“The military dictatorship holds down oil-producing areas such as Ogoni by military decrees and the threat or actual use of physical violence so that Shell can wage its ecological war without hindrance… This cozy, if criminal, relationship was perceived to be rudely disrupted by the non-violent struggle of the Ogoni people under MOSOP. The allies decided to bloody the Ogoni in order to stop their example from spreading through the oil-rich Niger Delta.”
– Ken Saro-Wiwa’s closing statement at the trial of the Ogoni 9

             Ogoni man (leader) wearing traditional Edo beads in Ogoni cultural way

Ogoni are a ancient indigenous ethnic group living in in the region of southeast Nigeria. They share common oil-related environmental problems with the Ijaw people of Niger Delta, but Ogonis are not listed in the list of people historically belonging to Niger Delta. They number about 1 million people and live in a 404-square-mile (1,050 km2) homeland which they also refer to as Ogoni, or Ogoniland. Traditionally, Ogoniland consists of six kingdoms: Babbe, Eleme, Gokana, Ken-Khana, Nyo-Khana, and Tai.
The Ogoni are a distinct people who have lived in the Niger Delta for more than 500 years. The Ogoni are an agricultural and fishing society, living in close-knit rural communities in one of the most densely populated areas of Africa.
Ogoni woman inr traditional dress with facial tattto and body tribal marks

The Ogoni people attracted international attention and world wide sympathy when in 1990, Ken Saro-Wiwa, an internationally acclaimed poet, author, and activist from the Niger Delta, began mobilizing his people, the indigenous Ogonis, for nonviolent protest against the Shell Oil Corporation. For more than 20 years oil spills and gas flares from the multinational’s oil explorations had destroyed the environment and the health of the indigenous Ogonis, causing thousands of lost lives. Five years after the start of his campaign, Saro-Wiwa and eight other indigenous Ogoni activists includingBaribor Bera, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gboko, Barinem Kiobel, John Kpuinen, Paul Levura and Felix Nuate were brutally hanged for their peaceful protest on the orders of General Sani Abacha, then military dictator of Nigeria.
Ken Saro-Wiwa

The tragic death of Saro-Wiwa shocked the world. It drew international attention to the human rights of indigenous peoples and the need to hold corporations accountable for complicity in environmental and human rights abuses. It also set the stage for a unique collaborative campaign between Amnesty International and the Sierra Club to protect the human rights of environmentalists and communities-at-risk.

                                               The famous Ogoni 9

On 9 June 2009 Shell agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $15.5 million USD to victims' families. However, the company denied any liability for the deaths, stating that the payment was part of a reconciliation process. In a statement given after the settlement, Shell suggested that the money was being provided to the relatives of Saro-Wiwa and the eight other victims, in order to cover the legal costs of the case and also in recognition of the events that took place in the region. Some of the funding is also expected to be used to set up a development trust for the Ogoni people, who inhabit the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The settlement was made just days before the trial, which had been brought by Ken Saro-Wiwa's son, was due to begin in New York.

                                      Ogoni traditional dancers

There is currently another high ranking petition against Shell by an Ogoni woman (http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/kiobel,see the ruling of US supreme court:supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/)The Petitioner Esther Kiobel, representing a group of individuals from the Ogoni region in Nigeria, filed a class action lawsuit against Respondents, the Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., Shell Transport and Trading Company PLC, and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, LTD (“Royal Dutch”) under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”).

                                        Ogoni elders, Delta State,Nigeria

The alleged facts of the Kiobel case are shocking. The plaintiff, Esther Kiobel, for herself and on behalf of her late husband, Dr. Barinem Kiobel and 10 other Nigerians, claims that Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Co.—along with one of its subsidiaries, and a British firm, Shell Transport and Trading Co.—aided and abetted the Nigerian military dictatorship’s use of murder and torture against opponents of oil exploration in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta between 1992 and 1995.
     See kiobel-ruling-undermines-u-s-leadership-on-human-rights.
Nigerian Ogoni tribe widow Esther Kiobel, a plaintiff in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, cries as she speaks outside the Supreme Court, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


The Ogoni occupy an alluvial plain bounded on the north by the Imo River and their Igbo neighbours, on the South, by the littoral flats inhabited by the Obolo (Andoni), on the east, by the Opobo River and the Ibibio, and on the west by the Ikwere which stretches into the large city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Their occupation consists mainly of farming and fishing.

                                            Ogoni girl selling minerals

The Ogoni  people speak Ogoni languages, or Kegboid languages. According to Roger Blench "Ogoni languages are considered to be part of Cross River, which in turn is part of Benue-Congo and then Niger-Congo." The Ogoni of River States speak the related, mutually intelligible languages of Khana, Gokana, Tae (Tẹẹ), Eleme, and Ban Ogoi. They fall into two clusters, with a limited degree of mutual intelligibility between members of each cluster. However, the Ogoni think of them as separate languages.
Ogoni woman,Delta State, Nigeria

The Eastern languages are Khana and Tẹẹ, with a quarter million or so speakers, and Gokana, with about half that number. The Western languages are Eleme, with about 70,000 speakers, and Baan, with about a tenth that number.
Ogoni language has drawn some attention from general linguists; Hyman (1983) used examples from Gokana in developing his theories of the syllable. More recently, Bond and Anderson (2003) have compared logophoricity in the ‘Ogonoid’ lects. Most striking, however is the presence of a series of numeral
classifiers. Typical of many Asian language families, these are extremely rare in Africa, and their evolution therefore typologically extremely unusual.

                                  Ogoni people
This monograph has two predecessors. Ikoro (1991) reconstructed ‘Kegboid’ [a name constructed from the initials of the four languages (Kana, Eleme, Gokana, Baan) at the time considered to be part of the group. Vọbnu (2001) is not a reconstruction, but provides some valuable information on each dialect and a short comparative word list (partially tone marked). Vọbnu (op. cit.) also includes some cultural background and information on orthographic systems.
Kindly click on this link: http://www.rogerblench.info/Language/Niger-Congo/BC/Cross%20River/Ogoni/Comparative%20Ogonic%20RMB.pdf to learn more about Ogoni language diversity.
Ogoni kids playing on Oil pipe

The true origin of the Ogoni people are not very well-known,research has it that they migrated into the area from across the Imo River while  other  research says that the Ogoni people came in boats from old Ghana Empire and settled in the Atlantic coast eventually making their way over to the eastern Niger Delta. Believers in this theory point to the name by which most of the Ogoni peoples call themselves (Khana) as a pointer to the Ghana origins of the Ogoni people.
Archaeological and linguistic evidence suggests the Ogoni have inhabited the Niger Delta for up to 500 years. Linguistic calculations done by Kay Williams place the Ogoni in the Niger Delta since before 15 BC, making them one of the oldest settlers in the eastern Niger Delta region. Radiocarbon dating taken from sites around Ogoniland and the neighboring communities oral traditions also support this claim. The first village that was formed by the Ogoni people is called Nama in Keh Khana Kingdom.
They established an organized social system which worked under a monarchy and under which men and women of courage and ability enjoyed a special status. During the slave trade, Ogoniland lay on the slave route from the hinterland to the coastal slave markets. However, no Ogoni man or woman was taken as a slave. Marriage with a neighbour, except the Ibibio, was forbidden by Ogoni customs and tradition. This way, the Ogoni people were able to live in relative isolation during the era of the slave trade. When other forms of trade were introduced into the region in the second half of the 19th century, weapons were purchased and wars became the order of the day. After the Berlin Treaty of 1885, Nigeria came under British colonial rule, but it was not until 1901 that British forces arrived in Ogoniland. The cultural diffences led to resistance on the side of the Ogoni people, but as they were not strong enough to resist the British patrols the Ogoni people were finally subjugated in 1914. The British saw Nigeria in terms of three major ethnic groups: the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Igbo, thereby ignoring more then 250 smaller peoples, including the Ogoni. The Ogoni were regarded with contempt by all other groups in the Delta region and were often positioned at the bottom of the social ladder.

