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The Jehoshua Novels


Nigerian Oil Delta Rebels Say 'War' Starts Oct 1

Originally posted September 27 10:31 p.m. edt

Nigerian Oil Delta Rebels Say ‘War’ Starts Oct 1
Tom Ashby | Lagos | September 27

Reuters –  The Nigerian rebel group fighting government troops in the oil-rich Niger delta said on Monday it will launch “all-out war on the Nigerian state” from Oct. 1 and advised all oil companies to shut production by then.

Update: A militia leader who threatened war in the Niger Delta has agreed to a tentative deal to disarm his fighters, but he said he would keep up a political struggle for regional autonomy and a greater share of oil wealth.

Background for this update is in the comments. jnh.

The Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, in a communique issued after a meeting of its central command, also advised all foreigners to leave the delta, which pumps all of Nigeria’s 2.3 million barrels per day production.

background- Nigeria Compilation Thread thread- most recent are on the oil region

The rebel group’s leader, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, accused Royal Dutch Shell, Nigeria’s largest oil producer, and Italy’s Agip, a unit of ENI, of “collaboration with the Nigerian state in acts of genocide against our people.”

Asari said his group would not attack oil installations because it did not want to pollute the delta environment, but foreign oil workers would be targeted.

In New York, crude oil futures jumped 36 cents in electronic trading to the $50 a barrel level, the highest in the 21 years oil futures have traded on the exchange following the announcement from the group.

“Operation Locust Feast will commence on Oct. 1 marking the 44 years of dubious independence of the Nigerian state,” Asari quoted the communique from the group as saying.

The offensive will continue until the government agreed to negotiate self-determination for the Ijaw people, who form a majority in the delta, he said.

The delta violence has so far had a minimal effect on oil production in the world’s seventh largest exporter, but companies fear a repeat of last year’s Ijaw rebellion which forced them briefly to shut 40 percent of production.

“All foreign embassies should withdraw their citizens from the Niger delta until the resolution of the fundamental issues,” he added.

He said the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force would not take responsibility for any harm to foreign nationals and advised the government and embassies to withdraw their citizens.

“That means they have to close their facilities,” he said.

“Anyone who assists the Nigerian state make money in Ijawland (the delta) will be seen as a collaborator and an enemy and will be targeted,” Asari added.

22 comments to Nigerian Oil Delta Rebels Say 'War' Starts Oct 1

  • Anonymous

    Anybody think the timing is motivated by US politics?

    Any thoughts about whether this favors one of the candidates?

  • Anonymous

    Well good thing we are in the area.(or at least nearby ;))

  • Anonymous

    know who Mighty Mouse is? ;-)

  • Anonymous

    copied from the Nigeria Compilation thread

    Nigeria: Self-Styled Rebel Seeks Independence
    http://scoop.agonist.org/comments/2004/6/14/122041/463?pid=13#15
       http://allafrica.com/stories/200407160209.html  
    Nigeria: Self-Styled Rebel Seeks Independence for Oil-Producing Niger Delta

    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
    NEWS
    July 16, 2004
    Posted to the web July 16, 2004
    Tombia

    The old, colonial buildings dotted around Tombia hark back to its former prosperity in the 19th and early 20th century when this town in the Niger delta was an important stop in the palm oil trade that fed Europe’s soap and margarine industries.

    But today these one-time glories are scorched and ruined wrecks on the battleground of an increasingly violent struggle for control of Nigeria’s current economic lifeblood – crude oil.

    The man in charge at Tombia is Asari Dokubo, a self-styled revolutionary who dropped out of university and converted from Christianity to Islam.

    Accompanied by scores of heavily-armed gunmen, he cruises through the winding creeks of the densely forested delta in a flotilla of speed boats.

    During the past few months, Dokubo’s Niger Delta’s People Volunteer Force (NDPVF) has battled repeatedly with government forces for control of Tombia and the surrounding area.

    Tombia lies just 20 km from Port Harcourt, the main operating centre for Nigeria’s oil industry.

    Dokubo is a member of the Ijaw tribe, the largest ethnic group in the delta, and he has long been associated with their fight for a better economic deal.

    He says he is fighting for the autonomy or independence of the Niger Delta, so that its people can draw greater benefit from the 2.5 million barrels of oil produced each day on their doorstep.

    “We want to achieve self-determination and be able to control our oil resources,” Dokubo told IRIN in an interview at his stronghold.

    “We also want a sovereign national conference for the country so that we can decide if we still want to be part of Nigeria,” he added, echoing the demand of many Niger Delta activists before him.

    Revolutionary or gangster?

    Dokubo’s supporters see him as a Robin Hood-style robber hero, taking on the might of Nigeria’s federal government on behalf of local people who have derived little benefit from the nation’s oil bonanza.

    But opponents of the 40-year-old militia commander say he is little more than a gangster who finances his operations by tapping crude oil from the pipelines of multinationals operating in the delta and reselling it on the black market.

    Dokubo freely admits helping himself to the crude oil produced by Royal Dutch/Shell, the largest oil company in Nigeria.

    “What we know is that the oil belongs to us, we’re not stealing it,” the portly robber baron said. “It is the Nigerian state stealing our oil from us.”

    Toting Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Dokubo’s fighters wage war against the security forces and a rival militia group with alleged links to the government in the mangrove swamps and creeks around Tombia.

    Using fast speed-boats with powerful outboard motors, they even make forays into Port Harcourt, the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry where all the multinational firms have offices.

    Dokubo told IRIN that he has enough weapons at his command to equip a well-armed force of 2,000 men.

    “We are very close to international waters and it’s very easy to get weapons,” he told IRIN. “We have AK 47s, general purpose machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.”

    Oil industry experts estimate that up to 10 percent of Nigeria’s oil is lost to well armed gangs like Dokubo’s that tap into pipelines and fill barges with stolen crude oil for sale to tankers waiting offshore.

    This wholesale theft, which deprives the government and oil companies of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, is known as “bunkering.”

    Clashes with the security forces

    Over the last two months army, navy and air force personnel have launched repeated raids against armed militants and criminal gangs in Rivers State, of which Port Harcourt is the capital and Dokubo’s men have often been their target.

    Human rights activists say more than 100 people were killed in one such clash in the town of Ogbakiri in early June. Dokubo said that his group was the target of that raid by a joint task force of soldiers and policemen.

    This week more fighting erupted on Tuesday on the outskirts of Port Harcourt. Dokubo said 11 of his fighters died in the Amadi-Ama suburb of the city as they engaged the security forces in a fire-fight which last several hours.

    The police commissioner in charge of Port Harcourt denied anyone was killed in the raid, but said 74 people had been arrested in what he called an operation to flush out weapons.

    Local residents in Amadi-Ama told IRIN they had seen the bodies of at least 10 people killed in the fighting, including the corpse of 14-year girl killed in the cross fire.

    Dokubo is an extreme example of the discontent felt by many of the 126 million people in Nigeria, which is Africa’s leading oil producer and the continent’s most populous nation.

