners in Nigeria to enable them to implement the recommendations which pertain to them; and
  7. that a specific individual is appointed to monitor and facilitate the implementation of these recommendations.

WCC Member Churches and Partner Agencies

13. WCC member churches and ecumenical bodies are urged to convene meetings and develop specific strategies for national action. This is particularly important in countries with special relationships to Nigeria such as Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the USA. The aim of such campaigns should be to mobilize public opinion and government policy in support of Nigerian demands for democracy, human rights, and environmental protection. Such meetings should include key representatives of relevant church structures, resource people from organizations dealing with the crisis in Nigeria, and representatives of Nigerian groups confronting issues of repression, human rights, and social justice within the country. Member churches and partner agencies are strongly encouraged to provide resources to facilitate the building of these national advocacy campaigns.

14. As a part of these efforts, WCC member churches are asked to join with civil society organizations to plan specific campaigns focused on Shell. These should include calls for sanctions on Nigerian oil and divestment from Shell, as well as boycotts, legislative advocacy, demonstrations, etc. One of the key objectives of these campaigns should be to compel Shell to meet the demands of the people of the Niger Delta and to enter into dialogue with their legitimate representatives. To create the conditions necessary for this:

  1. Shell must use its influence with the Nigerian government to obtain the release of the Ogoni 19;
  2. Shell must intervene to secure the withdrawal of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force;
  3. Shell must insist that the Nigerian government guarantee freedom of movement and association in Ogoniland; and
  4. Shell must cease its attempts to coerce the Ogoni people to sign statements which invite Shell to return to Ogoniland.

When possible, it is suggested that activities be carried out in collaboration with groups affected by Shell operations in other parts of the world.

15. Recognizing the urgency of increasing the flow of timely information between Nigerian churches and human rights organizations and their international partners, WCC member churches and partner agencies are asked to provide assistance in establishing an effective communications network.

16. Relevant member churches of the WCC are encouraged to intensify advocacy work with the Secretariat of the Commonwealth and the European Union to ensure strict enforcement of all sanctions on Nigeria (arms bans, visa restrictions, sporting boycotts, etc.).

All Africa Conference of Churches

17. AACC is asked to distribute information on Nigeria to its member churches. AACC's capacity towards that end needs to be strengthened.

18. An AACC delegation is encouraged to visit the churches and representatives of civil society in Nigeria with a view to increasing the awareness of AACC member churches of the crisis in the country.

19. Nigerian churches and representatives of organizations both inside and outside Nigeria should be invited to attend the AACC International Affairs Board meeting in February 1997 to brief members on the situation in Nigeria.

20. The AACC is requested to make an intervention on Nigeria and include Nigerian church leaders and representatives from civil society in their delegation to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.

21. The AACC is requested to organize parallel meetings of NGOs during the June 1997 OAU meeting in Ethiopia in conjunction with other human rights organizations.

Reporting and follow-up

22. The participants at the International Strategy Meeting on Nigeria, as well as the church bodies who were specifically named above, are requested to send a report to the WCC by 1 April 1997 on the progress made in implementing these recommendations.

23. A subsequent strategy planning meeting on Nigeria is needed. This meeting should include an expanded number of partners from Nigeria and the international community. It should be held in conjunction with the NGO Forum that will take place during the 1997 OAU Summit. Recommendations from this meeting will be forwarded to the WCC Central Committee meeting in September 1997 for further action.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Washington Office on Africa (WOA), a not-for-profit church, trade union and civil rights group supported organization that works with Congress on Africa-related legislation. WOA's educational affiliate is the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC).

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