The Ogoni were integrated into a succession of economic systems at a pace that was extremely rapid and exacted a great toll from them. At the turn of the twentieth century, “the world to them did not extend beyond the next three or four villages,” but that soon changed. Ken Saro-Wiwa, the late president of MOSOP, described the transition this way: “if you then think that within the space of seventy years they were struck by the combined forces of modernity, colonialism, the money economy, indigenous colonialism and then the Nigerian Civil War, and that they had to adjust to these forces without adequate preparation or direction, you will appreciate the bafflement of the Ogoni people and the subsequent confusion engendered in the society.
Ogoniland had her first graduate and modern political leader in the person of Mr. Timothy Naakue Paul Birabi. A graduate of Mathematics in 1953, late Birabi was a teacher by profession, he organized the Ogoni people to build their own schools and health centers, which included the Birabi Memorial Grammar School (BMGS), the premier high school in Ogoniland. Birabi was the first man to give the Ogoni people the sense of modern organization of the Ogoni affairs. He died in a mysterious circumstance that was linked to his
political activities and co-ordination of the Ogoni people. Paul Birabi taught the Ogoni people  to build their own schools and social amenities and it has thus become a tradition that the Ogoni people are still building their own schools. While the government takes over the management of these schools from them and imposes high school fees that the Ogoni people cannot pay.
The first missionary that came to Ogoni land was Rev. Paul Kingston of the Methodist church in 1926. He studied the Khana language and then went back abroad to develop the alphabets. This enabled him to translate the bible into Khana in 1929. Today the Lutheran Church is about to complete work on the Gokana bible translation as well as the Eleme bible translation. This early foundation played a very key in giving the Ogoni people a realization and need to acquire modern education, and they embraced it according to their resources and strength, depending on community and missionary scholarships to train the first sets of
graduates in the land. This history of organizing a common destiny through the giving of scholarship to deserving persons, community businesses, community projects is what Ken Saro Wiwa argued extensively. Stressing the need to recognized and encouraged as ethnical governance and organization as part of the Nigerian state using a fair proportion of the natural resources in the land for the development of the people as way of protecting the Ogoni as minority group as well other groups. It is this struggle led by Ken Saro Wiwa is what brought the Ogoni people to the world political map
Ogoni fisher woman with cutlass in her hand at Bodo,Niger Delta,Nigeria. Courtesy Scott Peggy

The Ogoni people obviously had elements of other tribes in their culture as a result of interaction and that does not change the fact that they migrated from Ghana.
Comparing the customs and ways of life in the Volta Region of Ghana to those of the Ogoni people, it has been discovered that:
The method of farming in the Volta Region of Ghana and that of the Ogoni people are almost the same. The Volta Region of Ghana farms cassava and yams as their chief crops and so does the Ogoni people. And these two crops are planted in the same ways in the Volta Region of Ghana and in Ogoniland.
There are several villages and communities, whose names are the same as common names, villages and communities in the Ogoniland e.g. (Eleme, Kpone and Bakpo)
The alphabets and pronunciation of some Volta peoples and those of the Ogoni people are the same.
The method and style of building native huts with mud and thatches are the same.

Ogoni History After Nigeria`s Independence
As a result of their small size, a history of poor relations with the Nigerian government and group concentration in a volatile area, the Ogoni are an organized and cohesive group.
The group has received much attention in recent years because of their struggle for compensation from Shell Oil and the Nigerian government for damage to their lands caused by oil spillage. Nigeria's oil industry accounts for 90 percent of its export earning, and even the smallest disruption has been threatening to the government. The Ogonis are located in the Niger Delta region in the city of Port Harcourt. Port Harcourt is the capital city of Rivers State, Nigeria. The Ogoni have not moved very far from their traditional territory (GROUPCON = 3). The Ogoni had autonomy over their territory until 1914, when Britain consolidated the area into the Nigerian Protectorate (AUTLOST = 1.25). Since that point the other larger ethnic groups the Ibo, Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba have dominated the economic and political scene in Nigeria.

The British practiced indirect rule in Nigeria as they had in much of the rest of their colonial states. However, for various reasons, the British favored the Ibo, and this favoritism led to further conflict with other groups when the Ibo were placed in authority positions in the north and southwest. As the press for independence intensified, the Ibo came to support the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. The Yoruba mainly supported the Action Group (AG), and the Hausa/Fulani supported the Northern People's Congress (NPC). The NCNC and NPC formed a coalition that led the country to independence in 1960. The AG was largely marginalized from the federal government during the early years of independence, which led to a renewal of Yoruba factionalism. In January 1966, an Ibo-lead coup took control of the government.

In 1967, disputes between the eastern Ibo region and the government led to a declaration of secession by the eastern region. The independent state of Biafra was declared on 30 May 1967. Led by Lt-Col Ojukwu, the Biafra war lasted until January 1970, when Biafran troops surrendered. It is estimated that 100,000 casualties resulted from the war itself, and that an additional 500,000-2,000,000 civilians died, mainly from starvation, as a result of a blockade by the federal government. Ogoniland was occupied by Biafran troops during the conflict.

Following the Biafra war, civilian rule was restored for a brief time in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Power became more and more entrenched in the hands of northerners during the 1980s and 1990s. On 31 December 1983, Muhammad Buhari led a military coup and banned all political activity in the country. In August 1985, Ibrahim Babangida took power in a peaceful coup.

By 1987, Babangida announced that he was preparing to turn the government back to civilian rule. In June 1993, presidential elections were held in the country. Two parties were allowed to contest the elections: the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The former was led by a northerner Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, an economist and businessman. The latter drew large support from the Yoruba community and was led by a prominent Yoruba businessman, Moshood Abiola. When it became apparent that Moshood Abiola, a prominent Yoruba businessman from the south, was going to be the victor, Babangida declared the elections null and void. Abiola declared himself president, but later fled the country in the wake of death threats against him. Abiola eventually returned to the country and was subsequently arrested on charges of sedition. Nigeria plunged into its worst crisis since the Biafra war from 1967-70. Babangida resigned in August 1993. The government was taken over by an interim council, but the real power was in the hands of General Sani Abacha, then secretary of defense. He led a very oppressive regime under which thousands were jailed and countless numbers killed, particularly in the Niger Delta, where the Ogoni are concentrated.