    Until last year, this son of a high court judge, was president of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), a group that mostly comprises university-educated activists campaigning for an increased share of Nigeria’s oil wealth.

    The Ijaws represent the largest single ethnic group in the 70,000 sq km region of mangrove swamps, criss-crossing creeks and dense forests that make up the Niger Delta.

    With a population estimated at between six and eight million, mainly dependent on fishing, they are reputed to be the fourth biggest ethnic group in the country of 126 million split among 250 ethnic groups.

    Outrage at electoral fraud led Dokubo to take up arms

    Dokubo studied law at the university of Calabar in south-eastern Nigeria, but dropped out in 1988 after converting to Islam and becoming strongly engaged in radical politics. He then spent several years visiting 38 countries around the world, including Egypt and Libya.

    Dokubo said he decided to take up arms after witnessing massive fraud in the 2003 elections, which returned President Olusegun Obasanjo and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to a second term of office.

    Opposition groups and independent observers said the elections were marred by large-scale fraud. Dokubo too voiced his condemnation of massive vote-rigging.

    “I issued a statement on behalf of the IYC saying there was no election,” he said.

    Dokubo said PDP-sponsored thugs led by rival gang leader Ateke Tom, then tried to assassinate him. This, he said, prompted him to take up arms and fight.

    “We are fighting against a government which rigged elections, which doesn’t have the mandate of the people,” he said. “The oppressed people of Nigeria will rise one day, this is only the beginning,” he told IRIN.

    A spokesman for the government of Rivers State flatly denied that the authorities had links with Tom’s Niger Delta Vigilante Service (NDVS) or any other militia group in the state.

    However Dokubo’s group has clashed frequently with Tom’s. Human rights activists say both groups have links with politicians and financed themselves by bunkering.

    “Dokubo and Tom were once allies of the present civilian administration in Rivers State which allegedly armed them in the first place,” Chinedu Ukaegbu and Stevyn Obodokwe of the Civil Liberties Organisation said in their recent study of violence in the delta, entitled “When Bullets Begin to Flower.”

    But while Dokubo had fallen out with the administration of state governor Peter Odili, Tom was a well-known member of the PDP and retained close links with the authorities, they added.

    Former colleagues keep distance

    Dokubo’s former colleagues from the Ijaw Youths Council have distanced themselves from his declaration of armed struggle, insisting on a peaceful campaign to wrest the oil resources from the federal authorities.

    However, Oronto Douglas, a leading activist in the organisation, said heavy-handed repression by the security forces in the delta simply played into the hands of people like Dokubo.

    “There is a big debate in the Niger Delta right now about what is the best means of removing the yoke of oppression visited on our people, and the overwhelming position is that non-violent struggle is preferred,” Douglas, who is also an environmental lawyer, told IRIN.

    “But the government has adopted a very violent strategy of suppression that angers people like Dokubo, who see the strategy of negotiation failing woefully and are crying out for armed struggle,” he added.

    Angry villagers in the Niger Delta feel deprived of the oil wealth the government and oil multinationals produce on their land and have frequently mounted disruptive protests to press for social amenities.

    At the more violent end of the spectrum, armed militants and criminals have attacked or kidnapped foreign oil workers and blockaded oil facilities to press their political demands and demand ransoms.

    Tribalism has also reared its ugly head as rival communities vie for control of oil-producing land in order to demand jobs and social amenities such as schools and hospitals, from the oil companies and government.

    For several years, Ijaw militia groups have battled rival gunmen from the Itsekiri tribe across the delta as the two communities have fought each other for the spoils of power, although under strong government pressure they signed a peace agreement in the oil town of Warri on 1 June.

    This truce is still holding, but international security experts foresee no early end to the wider problem of violence in the Niger Delta.

    An expert study commissioned by Shell from international security company WAC Global Services earlier this year estimated that 1,000 people were killed in the Niger Delta every year.

    This puts violence in the region on the same scale as that it Colombia and Chechnya, it said, threatening both the oil industry and Nigeria’s national security.

    “If current conflict trends continue uninterrupted, it would be surprising if SCIN (Shell Companies in Nigeria) is able to continue on-shore resource extraction in the Niger Delta beyond 2008, whilst complying with Shell Business Principles,” the survey concluded.

    Shell, which accounts for about half of Nigeria’s overall oil production and has quarter of its global oil and gas reserves in the country, has formally denied suggestions that it was planning to withdraw from Nigeria.

    But the report commissioned by the oil company notes the role of politicians in the violence and predicts increasing problems in the coming years.

    “Given the likely illegal oil bunkering links to political campaigns, the run-up to the 2007 presidential elections may see a significant escalation of Niger Delta conflicts which will be difficult to dismantle,” it concluded.

  • Anonymous

    http://scoop.agonist.org/comments/2004/6/14/122041/463/22#22

    Aug 8, 2004

    Ethnic, Criminal Bloodletting Over Oil Wealth Has Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Reeling

    By Glenn McKenzie
    Associated Press Writer

    OMADINO, Nigeria (AP) – The sound of speedboats on the otherwise calm rain forest creek was enough to send villagers fleeing.

    “They were afraid. They just ran away,” said Gabriel Walter, 42, the only resident of Omadino who stayed to meet journalists and soldiers visiting the oil-rich swamps of Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta. Entire families fled into surrounding forests with laundry still hanging on the line and pots gurgling on cooking fires.

    Walter would not say whether it was Nigerian security forces or ethnic militants that the townspeople feared. Both groups are known to go on killing rampages.

    Nigeria’s oil industry – Africa’s largest and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports – is likewise concerned for its future. A yearlong spree of bloodletting has killed more than 1,000 people in the delta – unrest comparable in scale to Chechnya and Colombia.

    The growing insecurity in Nigeria’s most lucrative industry comes as oil prices briefly hit a record intraday trading high Tuesday of $44.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange following a heightened U.S. terror alert and supply concerns in Russia and OPEC, of which Nigeria is a key member.

    Major oil companies hope to double production in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, estimated to hold up to 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The United States, Europe and Asia are increasingly looking to the region’s oil as an alternative to crude from the Middle East.

    Yet residents of Nigeria’s southern oil-producing delta complain their elected leaders have failed to fight poverty in the region. Tensions over oil revenues have aggravated ethnic strife. Kidnappings and sabotage have escalated, forcing costly shutdowns by companies pumping crude.

    The Nigerian subsidiary of San Ramon, Calif.-based ChevronTexaco Corp. is among the companies hit hardest by Nigeria’s worsening oil-related violence, suffering an estimated $750 million in costs from sabotage to its wells, pipelines and other facilities since March 2003.

    Sixteen months later, the company still can’t restart production at pipeline pump stations and wells considered unusable or unsafe, resulting in production losses estimated at more than $1 billion.

    Royal Dutch/Shell, Nigeria’s largest oil operation, which produces half the 2.5 million barrels Nigeria exports daily, also is reeling.

    A confidential 93-page security report commissioned by Shell in December 2003 and obtained by The Associated Press and other news organizations warns that mounting attacks by criminals and ethnic militants could force the oil giant to abandon its onshore operations in the delta by 2008.

