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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: Ogoni Repression Alert

Nigeria: Ogoni Repression Alert
Date distributed (ymd): 980119
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains a press release from the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People concerning the most recent military crack down on activists in the Ogoni area, and notes on needed actions taken from the shell-nigeria-action listserv. It also contains a note on a recent special report on Nigeria from the US Institute of Peace.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) International secretariat: Suite 5, 3 - 4 Albion Place, Galena Road, London W6 0LT, United Kingdom. Tel. (+44) (0)181 563 8614 Fax. (+44) (0)181 563 8615 e-mail: mosop@gn.apc.org

Distributed by DELTA: News and background on Ogoni, Shell and Nigeria, Box Z, 13 Biddulph Street, Leicester LE2 1BH, UK tel/fax: +44 116 255 3223 e-mail: lynx@gn.apc.org web: www.oneworld.org/delta

PRESS RELEASE JANUARY 12th 1998

MOSOP CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION

FREE BATOM MITEE & VICTIMS OF THE MILITARY CRACK DOWN IN OGONI

MOSOP condemns the brutal actions of the occupying Rivers State Internal Security Task Force (RVISTF), intended to suppress peaceful protest on Ogoni national day, January 4th 1998.

In the wake of a crackdown on MOSOP activists, human rights violations and criminal acts continue to be committed through out the region.

There are currently at least 38 named Ogoni detainees being held without charge. At least 9 others are being held at this time*.

Additionally, on January 6th security agents arrested two non-Ogoni at Port Harcourt in relation to the crack down:

  • human rights activist Anyakwee Nsirimovu - executive director of The Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
  • the journalist Tokunbo Awosik.

No reasons were given for their arrests. However, MOSOP believes that reports they published on the crack down led directly to their detention.

MOSOP demands their immediate release, and that urgent medical attention is afforded to all the victims of these acts of state terror.

Since the crack down began on December 16th, the occupying RVISTF has been carrying out a deliberate and systematic terror campaign against perceived MOSOP activists and ordinary Ogoni protesters alike.

Arrests and detention without charge, beatings, acts of torture, rape, theft, vandalism against places of worship, and armed assaults on peaceful Ogoni demonstrators have been carried out in order to intimidate the Ogoni people and quell legitimate acts of protest [see `Diary of the crackdown' attached].

Of immediate and serious concern to MOSOP is the condition in detention of Batom Mitee and others. Mitee is the younger brother of Ledum Mitee, the Acting President of MOSOP [see `Biography of Batom Mitee' attached].

  • On Saturday January 3rd in Bori, Port Harcourt (the main city in Ogoni) - at approximately 4.00 p.m. Nigerian time - RVISTF troops led by Major Obi Umahi cordoned off the Klymax hotel, owned by Batom. Armed RVISTF troops in a patrol vehicle were deployed at the hotel entrance.
  • At approximately 5.00 p.m. Nigerian time, 20 people, including Batom Mitee, were arrested without charge. Batom Mitee's car was also vandalised and impounded.
  • An eye witness to the detention and torture of Batom Mitee and Tombari Gioro reports that they were tied to an electric pole and beaten for several hours with rifle butts and electric cables.
  • On January 6th a MOSOP eye witness confirmed that the torture of Batom Mitee was continuing that day. Mitee has been stripped naked in his cell. He is bleeding profusely from injuries sustained under torture, has severe swellings and bruising, and is weak and unable to speak. He is being denied food and medical attention. The witness has expressed fears that both Batom Mitee and Tombari Gior o may not survive, unless they receive prompt medical attention.