                             Ogoni man and his family

In the early 1990s, militant activism in the Niger Delta region had emerged as the main strategy in the struggle of the people for a greater share of oil-generated wealth. The Niger Delta region consists of a number of administrative states, including Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa, and is characterized by numerous waterways and mangrove swamps. Until 1993, the Ogoni were politically inactive. Their campaign against Shell oil and the Nigerian government began in June 1993, when thousands of Ogoni held a peaceful protest. Shell shut down some of their operations in the area as a result of continued protests by the Ogoni.

In 1994, four pro-government Ogoni were killed in political violence connected to the national constitutional conference elections. Author and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other leaders of the Ogoni-based Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) were arrested in connection with the deaths. Saro-Wiwa and the others were tried for murder. In an extremely controversial and widely criticized move, they were subsequently executed.

Beginning in 1996, the government of Sani Abacha began to divide Nigerian administrative states into smaller units, and move the headquarters of some administrative units to different cities. These moves led to a rise in conflict between the communities of the Delta region who, already concerned about the lack of development of their communities, felt that the loss of local government offices would give them even less access to resources than they already had. Those in the Delta region have continued to the present because the issue has yet to be resolved. Groups involved in ethnic conflict in the Delta region include the Ijaw, the Urhobo (who are sometimes allies of the Ijaw) and the Isoko.

As noted earlier, the Niger Delta is also the home of the vast majority of Nigeria's oil wells, and for 30 years, multi-national oil corporations (MNCs) have been extracting oil from the country. The groups in the region have long alleged that the wealth of the region has led only to problems for them as the oil companies pollute their land and waterways, and the government does not return enough of the oil revenues to the region either to clean up the damage of the oil companies or to promote development in general.

Sani Abacha died in June 1998. Within a month of taking power, the new military leader, Abdusalam Abubakar, released some political prisoners, held talks with opposition groups, and announced that general, multi-party elections would be held in order for a civilian president to take over. As of 1999, Nigeria had been under civilian rule for only 14 years of its existence as an independent state. Presidential elections were held in March 1999 in which former military leader and Yoruban Olusegun Obasanjo was declared the victor. Shortly after the election, he set up a panel to investigate the abuses of the previous 15 years of military regimes. In the Delta region and the Muslim north, thousands were killed in communal conflict or anti-state activity during the 1990s.

                              Ogoni fisherman

One paradox in the Delta region is that the ethnic groups of the region are often in conflict with one another over resources and government access, yet are also allied against the government and the oil companies in the Delta in various organizations. These include the Chikoko Movement, comprised of Ijaw, Itsekiri, Ogoni, Andoni and Ilage, and the Odua' People's Congress, a national self-determination movement advocating greater federalism. Beginning in 1997, these organizations were very active in pressuring the government for a greater share of oil revenues, and for greater political and economic control over their land. They are often militant, seizing oil installations and kidnapping oil workers. Their actions against the state itself are rarely violent, though their members are often involved in violence against rival ethnic groups.

The Ogoni are confronted with both demographic and ecological disadvantages. Compared to the majority of Nigerians the majority of the region are without basic infrastructure, due to continually declining health conditions have a lower life expectancy, and face environmental problems due to the high levels of pollution in the Niger Delta. Due to the repressive actions taken by the Nigerian government in the past and present, many Ogoni have left the region entirely. Many of the restrictions that the Ogoni faced have been removed since the elections of 1999 and international awareness of their plight. In the past, nonetheless, the group is still excluded by the majority of the country in political and economic matters due to historical neglect, and no policies were in effect to remedy the situation (POLDIS01-03 = 2). However, in recent years there have been negotiations involving representatives of the Ogoni's, Shell Oil and the Nigerian government to take redressive action to compensate the Ogoni for years of environmental degradation. (POLDIS04-06 = 1)

                               Ogoni woman and her kids at ther back of Okada

The different ethnic groups in the Niger Delta region have faced severe repression by the government both before and after the transition to democracy in 1999. In 1999 there were reprisal killings by military and police units in the Niger Delta, torture and rape was used against the the different ethnic groups in the region. The Nigerian military effectively sealed off the area to outsiders after the Ogoni became vocal in their demands, and Ogoniland became a militarized region. In 2000 an Ogoni leader's house was destroyed and he was arrested. As of the end of 1999, at least 2,000 Ogoni had been killed since their peaceful protests against Shell Oil began. In the period 2001-2003, the level of repression against the group seemed to have decreased, although some arrests and high degree of military and police presence continued.

The group has managed to avoid conflict with other ethnic groups in the region recently, since it appears that most of the groups in the region have common enemies in the large oil companies in the Delta, and the government. This has not always been the case for during the early 1990s there was communal conflict between the Ogoni and Andoni, another small ethnic group in the south.

The main group representing the Ogoni is the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which was led by Ken Saro-Wiwa before his execution. The MOSOP strategies for change involved nonviolent means. The group has consistently accused Shell of causing major environmental damage to the area. Shell denies the problem is as big as the Ogoni claim, but independent environmental assessments of the area before it was closed to outsiders in 1993 support the Ogoni claim of extensive environmental damage. Some of the damage includes leaking pipelines, polluted water, oil in villagers' fields, air pollution, flooding resulting from the building of canals for the oil industry and disruptions of fresh water supplies.

                      Ogoni people showing how their environment has been polluted

The Nigerian government has long refused to negotiate with MOSOP, claiming it was not a legitimate organization. Further, the oil companies of the region appeared at times to be in complicity with the government, possibly even involved in some of the violence against the Ogoni people. The group seems to not receive much considerable material support from other kindred groups or transnational organizations. There is much rhetorical support from exiled Ogoni's in other areas of the world, such as Canada, U.K. and the U.S. Additionally, there are many non-governmental organizations which work to promote the condition of the group and provide information on their campaign against Shell.
Ogoni woman fetches water from afar to cross river. This river is polluted and she cant consume it.

The Ogoni are an agricultural and fishing society. Yam and cassava farming are important ways of making a living, although the revenues of these products are not very high. The most important export product of Nigeria is oil, but the Ogoni people have never profited from these exports.

 two women and their children cleaning cassava, one of the main staple crops in Bodo,Gokana,Niger delta

Once the 'food basket' for the Niger Delta and beyond, Ogoniland's agricultural production has now been severely reduced. This is partly due to loss of farmlands through oil polution and partly to soil fertility problems arising from acid/alkaline rain caused by gas flaring. Large areas of fresh and salt water resources as fishing grounds have also been rendered useless by oil spills. Food is becoming increasingly expensive and potential farmers are too poor to pay for seeds and labour.

                                   Ogoni fisherman with wood

Poverty has worsened in the Ogoni areas during the last years. Nearly all oil workers are people coming from outside the area whom the local people have had to compete with for basic commodities. Besides the oil installations and refineries there are no manufacturing industries in Ogoni to reduce unemployment. This situation increasingly results in psycho-social degradation.