    Shell spokesman Simon Buerk rejects the possibility of a company pullout.

    “We don’t agree with that conclusion. We are committed to our operations in Nigeria,” Buerk told the AP.

    Other company officials concede, however, that the firm is increasingly turning its attention to offshore oil fields because it considers them safer from attack by bandits and activists.

    Buerk declined to discuss the confidential report’s other conclusions: that Shell “exacerbates conflict” in the way it gives cash and contracts to delta residents and offers “stay-at-home pay” to disgruntled youths.

    Such “lack of transparency” encourages villagers to fight Shell – and each other – for a share of the oil money, the report’s authors concluded.

    Multinational companies encourage crime through “corruption in the contracting process and the payment of ransoms that make crime lucrative,” the study warned, adding that Shell’s “social license to operate is fast-eroding.”

    Indeed, delta residents, most of whom earn less than $1 a day despite the region’s petroleum wealth, accuse oil companies of colluding with Nigeria’s government to foment divisions between rival community groups in a strategy to deprive them of oil earnings.

    Addressing such allegations, the Shell-commissioned report’s authors say there is “no evidence” companies have these sinister motives. Yet the authors warn that some oil company employees do “engage in criminal activities” that deprive residents of benefits.

    Oil companies are feeling the backlash from militants and other groups, which increasingly use sophisticated equipment to syphon oil from pipelines for resale to tankers bound for Europe, Asia and South America. Nigeria’s government estimates the industry loses up to 300,000 barrels a day – the equivalent of 15 percent of total exports.

    Another growing concern for oil multinationals, company officials privately acknowledge, is the possibility of being blamed for killings, robberies or other abuses inflicted by Nigerian police and soldiers trying to control the restive delta.

    Earlier this month, security forces raided five delta villages, leaving 15 people dead and ransacking and burning homes, according to witnesses and militants. The operation was part of an effort to combat attacks on multinational oil operations, the security forces said.

    In March, a U.S. federal judge in San Francisco ruled that ChevronTexaco could be made to stand trial for civil damages in the United States on allegations that its Nigerian subsidiary was linked to the deaths of nine people allegedly shot by soldiers during protests on an offshore oil platform in 1998. ChevronTexaco has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

    Similar U.S. cases are pending against other oil concerns. A lawsuit brought by members of Nigeria’s ethnic Ogoni tribe in New York accuses Shell of colluding with Nigeria’s former military regime to cause the hanging of nine activists, including author and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ken Saro-Wiwa, in November 1995. Shell contends it lobbied Nigeria’s government to free the activists.

    Many residents of the delta, increasingly awash with automatic weapons and rocket launchers, say they have given up hope of a peaceful resolution to the conflicts between armed gangs, soldiers and oil companies.

    One group led by Alhaji Dokubo Asari, a self-styled warlord in the jungle creeks near the oil city of Port Harcourt, openly challenges President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government in what activists call an “armed struggle” for territory and crude.

    “If we had guns, we wouldn’t be running,” said Walter, the resident remaining in Omadino after all his fellow villagers had fled.

    AP-ES-08-08-04 1921EDT

    This story can be found at: http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBPSNUSNXD.html

  • Anonymous

    A fine specimen of an attitude of so many Americans of all walks of life that never ceases to amaze me.  The US is a fine country – but the world does NOT revolve around it.  The reason for the timing given in the article is perfectly plausible.  This conflict has a long history and its very own dynamic.  To even assume that these rebels would look at the US campaign and then discuss what candidate to endorse by their timely action is more than absurd. It’s ludicrous.

  • Anonymous

    Nigeria’s oil rebels fuel fears of global shortage

    A revolt in the African state is threatening to disrupt the country’s most important export. Christian Allen Purefoy reports from Lagos on the latest conflict driving up the price of crude

    Scattered across the wetland, massive chimneys burn the natural gas emitted as a by-product of the Niger Delta’s oil. Day and night since 1964 the black towers have spat bright orange flames 30m high.

    They should be totems of prosperity; indicators that this chunk of Nigeria, by virtue of geographic good fortune, has tapped into a global industry that one might expect rewards producers of black gold with wealth and political stability.

    Yet the oil world is in crisis. And Nigeria is no exception. The rebel Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force has threatened “all-out war on the Nigerian state” and ordered oil companies to shut operations by Friday, Nigeria’s independence day. Foreign workers will be targeted, the rebel leader, Alhaji Mujahid Dukobo-Asari, has warned.

    It is a bleak picture. Yet the cloud of doom also overshadows oil operations from Central America to the Caucasus. This week, after the murder of a Frenchman in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, and the deteriorating situation in Nigeria, oil prices nudged record highs, past the $50-a-barrel mark. The gift of black gold, so prized by the United States in particular, is, for many in the Third World, becoming a curse.

    With huge potential markets in China and India, there remains a deep thirst for oil, but present levels of production are thought to be sustainable for only 20 years, at most. A desperate scramble for an increasingly scarce resource threatens to become more explosive.

    In Nigeria, a guerrilla war between rival gangs and government troops has been steadily gaining pace, now spilling on to the streets of Africa’s oil capital, Port Harcourt. Amnesty International says more than 500 people have been killed in the past month.

    Armed gangs, using the 3,000-odd rivers and creeks to manoeuvre and hide, are demanding more local control over resources. More local control means more wealth for the gang leaders, many of whom use cults and black magic to maintain support and fear.

    The recent violence is their answer to a military crackdown on the gangs and has forced Shell to evacuate 250 non-essential staff from Soku and Ekulama, 30 miles from Port Harcourt. A Shell official, who asked not to be named, said essential supplies were being airlifted to staff still in the area. Production, he added, has not been affected, although Reuters reports that Shell has lost 30,000 to 40,000 barrels a day from the normal supply of a million barrels a day. A Shell spokeswoman, Precious Omuku, said: “The Santa Barbara flow-station, producing 28,000 barrels per day, has been shut because we are unable to get staff to rectify a technical problem.”

    The state spokesman Emma Okah said, with the army guarding the oil facilities, Dukobo-Asari “does not have the ability to do what he is promising”, and that his “true intentions” are the oil thefts commonly known as “bunkering”, and smuggling oil.

    Last year, Shell reported 88 oil thefts, with about nine million barrels stolen; in 2002, only six million barrels were stolen. The unnamed Shell official described 2003 as “particularly bad year”. Shell handles more than half of Nigeria’s daily oil supply of about 2.5 million barrels. Rusted oil pipes snake through the third largest wetland in the world, which covers an area the size of Ireland. Where one had burst, the oil gushed several metres high, turning the river a thick brown colour. “Don’t drink it and don’t swim in it,” Ken Clary, managing director of a new water treatment project, said. Further up the road, villagers were washing in the creek.