The crack down is clearly intended to be an attack on the MOSOP leadership:

  • On Wednesday January 7th - at approximately 2.50 p.m. Nigerian time - at Nkpogu village, Port Harcourt, the private residence of Acting MOSOP President Ledum Mittee was raided by troops under the direct command of Major Obi Umahi and Mobile Police Superintendent Habila. Acts of vandalism and theft were committed, including the theft of Ledum Mitee's personal property and photos of his family.
  • Shortly afterwards the private residence of Batom Mitee was raided and vandalised by RVISTF soldiers. Again, documents were removed along with money and Batom's personal property, much of which was destroyed.
  • Following this, the RVISTF troops proceeded to Batom's Klymax restaurant on Ede Street, Ogbunabali. Mr. Barinyima Bubu, an attendant at the restaurant, was assaulted and forced to close down the property for business. * The Mitee family home at Kegbara Dere, Gokana was attacked the same evening. The Mitee's mother, Mrs. Lydia Mitee has now been hospitalised as a direct result of the raids. * Previously, on Sunday January 4th at Bori - at approximately 8.00 a.m. Nigerian time - Batom's Klymax hotel was raided. - A member of the hotel staff, 16 year old Miss Perfect Kagbara was raped by RVISTF troops. She sustained injuries and was tortured resisting the assault - According to eye witnesses, a female guest was also raped by RVISTF troops - The hotel was looted, the RVISTF making off with approximately N75 000.00 worth of goods - Hand grenades were used inside the hotel - Subsequently, Saturday Zorasi was arrested, tortured and also detained with Batom Mitee, while attempting to send food to him in detention. * Also on Sunday January 4th the home of Fegalo Mitee (elder brother of Ledum Mitee) - who now lives in exile in the USA - was looted of property. Many other serious human rights violations were committed in the run up to the Ogoni Day crack down [see `Diary of the crackdown' attached].

MOSOP is receiving reports that the wave of mass arrests and incidents of torture, other human rights violations and criminal acts continues throughout Ogoni. Speaking from London - the movement's base of operations in exile, MOSOP's acting President, Mr. Ledum Mitee commented on the crack down: "By these unprovoked acts of violence, the dictatorship has once again demonstrated to the world that it must resort to acts of terrorism to suppress our freedom campaign. This is not only meant as a warning to the Ogoni people. It is a warning to our compatriots in the Niger Delta and through out Nigeria: minority people's enduring the same iniquities we suffer at the hands of international oil companies such as Shell, acting in collusion with the military. It is a warning to Nigerian democrats everywhere. The warning is this: 'In Nigeria, it is cheaper to bury the environmentalists and democrats than the oil pipelines. Civilised values, civil society and international standards of human rights and good government have no place in our Nigeria, Stay quiet'.

MOSOP calls on our supporters world-wide and the international community to urge the Nigerian authorities to allow the United Nations' Special Rappoteur for Human Rights immediate access to Ogoni to investigate these crimes. Shell has claimed for some time that it wishes to demonstrate a commitment to human rights. The time for fine sounding words and statements of principle is over. MOSOP calls for a public intervention by Shell to secure the release of all the Ogoni detainees from this crack down, and to openly call for the end of the military occupation of Ogoni. We remember the last words of our late President Ken Saro-Wiwa: "Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues". Our struggle for Ogoni survival, for a new Nigeria continues undaunted. While agents of the state act like terrorists, MOSOP activists continue to act as peaceful democrats".

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Diary of the Ogoni day 1998 crack down.

A security crackdown on, intended to forestall the celebration of Ogoni Day on January 4th, began on December 16th.