                                Mat makers,Ogoniland,Nigeria

There are no government projects to address the problems of development in Ogoni-land. Health facilities are almost non-existent and school buildings are collapsing with the classrooms and laboratories empty. Attracting foreign aid to Ogoni-land has been difficult and a couple of community self-help initiatives by the people were branded 'MOSOP-inspired' and stopped.
Ogoni-land is in total economic isolation by the government and most roads have been left to wear, making transportation extremely difficult.

The environmental costs of the oil exploration have been and still are, very high. The agricultural and fishing communities experienced huge oil spills and pollution of drinking water, fishing grounds and farmlands. Large flares burnt gas from the oil extraction process, illuminating the sky day and night and polluting the air. The 1970's brought increasing activity from the oil companies, claiming more space in an already crowded territory, and resulting in a deteriorating environment and in decreasing crop yields and fish catches.

The Ogoni people believe and worship a Supreme Deity and creator called Waa Bari. Ogoni people regards Waa Bari as a female God. Her role and position stems from traditional thinking about creativity and motherhood. According to Paul Bedey:
"… the Ogoni people have the implicit belief that this female creator resides in the earth and that man and all animals and plants are created out of the earth. All libations and incarnation to Waa Bari are poured on the earth and it is believed she receives it as the wine or water sinks down into the earth. The dead are buried in the earth to return to Waa Bari Ogoni from where they come. It is clear in the traditional belief of the people that Waa Bari Ogoni is omnipotent and omniscient ."
Ogoni (Eleme) girl dancing

The land on which they live and the rivers that surround them are very important to the Ogoni people. They not only provided enough food, they are also believed to be a god and are worshiped as such.
This explains why the Ogoni people have so many difficulties with the degradation of the environment as a result of oil pollution.
Ogoni people

The fruit of the land, especially yams, are honoured in festivals. The annual festival of the Ogoni people is held during the period of the yam harvest.
The planting season is not just a period of agricultural activity, but it is a spiritual, religious and social occasion. 'Tradition' in Ogoni means in the local tongue (doonu kuneke) the honouring of the land. The Ogoni people believe that the soul of every human being has the ability to leave its human form and enter into that of an animal, taking on the shape of that animal. These characteristics show that nature is very important for the Ogoni people.

Socially, the Ogoni is endowed with a large variety of cultural practices. These include masks and masquerades, human figure representation of the ancestors, as maybe used in Ka-elu performances and the puppet shows which are performed exclusively by the Amanikpo Society. Majority of these cultural performances in this relatively small region are extraordinarily varied. Most if not all, Ogoni villages have their own festivals, some of long standing, others introduced within living memory. The festivals are mainly held to commemorate the founding of the villages, to pay allegiance to particular ancestral land or water spirits, to mark the planting and harvesting seasons, for the fertility deity, to recognize the taking of titles, to restore peace in troubled community, to maintain cohesion within social groupings and for general entertainment.
The Karikpo Mask/Masquerade
Of all their known festivals and masquerades, the mask style for which the Ogoni are probably most renowned is the one called Karikpo. The Marikpo mask represents animals and is worn on the front of the face by men and boys. It is used for vigorous acrobatic play, performed originally during planting and harvesting seasons for fertility, new yam festivals, and burial ceremonies of members and recently for Christmas and New year celebrations, including reception for a distinguished guest or an illustrious son. The masquerade

The Ogoni are renown for their carved masks and traditional dancers are an important part of many ceremonies in Bodo. Shown here are members of the Kanutete cultural dance group in 2002.

Performance is believed, especially in Khana to have originated in a certain community known as Bien-Gwara. Although there may not be substantial proof to this, but it is believed the community’s interaction with the Ibibios of Akwa Ibom State, where Ekpo mask has its provenance, may have influenced its adaptation and modification hence its name Kari (Carved) Kpo (Ekpo). Membership into the Karikpo Society does not require an elaborate ritual or initiation, but an intending member is made to provide items like a bottle of gin, palm wine, a plate of oiled fish. These would be eaten by the members who then accepts him as one
of them

                               Ogoni chiefs
(Otuka, V. 2007, ‘Karikpo masquerade of the Ogoni’, The Guardian (Nigeria)
website, 14 July http://www.guardiannewsngr.com/life_style/article18/140707 – – Accessed 14
November 2007 – Attachment 4).

Human Rights Violations
The Ogoni people have been victims of human right violations for many years. In 1956, four years before Nigerian Independence, Royal Dutch/Shell in collaboration with the British government found a commercially viable oil field on the Niger Delta and began oil production in 1958. In a 15 year period from 1976-1991 there were reportedly 2, 976 oil spills of about 2.1 million barrels of oil in Ogoniland accounting for about 40% of the total oil spills of the Royal Dutch/Shell company worldwide. In an assessment of over 200 locations in Ogoniland done by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), they found that the 50 years of oil production in the region extended deeper than some may have predicted. Because of oil spills, oil flaring, and waste discharge, the once alluvial soil of the Niger Delta is no longer viable for agricultural use and attributes to wide spread land degradation. Furthermore, many areas which seemed to be unaffected, groundwater tested to have high levels of hydrocarbons or were contaminated with benzene a carcinogen at 900 levels above WHO guilelines. UNEP estimated that it could take up to 30 years to rehabilitate Ogoniland to its full potential and that the first five years of rehabilitation would require funding of about $1 billion dollars U.S. In 2012, the current Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Alison-Madueke, announced the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, which intends to follow the UNEP report suggestions of Ogoniland to prevent further degradation.

                                Ogoni woman,Esther Kiobel

In 1990 under the leadership of activist and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Movement of the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) planned to take action against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the oil companies. In October 1990, MOSOP presented The Ogoni Bill of Rights, to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Bill hoped to gain political and economic autonomy for the Ogoni people, leaving them in control of the natural resources of Ogoniland and to protect the environment from further land degradation. In 1993, following protests that were designed to stop contractors from laying a new pipeline for Shell, the Mobile Police Force men (MPF) raided the area to quell the unrest. In the chaos that followed, it has been alleged that 27 villages were raided, resulting in the death of 2,000 Ogoni people and displacement of 80,000

                                  Ogoni man,Ken Saro-Wiwa jnr,son of famous Ken Saro Wiwa

Kenule "Ken" Beeson Saro Wiwa (10 October 1941 – 10 November 1995) was a Nigerian writer, television producer, environmental activist, and winner of the Right Livelihood Award and the Goldman Environmental Prize. Saro-Wiwa was a member of the Ogoni people, an ethnic minority in Nigeria whose homeland, Ogoniland, in the Niger Delta has been targeted for crude oil extraction since the 1950s and which has suffered extreme environmental damage from decades of indiscriminate petroleum waste dumping.