    Beneath the rivers and mud, the Niger Delta accounts for oil reserves of 30 billion barrels of oil and 160 thousand billion cubic feet of gas. The light, “sweet” Nigerian crude oil is especially important to the US because it is easier to turn into petrol, making Nigeria the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the US. Estimates put 10 per cent of the UK’s natural gas coming from the region in the next few years. The Energy Information Association (EIA) has recently put Nigeria as the third-highest revenue earner in Opec with $27bn in 2004, after Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    The recent fighting is primarily between the government and Dukobo-Asari. He is demanding independence for the region’s largest ethnic group, the Ijaws, who make up 70 per cent of the local population and have their own militias. But Captain Ogbonna Kanu, spokesman for the military, said the militias are simply “armed-gangsters fighting amongst themselves” for control of stolen oil.

    Amnesty has linked these cults and terrorists, and called on the attention of “America and Britain, as the leading agents in the fight against terrorism, [to] the presence of advanced terrorists in Nigeria”. Nigeria’s Amnesty secretary, John Lar-Wisa, said the Nigerian government should clamp down on what he called communal violence by ethnic militia groups to prevent a worse security threat.

    Last year, more than 1,000 people were killed in fighting between Ijaw militias, traditionally fishermen, and Itsekiri farmers through the region. During the worst of the violence in March, oil supply was cut by 40 per cent. Oil installations up to 30 miles offshore were evacuated with an estimated loss of $20m a day.

    During the national elections last year, the two groups were fighting for control of the local government and its influence over the oil. With the military backing the Itsekiri, Dukobo-Asari accused President Olusegun Obasanjo of rigging the elections. The situation calmed, but for the past 18 months in the Warri region, militias have closed wells producing 140,000 barrels of oil a day. Could that happen in Port Harcourt?The battle for oil has commenced in Nigeria. Many other countries are looking on nervously.

    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/story.jsp?story=566763  September 29

  • Anonymous

    Nigerian oil delta rebel in 11th hour peace talks
    29 Sep 2004 07:43:36 GMT

    Source: Reuters

    LAGOS, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Nigerian rebel leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari said he arrived in Abuja on Wednesday morning for talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo after his group threatened a new offensive against troops in the oil-producing Niger delta and threatened to target oil workers.

    Asari told Reuters that the new offensive would be suspended if an agreement was reached on self-determination and resource control for the vast delta region, where almost all of Nigeria’s 2.3 million barrels per day of oil is produced.

    ————————————————
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3695990.stm

    Nigerian army warns oil rebels

    Nigeria’s military has warned an armed group in its oil-producing area it will take off the “kid gloves” unless the militia stops threatening oil workers.
    The militia said foreign oil companies must cease production or face “all-out war” in the Niger Delta from 1 October.

    Anglo-Dutch oil company, Shell, the biggest oil company in Nigeria, has boosted security following the threats.

    Nigeria is the world’s seventh largest exporter of oil, but 70% of the population live in poverty.

    Human rights group Amnesty International has said that the army already had orders to use “maximum force” in the area, leading to the deaths of up to 500 people in the past six weeks.

    The militia says it is fighting for the liberation of the Ijaw people. Local authorities say they are merely oil thieves and dismiss their threat.

    Fears of the Nigeria unrest spreading were one reason why oil prices have reached a record high of more than $50 a barrel, traders say.

    Production

    A statement from Shell described the region as still tense and said that the movement of employees and supplies had been curtailed.

    Oil production has also been affected.

    The Santa Barbara flow station, which produces 28,000 barrels per day, has been shut down because the company cannot reach the area to fix a technical problem.

    Dokubo Asari, the leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, told the BBC that all foreign nationals should withdraw
    from the region with immediate effect.

    He said his group would not take responsibility for any harm that befalls a foreigner after his release of a communique threatening to escalate violence.

    He added that expatriates – who in this region are predominantly oil workers – could only return when fundamental issues of resource control and self-determination had been resolved.

    Fighting

    Dokubo Asari took to the creeks of River State earlier this year, and hundreds of people have died in the subsequent clashes with the police, navy and rival gangs.

    Fighting has intensified in the last month after the military launched a major operation against the group.

    On Thursday Shell pulled out more than 200 of its non-essential staff from two gas and oil fields because of heightened tensions.
    A spokesman for Rivers State government called Dokubo Asari a “joker”.

    “He does not have the capacity to destroy oil installations. The government will not allow it. The security forces are fully mobilised and combat-ready to dislodge this criminal group,” Emmanuel Okah told AFP news agency.

    The BBC’s Anna Borzello in Nigeria says the Niger Delta holds the bulk of Nigeria’s oil reserves, but the area is under-developed and riven by conflict, often caused by armed gangs involved in the lucrative trade of smuggling crude oil.

    Story from BBC NEWS:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/3695990.stm

  • Anonymous

    Nigerian oil delta rebel awaits 11th hour talks
    29 Sep 2004 14:11:21 GMT

    (Updates with comment on meeting paragraph 5, previous LAGOS)

    By Dino Mahtani

    ABUJA, Sept 29 (Reuters) – A rebel fighting for autonomy in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta arrived in the capital for talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday on terms to end violence that helped to push crude prices to record highs.

    Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who leads a militia called the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, told Reuters a rebel offensive, due to be launched on Friday, would be suspended if agreement was reached on political autonomy and oil revenues for the delta region.

    “I have just landed in Abuja to meet the president,” Asari said. “All issues are open for discussion. If we reach an agreement, Operation Locust Feast will be suspended,” he added, referring to the threatened offensive.

    A spokeswoman for the government, which has called Asari a gangster, declined to confirm the Abuja meeting and said the president was not scheduled to meet the rebel leader on Wednesday.

    An ethnic militant leader in the oil city of Port Harcourt said the denials were probably because the meeting had been organised without using the normal protocols. “Asari is in Aso Rock (the presidential palace) right now waiting for a meeting with Obasanjo within the next one hour,” said Miabiye Kuromiema, secretary-general of the Ijaw Youth Council.

    The rebel group on Monday issued a communique telling multinational companies to shut production in the world’s seventh largest oil exporter and withdraw their staff ahead of an “all-out war on the Nigerian state”.

    Oil prices broke above $50 per barrel for the first time in history after Asari issued the communique, as dealers saw a further tightening of already precarious global oil supply.

    U.S. light crude surged to a record trading high at $50.47 a barrel on Tuesday before settling at $49.90. It shed three cents to $49.87 a barrel on Wednesday.

    “Our position has not changed since the communique. All foreign citizens should leave the delta,” Asari said on Wednesday.

    Oil multinationals have largely ignored the instruction to leave, but they have stepped up security in the vast area of mangrove swamps and creeks which produces almost all of the OPEC nation’s 2.3 million barrels per day.

    Nigeria’s top oil producer, Royal Dutch Shell Group <RD.AS> <SHEL.L>, said it evacuated more than 200 workers from two oilfields located near the fighting, but so far only small amounts of oil output have been affected.

    Companies fear a repeat of last year’s uprising by members of the Ijaw tribe, who are in majority in the delta, which forced them briefly to shut 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil production.

    SERIOUS THREAT?