  • In Lewe, in Gokana Council area, RVISTF raids resulted in the arrests of 5 people.
  • At approximately 2.00 a.m. Nigerian time, Major Obi Umahi led a RVISTF raid on Bo-ue, in Babbe area of Ogoni, arresting and detaining 12 people at Bori camp and Kpor Detention Centres on charges of holding nocturnal meetings in preparation for Ogoni Day.
  • On December 21st a bus driver, Mr Kpodilo Gberekpe, was arrested and tortured by RVISTF. The crack down intensified on Ogoni Day, Sunday January 4th:
  • At Bori - at approximately 9.00 a.m. Nigerian time - RVISTF soldiers on patrol confronted an unidentified woman carrying a MOSOP banner. She was tortured until she became unconscious. She was arrested and detained, despite being unconscious.
  • In Bori, on the road opposite Birabi Memorial Grammar School, troops fired live ammunition in to a crowd of peaceful protesters. Reports confirm that the body of Mrs. Beatrice Nwikpasi was carried away to an unknown destination by RVISTF troops.
  • Also in Bori the congregation at the Assemblies of God Church, was fired on with live ammunition by RVISTF troops and dispersed.
  • In Bo-ue, the congregation at the Assemblies of God Church Mission was dispersed by RVISTF troops. The RVISTF also vandalised the Church building and contents, including musical instruments.
  • A funeral gathering at Kaani was dispersed by RVISTF troops. The Chief mourner, Mr. Eebu Nkeh was arrested, despite having obtained police permission for the occasion. * Early on Sunday the villages of K. Dere, Zaakpon and Uegure were raided by RVISTF troops and the villagers driven into the bush with gun shots.
  • The crack down continues. On Tuesday January 6th, MOSOP received confirmation of 6 more arrests in Kegbara Dere, Gokana (home town of the Mitee family) and 8 arrests in Kaani, Khana LGA (local government area).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Biography of Batom Mitee.

Batom was born on the 7th of May 1959 at Kegbara Dere (K.Dere) in the Gokana Local Council Area of Ogoni, where he also attended Elementary School. His secondary education was at St. Pius X College Bodo and from there he proceeded to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt where he graduated in Estate Management. In his university days, Batom was a student activist and was the secretary General of the National Union of Rivers State Students. After his national service, he worked first in the private Estate Management firm of Ofoma and Associates, then at the Rivers State Housing Authority as Estate Manager and subsequently as a manager in Coastal Building Society in Port Harcourt. From this he went to set up his private hotel and catering business, owning the Klymax Hotels and Restaurants in Port Harcourt and Bori. Batom is easily one of the most frequently arrested and detained Ogoni activists, having been previously detained four times in 1994, twice in 1995, and twice in 1996.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

List of Ogoni detainees from Ogoni Day 1998 crack down.

There are currently at least 38 named Ogoni detainees being held without charge. At least 9 others are known to be held at this time.

  • Ogoni arrested and detained at Boue on December 16th are: 1 Daniel I-ana 2 Pianee Ipaa 3 Legborsi Borlo 4 Bookpugi lsoo 5 Fine Deele 6 Lucky Deele 7 Ledornu Deekor 8 Clement Deezua 9 Daniel Nador 10 Mene Deezua 11 Elder Joseph T. Oodee 12 Chief Innocent Nador
  • All those detained at Boue were released on January 5th, apparently to make room for the new detainees except for Chief Innocent Nador.
  • Those Ogoni arrested detained over the weekend of January 3rd - 4th is confirmed as:

1 Batom Mitee 2 Tony Vido 3 Perfect Kagbara 4 Ms. Mary Sunday 5 Lemea Baridom 6 Ms. Lovina Meezua 7 Gordon Nwilenee 8 Nwisaa Kpoodum 9 Bealo Menedube 10 Lionel Dimkpa 11 Joseph Kposi 12 Ms. Grace Lueba 13 Baridura Biradee 14 Saturday Zorari 15 Loveday Victor 16 Friday Nkee List of Ogoni detainees from Ogoni Day 1998 crack down. 17 Peter Opnu 18 Ms. Mary Lekara 19 Leyiradee Yorneenwa 19 Eebu Nkeh 20 Nde Peeyor 22 Kanee Ndee 23 Gebengbara Kowe 24 Kpugilee Ngbene 25 Zorte Nkara 26 Pe-Ue Nkeeh 27 Alee Teyor 28 Nwile Kpurugbara 29 Sunday Dookoo 30 Tombari Gioro

  • Tony Vido, Levine Meezue, and Grace Lueba have been released, following the payment of extortion money to the RVISTF.
  • Ogoni arrested and detained on January 6th at Kegbara Dere, Gokana are: 1 Barinaadaa Ganago 2 Kanaabola Ganago 3 Ledisi Pkakol 4 Joseph Tombari 5 Barinyima Lemea 6 Dumbari Biradee
  • Confirmed names of Ogoni arrested and detained on January 6h at Kaani, Khana are: 1 Nwipugi Duebe 2 Court Ikpogbara 3 Charity Nwinue 4 Dumbe Nwinsua
  • 4 others were also arrested and detained.
  • 5 Ogoni were arrested and detained on January 5th at Bo-ue.


