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December 6, 1999


The ongoing assault by the Nigerian Armed Forces on citizens in the oil-bearing communities must be halted today. This is the demand of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and all peace-loving Nigerians. Peace must be allowed to reign through dialogue.

A despoiled environment is already a tragic environment. Life has become extremely brutish and the people live by their sheer determination in the face of devastating deprivation. The women and children of Odi could not be said to have fired shots at security personnel.

As at last Friday, reports have it that buildings at the outer fringes of Odi community were still being razed by armed personnel determined to erase Odi from the face of the earth. Odi has three capped oil wells owned by Shell. The Warri communities being currently ransacked all have Shell's oil wells.

Oil is the matter.

We note with regret the attack being launched on the Delta communities of Ogbogbene, Smoothgbene, Tenigbene, Sandfield, Mila Waterside and Makiva Waterside. The assault launched by about a 500 strong combined team of military and naval men from Warri since last Friday has spelt unmitigated woes on the people. At the last count, 10 persons were killed and 40 arrested. Persons who went to check up on the arrested persons reported seeing only 34 men and a woman. Where are the other 5 men?

The reason for these attacks was clearly spelt out by the Minister of Defence while he was addressing the ECOWAS. ministerial committee. At that briefing, the minister was reported to have said . This Operation HAKURI II, was initiated with the mandate of protecting lives and property. particularly oil platforms, flow stations, operating rig terminals and pipelines, refineries and power installations in the Niger Delta..

The oil multinational companies have repeatedly said that they do not work behind military shields. Now, who are the military intimidating and killing the local people for?

Nnimmo Bassey
For: ERA/FoE N