    Oil executives were divided over how seriously to take the threats by Asari, whose following has grown rapidly in the poverty-stricken delta since he launched an armed uprising against the government last year.

    “Frankly I don’t take his threats seriously at all,” said a senior executive at a multinational oil company. “If he attempts to harm any expatriate, he will incur the anger of the federal government and he cannot withstand that.”

    A security consultant at another multinational said Asari was a “serious threat to oil operations in the delta”.

    “If Operation Locust Feast does go ahead, it will impact oil operations. If Asari can galvanise feelings of oppression by the Ijaw people, it could get a lot worse,” he said.

    Asari is seen as a local hero by many Ijaws, but the government has described him as a gangster fighting for control of routes used by oil smugglers.

    Amnesty International said 500 civilians were killed in fighting around Port Harcourt in three weeks to mid-September, but government figures are far below that. The deaths have been mostly from sporadic gun battles between the rebels, who travel in speedboats, and newly deployed troops sent to crack down on them.

    A recent consultant report for Shell estimated that about 1,000 people die every year because of communal and political unrest in the delta, where the majority live in abject poverty despite the oil wealth under their soil.

    Asari is the latest in a long line of delta militants and his ideas are reminiscent of rebels such as Isaac Boro in the 1960s and Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was hanged by then military dictator Sani Abacha in 1995.

    Asari said membership of his loosely knit volunteer force now numbered more than 200,000 and that his arsenal included machine guns, assault rifles and rocket launchers.

    (Additional reporting by Dino Mahtani

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L29588916.htm

  • Anonymous

    Nigeria military declares offensive against rebel group  
    By :  
    Date : 29 September 2004 2326 hrs (SST)  
    URL : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/109187/1/.html  

    PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria : Nigeria’s army launched an offensive against a separatist rebel group which has threatened oil installations and workers in the southern Delta region, an army spokesman said.

    “The Joint Task Force has instituted a continuous 24-hour patrol in Port Harcourt (Nigeria’s oil city) and its surrounding creeks. There is also a crack team of standby troops to reach any part of the state on short notice,” JTF spokesman Captain Onyema Kanu told AFP.

    A separatist movement, the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), led by Mujahid Dokubo Asari, which claims to fight for the interests of ethnic Ijaw people of the oil-rich region, late Monday threatened to destroy oil installations and warned foreigners to quit the region.

    Asari later denied the threat to destroy the oil installations.

    “With such an unguarded threat from the gang leader, the JTF is being catalysed to manifest full military colour in the creeks of Rivers State only if that will guarantee security of lives and property and fish out the gangsters,” the JTF statement said.

    The JFT warned Asari and “his like to stop steering internal insurrection in the creeks.”

    It also urged expatriate oil workers and local citizens to go about their usual business as troops will “continue to comb the creeks to fish and flush out the gangsters.”

    The JTF announcement of round-the-clock patrols came as rebel leader Asari said he was in the capital for talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo, but the head of state’s office denied plans for a meeting.

    “I’m in Abuja already, in the town, I arrived early this morning. They sent the presidential jet to fetch me,” Asari said by telephone.

    “There is no such appointment with the president,” Obasanjo’s spokeswoman Remi Oyo said, again denying the claim Asari first made by satellite telephone late Tuesday.

    The conflicting statements came two weeks after the government sent troops to Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, and other parts of the delta in the wake of fighting between two armed gangs for control of the area’s illegal crude oil extraction and smuggling operations.

    Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil producer, turning out at least 2.3 million barrels a day, but the NVPDF, accused by the government of trafficking oil, has told multinationals to leave the delta.

    “I’m in downtown Abuja, we are waiting,” Asari said. “Me and a delegation of five persons, five of my commanders and ADCs (aides de camp). The president’s office said they’ll send someone to take us to meet Obasanjo.”

    World oil prices were early Wednesday just above 50 dollars per barrel. The United States is a key client for Nigeria’s light, low-sulphur crude, most suitable for refining into petrol.

    - AFP

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/109187/1/.html

  • Anonymous

    Nigerian Oil Fields Peace Deal Agreed

    “PA”

    A Nigerian rebel leader claimed tonight he had reached a peace deal that would bring an end to fighting in the oil rich south that has helped push up world fuel prices.

    Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, who heads the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, said he agreed to a peace deal with President Olusegun Obasanjo to end fighting in Africa’s leading oil exporter.

    “The president has given an express understanding that no troops will attack our people. And as along as they don’t attack, we won’t attack,” he said.

    Dukubo-Asari, who claims direct control of 2,000 ethnic Ijaw fighters and the loyalty of tens of thousands more, threatened on Tuesday to widen his campaign to control of the nation’s southern Niger Delta region.

    His threats to target foreign oil firms and their international workers starting on Friday – Nigeria’s 44th anniversary of independence from Britain -helped send crude-oil prices to historic highs – over 50 US dollars a barrel in global markets.  

    http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3562686

    ————————————————

    Nigerian rebel agrees ceasefire with govt
    29 Sep 2004 17:03:12 GMT

    Source: Reuters

    (Edits)

    ABUJA, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Nigerian rebel warlord Mujahid Dokubo-Asari said on Wednesday he had agreed a temporary ceasefire to allow talks with the government, but he repeated his warning to foreign oil workers to leave the Niger Delta.

    Asari, who leads a militia called the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, had threatened to launch an offensive on Friday unless a deal was reached on autonomy and oil revenues for the impoverished delta region.

    “We have finished the first round of talks with the president (Olusegun Obasanjo). There should be a cessation of hostilities on both sides. Apart from that, we have not agreed anything else for the time being.”

    “Operation Locust Feast is still dependent on the outcome of the talks. Foreign nationals are still advised to leave the delta because they are part of the overall situation,” Asari said.

    The rebels on Monday issued a communique telling multinational companies to shut production in the world’s seventh largest oil exporter and withdraw their staff ahead of an “all-out war on the Nigerian state”.

    Oil prices broke above $50 per barrel for the first time in history after Asari issued the communique, as dealers saw a further tightening of already precarious global oil supply.

    Asari arrived in Abuja earlier on Wednesday for talks with Obasanjo.

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L29329952.htm

  • Anonymous

    UPDATE 4-Nigerian rebels suspend Delta offensive
    Fri Oct 1, 2004 05:37 PM ET

    (Recasts offensive suspended indefinitely, oil price)
    By Dino Mahtani

    ABUJA, Oct 1 (Reuters) – A rebel Nigerian warlord withdrew a threat to shut oil operations in the world’s seventh largest exporter on Friday as part of a peace deal negotiated with the government.

    Warlord Mujahid Dokubo-Asari agreed to call off a threatened “all-out war” on the state and signed a six-point peace accord with a rival warlord pledging to disarm, a statement released after the three-day talks said.

    “Asari has agreed to ask all his forces to cease hostilities,” said Miabiye Kuromiema, secretary-general of the militant group Ijaw Youth Council, who was also a signatory to the agreement. The parties are due to meet again on Oct. 8.

    The statement said the Niger delta warlords agreed not to attack “economic and social interests of Nigeria”.