Initially as spokesperson, and then as President, of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Saro-Wiwa led a nonviolent campaign against environmental degradation of the land and waters of Ogoniland by the operations of the multinational petroleum industry, especially the Royal Dutch Shell company. He was also an outspoken critic of the Nigerian government, which he viewed as reluctant to enforce environmental regulations on the foreign petroleum companies operating in the area.
Ken Saro-Wiwa

At the peak of his non-violent campaign, Saro-Wiwa was arrested, hastily tried by a special military tribunal, and hanged in 1995 by the military government of General Sani Abacha, all on charges widely viewed as entirely politically motivated and completely unfounded. His execution provoked international outrage and resulted in Nigeria's suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations for over three years.
Ken Saro-Wiwa with his father and his two sons
                                          Ken with his father and sons
Early life
A son of Ogoni chieftain Jim Wiwa, Ken was born in Bori, in the Niger Delta. He spent his childhood in an Anglican home and eventually proved himself to be an excellent student; he attended secondary school at Government College Umuahia and on completion obtained a scholarship to study English at the University of Ibadan and briefly became a teaching assistant at the University of Lagos.
Maria, wife of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa  [Image: Remember Saro-Wiwa www.remembersarowiwa.com]
Ken Saro-Wiwa`s mother

However, he soon took up a government post as the Civilian Administrator for the port city of Bonny in the Niger Delta, and during the Nigerian Civil War was a strong supporter of the federal cause against the Biafrans. His best known novel, Sozaboy: A Novel in Rotten English, tells the story of a naive village boy recruited to the army during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970, and intimates the political corruption and patronage in Nigeria's military regime of the time. Saro-Wiwa's war diaries, On a Darkling Plain, document his experience during the war. He was also a successful businessman and television producer. His satirical television series, Basi & Company, was wildly popular, with an estimated audience of 30 million Nigerians.
In the early 1970s Saro-Wiwa served as the Regional Commissioner for Education in the Rivers State Cabinet, but was dismissed in 1973 because of his support for Ogoni autonomy. In the late 1970s, he established a number of successful business ventures in retail and real-estate, and during the 1980s concentrated primarily on his writing, journalism and television production.
                                         Ken Saro-Wiwa and his junior brother with their father,Pa Beesom

 His intellectual work was interrupted in 1987 when he re-entered the political scene, appointed by the newly installed dictator Ibrahim Babangida to aid the country's transition to democracy. But Saro-Wiwa soon resigned because he felt Babangida's supposed plans for a return to democracy were disingenuous. Saro-Wiwa's sentiments were proven correct in the coming years, as Babangida failed to relinquish power. In 1993, Babangida annulled Nigeria's general elections that would have transferred power to a civilian government, sparking mass civil unrest and eventually forcing him to step down, at least officially, that same year.
Noo Saro-Wiwa, daughter of the human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in Nigeria in 1995. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

In 1990, Saro-Wiwa began devoting most of his time to human rights and environmental causes, particularly in Ogoniland. He was one of the earliest members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which advocated for the rights of the Ogoni people. The Ogoni Bill of Rights, written by MOSOP, set out the movement's demands, including increased autonomy for the Ogoni people, a fair share of the proceeds of oil extraction, and remediation of environmental damage to Ogoni lands. In particular, MOSOP struggled against the degradation of Ogoni lands by Shell oil company.
In 1992, Saro-Wiwa was imprisoned for several months, without trial, by the Nigerian military government.
Saro-Wiwa was Vice Chair of Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) General Assembly from 1993 to 1995. UNPO is an international, nonviolent, and democratic organization (of which MOSOP is a member). Its members are indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognised or occupied territories who have joined together to protect and promote their human and cultural rights, to preserve their environments and to find nonviolent solutions to conflicts which affect them.
In January 1993, MOSOP organized peaceful marches of around 300,000 Ogoni people – more than half of the Ogoni population – through four Ogoni centres, drawing international attention to his people's plight. The same year the Nigerian government occupied the region militarily.

Arrest and execution
Saro-Wiwa was arrested again and detained by Nigerian authorities in June 1993, but was released after a month. On 21 May 1994 four Ogoni chiefs (all on the conservative side of a schism within MOSOP over strategy) were brutally murdered. Saro-Wiwa had been denied entry to Ogoniland on the day of the murders, but he was arrested and accused of incitement to them.
 He denied the charges, but was imprisoned for over a year before being found guilty and sentenced to death by a specially convened tribunal. The same happened to other MOSOP leaders: (Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine).
Ken Wiwa and his grandfather Pa Beesom Wiwa [Image: Pascal Maitre/Cosmos]
Ken Saro-Wiwa`s father,Pa BeesomBefore his death, Mr Saro-Wiwa's father, Pa Beesom, refused to meet a commission investigating the hangings. "There's no point," he said. "They cannot bring my son back."

Nearly all of the defendants' lawyers resigned in protest against the trial's cynical rigging by the Abacha regime. The resignations left the defendants to their own means against the tribunal, which continued to bring witnesses to testify against Saro-Wiwa and his peers. Many of these supposed witnesses later admitted that they had been bribed by the Nigerian government to support the criminal allegations. At least two witnesses who testified that Saro-Wiwa was involved in the murders of the Ogoni elders later recanted, stating that they had been bribed with money and offers of jobs with Shell to give false testimony – in the presence of Shell’s lawyer.
Ken Saro Wiwa

The trial was widely criticised by human rights organizations and, half a year later, Ken Saro-Wiwa received the Right Livelihood Award  for his courage as well as the Goldman Environmental Prize
Very few observers were surprised when the tribunal declared a "guilty" verdict, but most were shocked that the penalty would be death by hanging for all nine defendants. Many were sceptical that the punishments would actually occur, as the Nigerian government would face international outrage and possible sanctions and other legal action should the penalties be carried out. But on 10 November 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders (the "Ogoni Nine") were killed by hanging at the hands of military personnel. According to most accounts, Saro-Wiwa was the last to be hanged and so was forced to watch the death of his colleagues. Information on the circumstances of Saro-Wiwa's own death are unclear, but it is generally agreed that multiple attempts were required before he died.
In his satirical piece Africa Kills Her Sun first published in 1989, Saro-Wiwa in a resigned, melancholic mood foreshadowed his own execution: this came to pass few years later on 10 November 1995 when he was hanged by the then military regime.
His death provoked international outrage and the immediate suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as the calling back of many foreign diplomats for consultation. The United States and other countries considered imposing economic sanctions on Nigeria.
A memorial to Saro-Wiwa was unveiled in London on 10 November 2006. It consists of a sculpture in the form of a bus, and was created by Nigerian-born artist Sokari Douglas Camp. It toured the UK the following year.

