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October 16, 1998
Disprom: Felix Tuodolo

The killing of unarmed youths by men of the armed forces in oil related matters in the Niger Delta continue unabatedly. The oil-rich city of Warri in Delta State appears to be the focal point of such incidences. IN September of 1997, eighteen Mobile Police (MOPOL) officers on the orders of Harliburton (a contracting firm for Chevron Oil company) shot and killed one Gidikumo Sule at the Opuama flow station at Egbema in Warri LGA. While Gidikumo Sule was killed, several other youths were injured during a protest.

In July 1998, at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Warri, while Mobil (another Oil Company) was paying compensation to victims of the January 12, 1998 oil spill at Idoho platform, men of the MOPOL opened fire on the innocent and unarmed people. A youth was critically wounded and is still receiving treatment at a private clinic in Warri. Compensation payment has since been suspended.

On Tuesday 4/8/98, Dietsmann Nigeria Limited, the Nigerian partners of Diamond Drilling Company was carrying out offshore contract for Texaco Oil producing company. The youths in Warri had welcomed the contract given out by Texaco with the hope that they would be offered some jobs. A number of youth groups wrote letters from Ijaw, Urhobo and Itshekiri to the company. The management of Dietsmann Nigeria Limited invited them to a meeting on 4/8/98.

The youths gathered at the palace of the Ovie of Uvwie, HRH Chief Ehrokue 1, Warri for the meeting. From the palace, representatives were selected to negotiate on their behalf. Among those selected were Mr. Hendricks Opukeme (President, Ijaw National Youth Movement) and Mr. Paul Ibeyon (President, Uvwie community).

While the dialogue was taking place at another venue, the police suddenly arrived the palace led by the Divisional Police Officer of Ekpan Police Station Mr. Innocent Okafor. Mr. Dere Akere a youth leader, was informed by the police that they were invited by Dietsmann Nigeria Limited. According to him, ‘the police ordered all the youths to leave the area immediately or be shot." Before any one could utter a word, the police opened fire on us and one of us (Mr. Andrew Ofoni, a 20-year-old boy from Agoro community in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State ) fell. He died on the spot. We were all shocked because it was unwarranted. We were waiting peacefully for the outcome of the negotiation and what we got for being peaceful were

Mr. Hendrick Opukeme, President of the Ijaw National Youth Movement, of which Mr. Ofoni was is embittered. ‘The company, Dietsmann Nigeria Limited. ordered the shooting by the police", he says. "They invited the police when there was no provocation from any quarter. They invited us for negotiation at the Uvwie palace and we went only to be killed. The Divisional police Officer, Mr. Okafor should also be tried for asking his men to shoot and for allowing himself to be used by the company. It is so painful’.

Meanwhile, Mr. Andrew Ofoni was been buried at his hometown Agoro on August 19, 1998. Dietsmann Nigeria Limited paid the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand naira (N250, 000.00 or USD 3000.00) for the burial expenses of Mr. Andrew Ofoni, and a total of one million four hundred naira (N1.4m or USD 16,500.00) to the family.