    Asari also agreed to disband his militia under the terms of the peace agreement.

    more

    http://yahoo.reuters.com/financeQuoteCompanyNewsArticle.jhtml?duid=mtfh68678_2004-10-01_21-37-26_l01
    472914_newsml

  • Anonymous

    Nigeria delta peace deal far from sealed-activists
    02 Oct 2004 19:01:14 GMT

    By Dino Mahtani

    LAGOS, Oct 2 (Reuters) – A peace deal between the Nigerian government and a rebel leader was met with scepticism by local human rights activists on Saturday who said the deal was a political fudge that would not prevent fresh violence.

    Ethnic Ijaw rebel Mujahid Dokubo-Asari signed a six point peace agenda along with a rival warlord on Friday, pledging to disarm his forces and withdraw threats to the country’s oil industry in order to bring stability to the impoverished Niger delta. The government itself did not sign the document.

    Rights activists in Nigeria say the deal does not address the key issue of political backing given to the warlords, who are now expected to disarm in return for nothing more than vague promises of greater wealth and power sharing measures.

    “The government have promised Asari nothing, but just expect him to disarm, so the violence can re-occur,” said Anyakwee Nsirimovu, Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, based in the oil city of Port Harcourt.

    MORE:  http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L02516056.htm

  • Anonymous

    Nigerian security improves after delta peace deal
    03 Oct 2004 16:44:09 GMT

    Source: Reuters

    (Adds quote from Asari supporter)

    By Austin Ekeinde

    PORT HARCOURT, Oct 3 (Reuters) – Security is improving in Nigeria’s oil-producing delta and oil companies are considering a return for evacuated workers following a peace deal signed by a rebel militia, industry sources said on Sunday.

    The surprise pact, sealed on Friday, resolved a crisis that had driven crude prices to a record high above $50 a barrel.

    And despite potential pitfalls in the way of a lasting deal, the military appeared to be respecting an agreement not to launch attacks on rebel warlord Mujahid Dokubo-Asari.

    Nigeria’s top oil producer Royal Dutch Shell Group <RD.AS> <SHEL.L> evacuated 300 workers last month from three oilfields, to escape clashes between rebels and troops in the vast area of creeks and mangrove swamps. It also shut a small flow station because of security restrictions.

    “There is relative calm, but we need to see how sustainable it is before resuming those operations,” said a Shell spokesman.

    MORE at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L03664338.htm

  • Anonymous

    Time is GMT + 8 hours
    Posted: 04 October 2004 0118 hrs

    Nigerian rebel leader reaches out to rival in troubled oil region

    AMADI-AMA, Nigeria : Nigerian rebel leader Mujahid Dokubo Asari assured his arch rival in the battle for the control of oil resources in the Niger Delta, Ateke Tom that he was ready to make peace.

    The two gangs fighting for supremacy over the oil wealth in the region, the hub of Nigeria’s lucrative oil industry, signed a ceasefire and disarmament agreement in Abuja on Friday after months of violence.

    Asari’s Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and Akete Tom, leader of the rival Niger Delta Vigilantes signed the peace deal at the request of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Both factions hail from the Ijaw people, the delta’s eight million-strong dominant ethnic group.

    Asari told a rally at Amadi-Ama outside Port Harcourt, the hub of Nigeria’s oil industry, that he had made peace with Ateke. The town was one of the spots worst affected by the gang violence, which threatened to disrupt the delta’s vital oil production.

    “Ateke is our brother, our son. He has regretted having allowed himself to be used by enemies of the Ijaw nation and we have forgiven him,” he told the gathering.

    “He has dropped his guns and we have dropped ours. If he picks up the guns again, we will pick up ours,” he said

    “Ateke wants peace. We will give him the benefits of the doubt that he is sincere,” added Asaru, who said he had spoken with his rival by telephone on Sunday morning.

    “For the sake of our common struggle. We have agreed to work together. But if Ateke refuses to support the cause, we know what to do,” Asari warned, adding that he and his rival planned to visit each other’s home towns.

    “Ateke will accompany me to Buguma while I will in return visit him at Okrika to prove to the world that we are serious about the peace process.”

    Threats made against the oil sector by Asari’s group strongly influenced the price of crude oil during the last week. Nigeria is sixth in the league of world crude exporters.

    Most of the 2.5 million barrels daily produced by Nigeria, fifth largest oil supplier to the United States, comes from the Niger Delta.

    The rebels had threatened to go to war if their demands for a bigger slice of Nigeria’s oil wealth, greater autonomy for their Ijaw people, and a national debate on Nigeria’s problems were not met.

    Several issues remain outstanding following the three-day talks with the government in Abuja.

    The NDPVF leader said the struggle for self-determination would continue, adding that the Nigerian government had committed to making it realisable.

    “Obasanjo agreed with us that the Ijaws have a right to self-determination and we will be meeting him in Abuja on Friday to continue the negotiations,” he said.

    Obasanjo’s office confirmed that the president would continue talks with the Delta militia chiefs in order to restore peace in the region, but could not give a precise timetable.

    However, Asari accused the governor of the delta’s Rivers State, Peter Odili of working against the Ijaws, and called on him to stand down.

    “Odili has insulted the Ijaw nation. He told Obasanjo we are not more than 15 percent of the population in Rivers State. We will not stop this struggle until he is kicked out of government house,” he said.

    Odili on Sunday extended an amnesty offer to the rebel gangs following the Abuja peace deal, but asked their supporters to hand in their weapons.

    Asari who was treated to a heroic welcome in Amadi-Ama, thanked the people for their backing.

    “I am grateful. I am humbled by your show of strength and support,” he said, adding that the town suffered losses both human and material during the fighting in the past months.

    The town’s traditional ruler, E.A.G. Inimgba, thanked Asari and his group for their support, stressing that the rebels were doing so at great risk to their lives.

    He said Asari should work towards a lasting peace in the region, where armed violence has left some 500 dead in Port Harcourt and its environs since August, according to Amnesty International.

    - AFP

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/109866/1/.html

  • Anonymous

    Sell more oil.  Less competition.

  • Anonymous

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200410050119.html

    Asari’s Struggle Dubious – Amnesty International

    Vanguard (Lagos)
    NEWS
    October 5, 2004
    Posted to the web October 5, 2004

    By Emma Amaize
    Warri

    AMNESTY International Nigeria, yesterday, faulted the claim, weekend, by the Ijaw warlord, Mujahid Dokubo Asari that he was fighting for resource control and sovereignty for the Niger Delta people, declaring that Dokubo and others were at war because those who allegedly armed and used them as political thugs during the elections failed to or refused to honour their promises to them after the exercise.

    Amnesty International Nigeria, Group 17 in a “state of the nation” appraisal signed by its secretary, Mr. John Lar-Wisa said that the warlords were not cultists either as they had been branded by their erstwhile sponsors in government who have found it very difficult to disarm or expose them after using them because of the unpleasant consequences of doing so.

    Querying whose soverignty the warlords were fighting for and where, the group said it was clear that they were being sponsored by certain groups of indidviduals as reportedly admitted by Alhaji Dokubo in an interview with TheNews and Newswatch magazines.