Family lawsuits against Royal Dutch Shell
Beginning in 1996, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), EarthRights International (ERI), Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman and other human rights attorneys have brought a series of cases to hold Shell accountable for alleged human rights violations in Nigeria, including summary execution, crimes against humanity, torture, inhumane treatment and arbitrary arrest and detention. The lawsuits are brought against Royal Dutch Shell and Brian Anderson, the head of its Nigerian operation.
The cases were brought under the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 statute giving non-U.S. citizens the right to file suits in U.S. courts for international human rights violations, and the Torture Victim Protection Act, which allows individuals to seek damages in the U.S. for torture or extrajudicial killing, regardless of where the violations take place.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York set a trial date of June 2009. On 9 June 2009 Shell agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $15.5 million USD to victims' families. However, the company denied any liability for the deaths, stating that the payment was part of a reconciliation process. In a statement given after the settlement, Shell suggested that the money was being provided to the relatives of Saro-Wiwa and the eight other victims, in order to cover the legal costs of the case and also in recognition of the events that took place in the region. Some of the funding is also expected to be used to set up a development trust for the Ogoni people, who inhabit the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The settlement was made just days before the trial, which had been brought by Ken Saro-Wiwa's son, was due to begin in New York.
                                     Ken Saro-wiwa jnr, son of ken Saro-wiwa

A biography, In the Shadow of a Saint: A Son's Journey to Understanding His Father's Legacy, was written by his son, journalist Ken Wiwa. Published in September 2005, shortly before the tenth anniversary of Saro-Wiwa's execution, Canadian author J. Timothy Hunt's The Politics of Bones documented the flight of Saro-Wiwa's brother Owens Wiwa, after his brother's execution and his own imminent arrest, to London and then on to Canada, where he is now a citizen and continues his brother's fight on behalf of the Ogoni people. Moreover, it is also the story of Owens' personal battle against the Nigerian government to locate his brother's remains after they were buried in an unmarked mass-grave. Ken Saro-Wiwa's own diary, A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary, was published in January 1995, two months after his execution. A book of essays about him entitled Before I Am Hanged: Ken Saro-Wiwa, Literature, Politics, and Dissent was published by Africa World Press in December 1999. More information on the struggles of the Ogoni people can be found in the book Ogoni's Agonies: Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Crisis in Nigeria (ISBN 0-86543-647-9).
The late Ken Saro-Wiwa  [Image: Remember Saro-Wiwa www.remembersarowiwa.com]


—— (1973). Tambari. Ikeja: Longman Nigeria. ISBN 978-0-582-60135-2.
—— (1985). Songs in a Time of War. Port Harcourt: Saros. ISBN 978-978-2460-00-4.
—— (1986). Sozaboy: A Novel in Rotten English. Port Harcourt: Saros. ISBN 978-978-2460-02-8.
—— (1987). Mr. B. Port Harcourt: Saros. ISBN 978-1-870716-01-7.
—— (1987). Basi and Company: A Modern African Folktale. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: Saros. ISBN 978-1-870716-00-0.
—— (1987). Basi and Company: Four Television Plays. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: Saros. ISBN 978-1-870716-03-1.
—— (1988). Prisoners of Jebs. Port Harcourt [u.a.]: Saros. ISBN 978-1-870716-02-4.
—— (1989). Adaku & Other Stories. London: Saros International. ISBN 1-870716-10-8.
—— (1989). Four Farcical Plays. London: Saros International. ISBN 1-870716-09-4.
—— (1989). On a Darkling Plain: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War. Epsom: Saros. ISBN 1-870716-11-6.
—— (1992). Genocide in Nigeria: The Ogoni Tragedy. London: Saros. ISBN 1-870716-22-1.
—— (1995). A Forest of Flowers: Short Stories. Burnt Mill, Harlow, Essex, England: Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-27320-7.
—— (1995). A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-025914-8.
—— (1996). Lemona's Tale. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-026086-1.
——; Adinoyi-Ojo, Onukaba (2005). A Bride for Mr B. London: Saros. ISBN 1-870716-26-4.
In popular culture

The Life & Death of Ken Saro-Wiwa: a history of the struggle for justice in the Niger Delta
The account given here is based on a previous document published by Project Underground. Shell started producing oil in the Delta in 1958. In 1970 the first seeds of the current conflict were sown when Ogoni Chiefs handed a petition to the local Military Governor complaining about Shell, then operating a joint venture with BP. According to the petition, the company was “seriously threatening the well-being, and even the very lives” of the Ogoni. That year there was a major blow-out at the Bomu oilfield in Ogoni. It continued for three weeks, causing widespread pollution and outrage.
By the eighties other communities were beginning to protest. The Iko people wrote to Shell in 1980 demanding “compensation and restitution of our rights to clean air, water and a viable environment where we can source for our means of livelihood.” Two years later, when the Iko organised a peaceful rally against Shell, the company called the police.
In 1987, when the Iko once again held a peaceful demonstration against Shell, the notorious Mobile Police Force (MPF), locally known as “kill-and-go” was called. 40 houses were destroyed and 350 people were made homeless by the MPF’s attack.

In August 1990, the Ogoni elders signed the Ogoni Bill of Rights, which called for “political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people, control and use of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development, adequate and direct representation as of right for Ogoni people in all Nigerian national institutions and the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation”. That year the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), a non-violent action group, was formed. Community protests against Shell continued to spread across the Delta. Next was the turn of the Etche at Umuechem.
In response to a peaceful demonstration, Shell specifically requested the presence of the MPF, who subsequently massacred up to 80 people and destroyed nearly 500 homes. The community submission to the official inquiry into the disaster argued that Shell’s “drilling operations have had serious adverse effects on the Umuechem people who are predominantly farmers …Their farmlands are covered by oil spillage/blow-out and rendered unsuitable for farming”.
 Anti-Shell protests spread to other communities including the Omudiogo, Ogbia, Igbide, Izon, Irri, Uzure, and Ijaw.

By the early nineties, the Ogoni, led by Saro-Wiwa, were beginning to seek international help for their plight. By now, Saro-Wiwa, who was primarily an author and businessman, was spending more and more of his time abroad, including in the US and Europe, drumming up support for the Ogoni. In August 1991, exactly a year after first being signed, the Ogoni Bill of Rights was amended to authorize MOSOP to make an appeal to the international community for assistance, after they had received no reply from the Nigerian military government.
In July 1992, Saro-Wiwa addressed the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva. “I speak on behalf of the Ogoni people. You will forgive me if I am somewhat emotional about this matter. I am Ogoni … Petroleum was discovered in Ogoni in 1958 and since then an estimated 100 billion dollars worth of oil and gas has been carted away from Ogoniland. In return for this the Ogoni people have received nothing.”

As part of his evidence to the UN Working Group, Saro-Wiwa submitted the Ogoni Bill of Rights and a new book he had published, called “Genocide in Nigeria: The Ogoni Tragedy.” In  the book, Saro-Wiwa wrote about how he had watched helplessly as the Ogoni had “been gradually ground to dust by the combined effort of the multi-national oil company, Shell Petroleum Development Company, the murderous ethnic majority in Nigeria and the country’s military dictatorships”. He wrote of Shell’s double standards, comparing the standards of its Nigerian operations to its European ones. Because of this, and the affect oil was having on the Ogoni, he accused Shell of genocide and racism.
By the Autumn of 1992 the Ogoni were gearing up their campaign against the oil industry. In October Saro-Wiwa was in London again. “It’s just going to get worse, unless the international community intervenes”, he warned15. The following month on 3 December, MOSOP presented its demands to those oil companies operating in Ogoniland, including Shell, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Chevron. The companies had to pay back-royalties and compensation within 30 days or quit Ogoniland.

