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