    “Members were privileged to get in touch with some victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Rivers State and in our interactions, we were shocked to hear that the leader of one of the armed gangs was a very close confidant of the present state government. Some government house workers confided in us the fact that he had dined and wined with the present government functionaries before those attacks. But certain turn of events has led to this unfortunate attack on the rival gang and law-abiding citizens of the state”, the group stated.

    Amnesty International stated categorically that “from the foregoing, they are no cult groups as the pronouncements over the airwaves and in the dailies would have us believe. Our investigations revealed that people in government armed and used them as political thugs during elections against their opponents and may have either neglected them after the exercise or had refused to redeem the pledges made to them. Those who grouped them together now have difficulty with either disarming or exposing them, as the consequences may be unpleasant for them; therefore they are branded cultists. This is giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. This is the case with other warring groups in other parts of the country.

    “One group perceives the other as the one stalling the fulfillment of the promises made to it, thus crushing it is tantamount to demonstration of might, one over the other, perhaps that would propel the benefactor to hastily redeem his promises. They wielded sophisticated weapons in the streets at day with impunity and the police and members of the public watch with admiration, yet they are not accosted. This is how some onlookers lost their lives.

    These are not cultists; they are more advanced and operate under the guise of fighting for sovereignty”, it added.

    Amnesty noted that “one striking thing about these groups is that unless the leaders have some disagreements or face off with the government in power, they remain anonymous; never identified or arrested by any body or law enforcement agencies.”

  • Anonymous

    This article is full of hidden links

     http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-6-91-2139.jsp

    * Oil jihad in the Niger delta?
     Bronwen Manby
    7 – 10 – 2004

    Record world oil prices are raising rumours of jihad in the Niger delta. But the conflict in Nigeria’s oil-producing heartland is more complex and localised than this suggests, says a human rights researcher who has met the rebel leader “Mujahid” Asari Dokubo.  

    In a world where western media jump on any sign of a “war on terror”, a lot can ride on a name. “Mujahid” Asari Dokubo, the self-described rebel leader in the Niger delta, was until recently plain “Alhaji” Asari Dokubo. The “Mujahid” tag appears to be part of an effort to focus international attention, however briefly, on this neglected region of West Africa. But the real story is different from the geopolitical eruption that it suggests.

    Asari Dokubo’s activities halted production of just 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil. By comparison, violence during the period of national and state elections in Nigeria in April 2003 closed down 800,000 bpd -40% of daily output. The international media interest in the future of Nigerian oil production at that time was far lower.

    Dokubo is the sort of man who arrives for a meeting with a human rights researcher like me in a Mercedes Benz, accompanied by four beefy young men wearing black T-shirts and aviator sunglasses; and then talks convincingly and with passion about his commitment to self-determination for the Niger delta (when I met him in 2001, he also claimed – less convincingly – to be committed to non-violent methods).

    He converted to Islam as a student, an unusual step for the son of a judge from a region of Nigeria that has very few indigenous Muslims. He claims no role for Islam in his current activities, and few if any of his supporters are fellow-Muslims.

    How much support does Asari Dokubo have? Certainly, there is widespread backing in the delta for many the sentiments he expresses, and in particular for the right of the people living in the oil-producing areas to claim control of “their” oil. The level of anger at the absence of anything to show for decades of oil production – except pollution and five-star hotels – is hard to overstate. Personally, I have only seen anger at that level in one other place and time: in South Africa before the end of apartheid. The anger here is similarly rooted in the coexistence of endemic poverty alongside great wealth for a small elite.

    There is also quite substantial support in the Niger delta for the articulation of self-determination as a violent struggle. The “elected” politicians of the delta have zero credibility or support except among those who can expect to gain from their kleptocracy. Even the very modest hopes that people had of the civilian government installed in 1999 have been dashed, and the experience of 2003 is that the ballot-box is useless as a way of removing the politicians who have performed so poorly. For many, violence is the next logical step.

    Injustice, violence and the spoils

    When I met him in 2001 Dokubo had staged something of a coup in taking over the leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council. The IYC was established in late 1998, as a sixteen-year period of military rule was nearing its end in Nigeria. Its aim was to mobilise the widespread anger felt among the young men of the Niger delta’s largest ethnic group – one fragmented by the creeks that criss-cross the mangrove forests among which its people live – to demand a better deal from the incoming civilian government and from the oil companies.

    In particular, the IYC demanded “resource control” – that is, that the oil companies should account first to the communities where they operated rather than negotiating deals with a federal government which has shown itself unwilling to pass on the benefits. The IYC was inspired at least in part by the example of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop). Saro-Wiwa, executed by the military regime in 1995, is a hero across the delta for closing down Shell’s production in the small section of Rivers State occupied by the Ogoni people.

    Asari Dokubo claims also to admire both Nelson Mandela and Osama bin Laden — the latter for standing up to the “arrogance of the west”, just as the people of the delta should stand up to the arrogance of the Nigerian federal government. In addition, he says he has undergone guerrilla training outside the country.

    It was the new governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, who sponsored Dokubo’s 2001 “coup”. Odili had been deeply threatened by the attempt to create a genuine political movement uniting the many clans of the Ijaw, and he engineered a split between the founders of the IYC and a faction led by Dokubo. Dokubo was close to Odili during the time of widespread violence and intimidation in the delta leading up to the latter’s re-election in 2003 – though describing the 2003 polls as an “election” in any part of the delta would be a distortion of reality. After what became popularly known as the “selections”, Odili dropped his former protégé, and Dokubo adopted the language of armed resistance.

    In military terms, Dokubo’s control of territory is largely confined to his home area of the Kalabari clan, a relatively small section of the riverine part of Rivers State. But he can call on the services of at least several hundred young men (he claims several thousand) from across Ijaw territory . He also has a serious armoury at his disposal: not just the standard AK47s that are easily available to the smallest local gang-leader, but general purpose machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

    He obtained the weapons using profits from the theft of crude oil direct from the oil companies’ pipelines, and via the assistance of similar militia groups operating in Delta State in the western delta. By all accounts, there is also significant leakage of weaponry from the Nigerian armed forces. Weapons no longer needed for active hostilities in Liberia or Sierra Leone find their way along the West African coast; and arms dealers will sell wherever they find a market.

    Dokubo is not alone in stealing oil, a practice known as “illegal oil bunkering”, which can involve the loss of up to 10% of Nigeria’s daily production, worth several million dollars a day. The fights over territory in order to control the trade are common, and increasingly militarised (see The Warri Crisis: fuelling violence). Those accused of involvement in the bunkering trade include senior politicians and state officials at both state and federal level; the editor of a magazine detailing such allegations has been charged with sedition and criminal defamation (see Nigeria: renewed crackdown on freedom of expression).