                                            Ken Saro-Wiwa jnr
Ogoni Day – Saro-Wiwa’s Execution
But of course the oil companies did not quit. So the 4th January 1993, some 300,000 Ogoni celebrated the Year of Indigenous Peoples by peacefully protesting against Shell's activities and the environmental destruction of Ogoniland. It remains the largest demonstration against an oil company ever. “We have woken up to find our lands devastated by agents of death called oil companies. Our atmosphere has been totally polluted, our lands degraded, our waters contaminated, our trees poisoned, so much so that our flora and fauna have virtually disappeared”, said an Ogoni leader to the crowd17. 4th January became known as Ogoni Day. Leaked minutes of meetings held by Shell the following month indicate that the company was
worried by the protests. The minutes show that Shell departments in London and Nigeria were “to keep each other more closely informed to ensure that movements of key players, what they say and to whom is more effectively monitored to avoid unpleasant surprises and adversely affect the reputation of the Group as a whole”.
By April 1993 Saro-Wiwa had been arrested twice. Willbros, a contractor working for Shell, called in government troops in response to the demonstrations by the Ogoni. Eleven people were injured when the security forces opened fire. One woman, Karalolo Korgbara, later lost her arm. According to a letter from Willbros to Shell “Fortunately there was a military presence to control the situation”. A month later, another Ogoni was shot dead and a further twenty were injured. Shell later admitted that “fields allowances and transportation” of an army unit were provided by Willbros, but denied that this unit were involved in the shooting. Amnesty International later issued an “Urgent Action” request, concerned about possible extra-judicial executions by the military against Ogoni protestors.
Saro-Wiwa was repeatedly denied from travelling abroad and in June he was arrested again and charged with six counts of unlawful assembly and conspiring to publish a seditious pamphlet. Soldiers were moved into Port Harcourt, in response to demonstrations about the arrests. MOSOP reported indiscriminate beatings and arrests. Saro-Wiwa’s health deteriorated in custody, resulting in him being moved to hospital and suffering serious heart problems during interrogation. He complained of “psychological torture”. Saro-Wiwa later published an account of his detention in a book called “A Month and a Day”.
By now the Ogoni were suffering escalating violence, ostensibly it was conflicts with neighbouring tribes, but much of the violence was being orchestrated by the military. MOSOP blamed the military for inciting the clashes and Shell for its complicity in the violence. Throughout the year the attacks by neighbouring tribes against the Ogoni continued. So did the violence against protestors. In October 93, two Ogoni were wounded, and one killed by soldiers, who had been transported by Shell, in the company's words, to “dialogue” with the community.

These soldiers from the 2nd Amphibious Brigade, under the control of the notorious Major Okuntimo, were paid “field allowances” by Shell, although Shell has expressed “doubt as to whether any member of the community was shot or wounded.” Saro-Wiwa’s brother, Owens, who is a doctor, carried out the autopsy. Harassment of other key Ogoni continued too. In December, Owens Wiwa and senior MOSOP official, Ledum Mitee were arrested and detained without charge until the 4th January.
When General Aback took over control of Nigeria in the autumn of 1993, the situation worsened for MOSOP. Abacha appointed the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force under Lt.Col Komo and Major Okuntimo. (Its members were re drawn from the Second Amphibious Brigade, Port Harcourt and members of the MPF, air force and navy.) In April a memo was sent from Komo to Okuntimo, entitled “Restoration of Law and Order in Ogoniland”. It gave details for an extensive military presence in Ogoni, drawing resources from the army, air force, navy, and police, including both the Mobile Police Force and conventional units. In a move meant to facilitate the reopening of oil installations, one of the missions of this
operation was to ensure that those “carrying out business ventures ... within Ogoniland are not molested”.
Saro-Wiwa, commenting on the memo above, said “This is it -- they are going to arrest us all and execute us. All for Shell”. The following month Okuntimo sent a “restricted” memo back to Komo remarking that “Shell operations still impossible unless ruthless military operations are undertaken for smooth economic activities to commence”. To counter this, Okuntimo recommended: “Wasting operations during MOSOP and other gatherings making constant military presence justifiable.”
Nine days after Okuntimo’s memo, on 21st May, four conservative Ogoni leaders were killed in Gokana, giving the military an excuse to “justify” a military presence, to undertake “wasting operations. There is no doubt the killings of the Ogoni leaders were brutal. According to Human Rights Watch “ These men were reportedly attacked by a mob and beaten and hacked to death, but the precise chain of events leading to the murders is a source of great controversy”.

There are “disputed” reports as to what happened that day, according to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) that sent a delegation to Ogoni in 1995 “with questions raised by other circumstances around the murders”. One of these was the tension between the Gokana Ogoni chiefs and MOSOP, but MOSOP denied any involvement in the killings.
Andrew Rowell writing in the book Green Backlash argues that: “Other suspicious happenings occurred that day too, which have led MOSOP to believe that the whole event was a complete set-up. Eye witness accounts talk of Ogoni ‘filled with soldiers’ in the morning before the killings, as if they were waiting for something to happen. These security forces did nothing when alerted of the disturbances to prevent the killings, although they were asked to quash the growing dissent. …There are too many other coincidences to suggest that agent provocateurs were not used, although conclusive proof will probably never be discernible.”

An anonymous Ogoni interviewed for the film “Delta Force” shown on Channel Four in the UK on 4th May 1995 recalls how: “Everywhere was quiet and then on the morning of May 21st … as we woke up in the morning most of the Ogoni villages were filled with soldiers and mobile policemen armed with sophisticated weapons. We don’t know why they just came, it was only when 4 prominent Ogoni sons were killed later in the afternoon of that day that we Ogoni ever knew that there was a grand design to cause disturbances in Ogoni in order to create an excuse for the government to send in more troops”.
The following day, Saro-Wiwa, Ledum Mitee and several others were arrested in connection to the deaths, although not formally charged. Amnesty International issued a statement that SaroWiwa's arrest was “part of the continuing suppression by the Nigerian authorities of the Ogoni people's campaign against the oil companies” and declared Saro-Wiwa a “prisoner of conscience - held because of his non-violent political activities.”

Whilst Saro-Wiwa was routinely tortured in prison, put in leg-irons, and denied access to family, friends, a lawyer and medication, the Internal Security Task Force, “ostensibly searching for those directly responsible for the killings”, started “deliberately terrorising the whole community, assaulting and beating indiscriminately”, according to Amnesty International. Over the next few months, hundreds of Ogoni were arrested, beaten, intimidated and killed. Many young girls, older women and pregnant women were raped. Thousands fled in terror into the bush as Okuntimo's soldiers looted hundreds of villages destroying houses in a systematic campaign of terror to “sanitize Ogoni”. Okuntimo told a British environmentalist he detained that “he was doing it all for Shell ... But he was not happy because the last time he had asked Shell to pay his
men their out-station allowances he had been refused which was not the usual procedure”.
Later that year Saro-Wiwa and MOSOP were awarded the “Right Livelihood Award” (known as the alternative Nobel peace prize), for Saro-Wiwa’s “exemplary and selfless courage and in striving non-violently for the civil, economic and environmental rights of his people”. Some eight months after being arrested in January 1995, Saro-Wiwa and four other Ogoni were finally charged with the murder of the four Ogoni leaders.