Additonal Notes:

(1) On 16 January Amnesty International released an urgent action (UA 16/98) on the Ogoni prisoners. Its recommended action: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in English or your own language:

  • expressing concern at reports of the arrests of Batom Mitee, Tombari Gioro and some 30 members of the Ogoni community to prevent them participating in non-violent political activities on Ogoni Day;
  • expressing particular concern at the reports of torture or ill-treatment, including rape, of detainees, and that Batom Mitee and Tombari Gioro have been denied food and medical care after being severely beaten;
  • seeking assurances that any people still held will be immediately safeguarded from further torture or ill-treatment and given access to their lawyers and families and to appropriate medical care of their own choice;
  • calling for the immediate and unconditional release of any detainees still held, whom Amnesty International considers to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely on account of their non-violent political activities.

Amnesty suggests appeals to (1) General Sani Abacha [Salutation: Dear General], Chairman, Provisional Ruling Council State House, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria Faxes: c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs +234-9-523 0394 / 0210 Telegrams: General Abacha, Abuja, Nigeria (2) other Nigerian officials (see full list in the alert, on-line at http://www.essential.org/listproc/shell-nigeria-action /msg00471.html), or write to Chris Usher (chrisusher@gn.apc.org) or Ray Mitchell/Becky Hess (Amnesty International UK Section, 99 - 119 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4RE email: ua@amnesty.org.uk) for more details.

Amnesty International has also released two other recent alerts on Nigeria:

(a) UA 406/97 (22 December 1997), concerning 12 senior armed forces officers and one civilian arrested for an alleged coup plot. Those arrested include Lieutenant-General D. Oladipo Diya, the Vice-Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council.

(b) UA 13/98 (15 January 1998), concerning Chima Ubani, Secretary General of the Democratic Alternative and National Secretary of the United Action for Democracy, an umbrella grouping of pro-democracy and human rights organizations, arrested on 14 January by the Special Security Services.

For more information contact afr-west@amnesty.org

(2) Dr. Deborah Robinson, author of the World Council of Churches report on Ogoni
(http://www.africafocus.org/docs97/ogon9703.php), calls for faxed letters to Shell executives and the Nigerian Ambassador in Washington:

Mr. Philip J. Carroll, CEO (for those in the U.S.), Shell Oil P.O. Box 2463, Houston TX 77252, (800) 248-4257 phone, (713) 241-4044 fax

Mr. C.A.J. Herkstroter (for those outside the U.S.), Chairman of the Board & President, World Dutch Shell Group, Carel Van Bylandtlaan, 16, 2596 HR Hague, Netherlands, +31 70 377-9111 phone, +31 70 377-4848 fax

Ambassador Wakili Hassan Adamu, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1333 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036 (202) 986-8400 phone, (202) 775-1385 fax

For more information, including suggested points, see
http://www.essential.org/listproc/shell-nigeria-action/msg00468.html or write Dr. Deborah Robinson (drdrobinson@sprynet.com).

(3) A special report by the US Institute of Peace, "Can Nigeria Make a Peaceful Transition to Democratic Governance," was released in December, based on a roundtable conference with 65 participants in October.
Among its findings:

"Unless it is modified, the current 'transition'--decreed by the military regime--is so seriously flawed that it is not credible or legitimate."

"Diplomatic dialogue and engagement are not sufficient to achieve significant change in Ngieria."

"In addition to current restrictions on travel and military assistance, new sanctions should include freezing the foreign accounts of Nigerian leaders. An embargo on sales of Nigerian petroleum, on the other hand, would be very difficult to implement and unlikely to be effective."

For the full report (31K), see:
http://www.usip.org/oc/sr/NigeriaReport.html


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups individuals.


URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs98/ogon9801.php