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The Environmental Rights Action(ERA) notes with deep concern, and regrets, the wasting of innocent lives in the inferno that engulfed the burst pipeline conveying fuel at Jesse, Ethiope Local government area of Delta State, killing over 400 people.

The current fuel crises which began from the Abacha regime has portrayed government as unwilling to tackle the problem with any real seriousness. The inaction of government has thrown Nigerians into untold hardship and fostered fuel hoarding, profiteering, black market, and illegal bunkering.

The fact that Nigeria is so rich in petroleum resources but her people have to sleep at filling stations ought to give a sensitive government sleepless nights. The Nigerian people have been dying slowly while a few persons are profiting from the disgraceful situation. General Abubakar must wake up to face this and other human tragedies that have befallen the Niger Delta in particular and Nigeria in general. We place the cause of these needless tragedies squarely at the doorstep of military government and the Oil Companies operating in Nigeria.


  • How could thousands of people "fetch fuel" from a burst pipeline without the notice of our ubiquitous law enforcement agents? Could the people not have been evacuated from the danger zone? What made the people run to this dangerous enterprise?
  • Could it be that the people saw it as the only way they could obtain a piece of the national cake?
  • Although the scramble for fuel by the people is condemnable, is it not these local people who always bear the brunt of environmental hazards but have little or nothing to show for so much wealth taken away from their soil?
  • For how long must the people be denied a say in how resources obtained from their backyards are utilized?
  1. A full and public inquiry must be instituted immediately to examine the remote and immediate causes of this ugly incident.
  2. The Niger Delta question must NOW be placed as a top priority for open and frank discussions with a view to finding and implementing real solutions to the crises.
  3. Steps must be taken to prevent a reoccurrence of this and similar incidents.
  4. The Oil Companies must be forced to change their ancient pipelines and conform to acceptable international oil field practices.
  5. The Jesse environment must be cleaned up and restored without delay.
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria identifies with the pains of the Jesse people and calls on the government as well as humanitarian agencies to come to the aid of the people. We note, however, that until the government takes a more diagnostic view of the problems of the Niger Delta, the volatile Niger Delta will continue to erupt in preventable disasters and the fragile ecosystem will continued to be devastated.
Nnimmo Bassey, Director
Uyi Ojo,Program Manager