    The path to disaster

    The Nigerian military have been deployed in force to suppress Dokubo’s Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force (NDPVF, echoing the name of a group that led a short-lived 1966 uprising whose leader Isaac Boro has a park named after him in the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt). Access to the area being contested is limited, but the navy has destroyed several villages with the support of military helicopters, and up to several hundred people may have been killed. Others have been caught in the crossfire between the NDPVF and an equally well-armed rival militia led by one Ateke Tom, who has the favour of the state government.

    Among his Kalabari people, Dokubo may well be blamed for bringing this vengeance upon them; but in the wider delta the military’s tactics are certain to increase support for Dokubo and those like him who articulate a rejection of the federal government and are willing to fight for local control over oil resources.

    The “Mujahid” has used this base level of support to portray himself as a principled rebel leader fighting for the rights of the delta people, and to focus national and international media attention on his situation in order to reduce his chances of being obliterated on his home territory. This strategy has been successful, leading to meetings between Dokubo and high-level oil company delegations and even Nigeria’s president, Olusegun Obasanjo. It also suits the Rivers State government to echo Dokubo’s shift of language, as this moves attention away from his previous status as a creature of the governor and justifies its own military response.

    What, then, are the long-term implications for the Niger delta of this latest confrontation? At one level, this is just another messy small war in a region that has been marked by increasing violence for more than a decade. Even the disruption to oil supplies is relatively small – though it brought attention to the delta by contributing to the increase in prices to over $50 a barrel.

    Nonetheless, the fighting marks yet another escalation in conflict, and for the first time serious casualties have been inflicted on the outskirts of Port Harcourt itself, where Dokubo’s followers have been implicated in recent weeks in fighting in which scores of people have died. Unless urgent action is taken to address some of the basic demands of which Dokubo is the current spokesperson – essentially that the oil must benefit more than a few – the situation is likely to deteriorate and militia like his may take control over much wider areas of the delta.

    Action to prevent this must include measures to control the spread of small arms and reduce the theft of oil. Even more important, there must be an all-out effort to reduce the diversion of the government’s oil revenues from public goods into private pockets; and to ensure that the 2007 elections have some measure of legitimacy, making it possible for the Ijaw and others living in the delta to hope for change through the ballot-box rather than the bullet.

    The current trajectory, one driven by the industrialised world’s greed for oil, seems far more likely to reduce the Niger delta to the desperate situation of so many other war-torn parts of West Africa.

  • Anonymous

    Oct 16, 2004

    Nigerian Militia Leader, Government Flesh Out Disarmament Deal

    By Daniel Balint-Kurti
    Associated Press Writer

    LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – A militia leader in Nigeria’s troubled oil-rich south reaffirmed his commitment to disarm his fighters, saying Saturday that he had met with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to flesh out an arms-for-cash deal.

    Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, who claims 2,000 fighters in his Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, originally agreed to disarm early last month, after clashes between his group, rival militias and the Nigerian army led to an estimated 500 deaths.

    More recently, he seemed to backtrack, demanding the government first prove its commitment to meeting his demands for greater autonomy for the Niger Delta and a greater share of its vast oil wealth.

    Speaking a day after talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, with Obasanjo and the governor of Rivers State, Dokubo-Asari said he had “agreed to tentatively to disarm.”

    “We are saying we will give up 3,000 rifles,” Dokubo-Asari told The Associated Press.

    Obasanjo and Governor Peter Odili agreed that $1,800 would be paid for each assault rifle handed in, he said. He added that he would demand $8,600 for each machine gun, which he said was how much they cost in the first place.

    Emmanuel Okah, a spokesman for Odili, would not comment on details of the deal, but said the state government was prepared to use “whatever methods it can to make for lasting peace.” officials from the president’s office were not available for comment.

    Although Dokubo-Asari would give no timescale for the disarmament, the military chief of his group, known as General Commander Columbus, said it would start by Friday.

    Dokubo-Asari said he didn’t know whether 3,000 guns would represent a significant part of the arsenal at his disposal.

    Asked whether any political concessions had been made by Obasanjo, he said: “The government has said it will allow freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of movement.”

    “The government will provide the environment for us to pursue the fundamental issues we are talking about,” said Dokubo-Asari.

    He said these were “self-determination” and “a sovereign national conference” – a meeting of all Nigeria’s different ethnic and interest groups, aimed at resolving endemic political unrest.

    In August, Dokubo-Asari’s threats to unleash a “full-scale war” and target international oil firms in the region helped send global oil prices to historic highs.

    Nigeria is the world’s seventh-largest crude exporter and fifth-largest source of U.S. oil imports.

    In March 2003, fighting between rival ethnic militia groups near the port city of Warri – which also drew in government troops – forced oil companies to shut down 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports for weeks. Much of that oil remains shut off.

    AP-ES-10-16-04 2048EDT

    This story can be found at: http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGB3VOFHE0E.html

  • Anonymous

    Nigeria oil delta rebel pulls out of peace deal
    16 Nov 2004 23:58:19 GMT

    Source: Reuters

    (updates with quotes, detail, background)

    By Dino Mahtani

    LAGOS, Nov 17 (Reuters) – A Nigerian warlord who threatened the OPEC nation’s oil industry with “all-out war” said on Wednesday he had pulled out of a peace process with the government because it had failed to disarm a rival warlord.

    Mujahid Dokubo Asari had begun handing over weapons through a disarmament committee set up after a ceasefire was called in September to defuse a growing crisis in the oil producing Niger Delta which had pushed oil prices to record highs above $50.

    But he said the government had lied about how many weapons were handed over by rival warlord Ateke Tom with whom he signed the ceasefire.

    “We have withdrawn from the peace process. There is a deliberate policy on the part of the government for Ateke to keep his guns. Until he gives his guns back there is no peace process,” said Asari by phone from the Rivers state capital Port Harcourt.

    “We will not turn in any more arms,” he said.

    But he added the ceasefire would still hold and he would not resume previous threats against the Nigerian oil industry — the biggest in Africa — saying that a decision would be taken once the government had decided whether to address his accusation.

    “The ceasefire remains, as long as the government respects it,” he said.

    On Tuesday, Asari had said he would stop disarming his forces as part of the peace deal. He said Ateke had only submitted eight rifles to the disarmament committee, while the government said he had submitted more than 600 rifles.

    Asari says he has handed in some 200 rifles and two general purpose machine guns.

    Asari’s Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) fought sporadically with troops and rival militiamen over the past year in the vast wetlands of the eastern delta, but fighting intensified in September when the government sent in thousands of troops to attack his bases.

    The NDPVF says it is fighting for the rights of the delta’s dominant Ijaw people who live mostly in poverty despite the huge oil wealth pumped from their tribal lands.

    The rebel group ordered foreign oil workers to leave the delta in September, pushing crude prices to record highs above $50, before signing a ceasefire a week later.

    Oil companies feared Asari’s insurgency could spread to the western delta, where a separate Ijaw uprising last year forced multinationals to briefly shut 40 percent of Nigeria’s output.

    So far his struggle has limited itself to Rivers state, where Asari is embroiled in a political tussle for power with his former ally, state governor Peter Odili, who he accuses of rigging elections in 2003

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L16523599.htm

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