The following month an affidavit was signed by one of the two chief prosecution witnesses, Charles Danwi. It alleged that he had been bribed by Shell and others to testify against SaroWiwa. It read: “He was told that he would be given a house, a contract from Shell and Ompadec and some money ... He was given 30,000 Naira ... At a later meeting security agents, government officials and …representatives of Shell and Ompadec were all present”. Another affidavit from the other Chief prosecution witness, Nayone Akpa, was signed alleging that he was offered “30,000 Naira, employment with the Gokana Local Government, weekly allowances and contracts with Ompadec and Shell” if he signed a document that implicated Saro-Wiwa too.
Shell of course denies bribing the prosecution witnesses, but it was meeting secretly with the Nigerian military and government. In March 1995, a meeting took place between four senior Shell officials, the Nigerian High Commissioner and the Nigerian Army and Police at the Shell Centre in London where a strategy was planned against the protests.
But the protests continued. Saro-Wiwa's brother, Owens Wiwa, secretly met the head of Shell
Nigeria, Brian Anderson between May and July in order to explore ways of securing SaroWiwa's release. Anderson told Owens that “He would be able to help us get Ken freed if we stopped the protest campaign abroad”.
The military tribunal / trial against Saro-Wiwa and the others started in February 1995, when the men were finally allowed to see their lawyers. In May 1995, Saro-Wiwa smuggled a letter out of a military hospital. He wrote “For two nights I have not slept a wink, I am being intimidated, harassed and de-humanized, even though I am supposed to be receiving medical attention ... I am like Ogoni, battered, bruised, brutalized, bloodied and almost buried”.
A Report into Saro-Wiwa’s trial written by leading British counsel, Michael Birnbaum QC, concluded “It is my view that the breaches of fundamental rights are so serious as to arouse grave concern that any trial before this tribunal will be fundamentally flawed and unfair”. Amongst many misgivings, Birnbaum was particularly concerned about the undue influence of Major Okuntimo at the trial. In Late October, Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni were sentenced to death. Six of the fifteen defendants were released, including Ledum Mitee, Vice President of MOSOP.

                                       Esther Kiobel
Saro-Wiwa wrote for his closing testimony at the trial: “I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The Company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the Company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the Company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished”.
As leaders of the Commonwealth gathered in Auckland, the Nigerian government's Provisional Ruling Council confirmed the death sentences. Despite Shell’s repeated claims it could not get involved in the legal process in Nigeria, the company issued a statement in response to the confirmation of the death sentences which acknowledged that a letter had been sent to Abacha asking for clemency.
On ten November 1995 Saro-Wiwa and eight others were executed in defiance of international appeals for leniency. There was international condemnation and outrage against both the military junta and Shell. The condemnation led to the strengthening of limited sanctions, and Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth. U.K. Prime Minister John Major, described the trial as “a fraudulent trial, a bad verdict, an unjust sentence. It has now been followed by judicial murder”.

After the Execution
Just days after the murder, Shell announced that it would press ahead with a $3.8 billion liquid natural gas project in Nigeria. “There have been suggestions that the project should be deferred or cancelled because of recent events in Nigeria. But you have to be clear who would be hurt,” said Shell. Greenpeace criticized the move as sending the strongest possible message to the military regime that it was “business as usual”
The next month, Brian Anderson, the Managing Director of Shell Nigeria admitted to the Sunday Times that a “black hole of corruption” existed in Shell’s Nigerian operations. Ledum Mitee interviewed by the newspaper recalled that, “He [Okuntimo] admitted he was being paid by Shell”. Mitee also explained that, “Shell provided vehicles for military operations”.
In January the following year thousands of Ogoni celebrated Ogoni Day, despite a military clampdown. Soldiers and Mobile Police fired tear gas and live ammunition killing four youths. Two months later, The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 1,000 Ogonis had fled to Benin since Ogoni Day. Though the numbers were relatively small the UNHCR called the rate of increase “worrisome”. That month, the US State Department declared that Nigeria constituted a “classic picture of human rights abuse”. The report described Saro-Wiwa’s trial “completely lacking in respect for due process”. In May, the European Parliament condemned Nigeria’s “appalling human rights record” and said the European Union
should impose an oil embargo.

In May 1996, Ken Saro-Wiwa was posthumously elected to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Global 500 Roll of Honour for advancing the cause of environmental protection. “At all stages of his campaign, Saro-Wiwa advocated peaceful resistance to the forces that would deprive the Ogoni people of a say in the development of their region”, UNEP said in a statement.
Also that month Shell offered a “Plan of Action for Ogoni”, where the company offered to clean up all oil spills in the region and rehabilitate some of its community projects. But Shell suffered a PR setback when Bopp van Dessel, Shell’s former head of environmental studies in Nigeria, spoke on TV programme, World In Action, saying that Shell ignored repeated warnings that its oil production operations in Nigeria were causing widespread environmental damage. “They were not meeting their own standards, they were not meeting international standards. Any Shell site that I saw was polluted. Any terminal that I saw was polluted. It is clear to me that Shell was devastating the area”, he said.
Also that May, MOSOP reported that Major Obi, the new Head of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, had summoned two secret meetings of chiefs in the Ogoni villages of Kpor and Bori, during which they were forced to sign documents calling for Shell’s return to Ogoni.
By July Lt. Col. Komo, the Military Administer of Rivers State was said to be in consultation with Shell over the company's return to Ogoni. Komo “expressed pleasure that his talks with Shell have been positive as the company will soon return to Ogoniland”.
By September Shell had held a meeting with the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force and certain groups in Ogoni but not MOSOP: “Our plan is to return to Ogoniland and clean up the pollution in the area, start community assistance projects, take stock of our facilities and when the time is right, start production again” said Shell. MOSOP accused Shell of employing “divideand-rule tactics” and accused the oil company of paying N50,000 for signatures of Village Chiefs and Community Development Committees on a Memorandum inviting the company back into Ogoni.
In the run up to the first Anniversary of Saro-Wiwa’s death, armed soldiers and mobile policeman raided Ogoni communities and detained activists. They were also told to arrest church ministers that mention Ken Saro-Wiwa's name. Thousands of Ogoni defied heavy military presence to hold remembrance church services at designated locations. Women were raped at Saro-Wiwa’s home town and protestors shot.
Also in the run up to the Anniversary, Shell paid for a number of journalists to visit the Niger Delta. After the international condemnation and adverse publicly of the year before, Shell wanted to regain some of the PR initiative. So it flew journalists to the Delta to put its side of the story. It was not long before articles started appearing in the international press, dismissing the claims of the Ogoni and various human rights and environmental organisations. One journalist was Richard D. North, who has made a living out of attacking environmental activists, and whose article in The Independent newspaper also accused Saro-Wiwa of incitement to murder.
In response Saro-Wiwa’s son, Ken Wiwa wrote: “I resent the spin put on the piece. Surely, as the title of your paper suggests, journalists are instructed to form an opinion without undue influence by interested parties. Yet Mr North flew in Shell helicopters and was shown around by the company.
In January 1997, over 80,000 Ogonis celebrated Ogoni Day in spite of the increased repression. Four people received gun shot wounds whilst 20 people were arrested, tortured and detained.
According to MOSOP: “in recent months since the anniversary of the judicial murder of the late Ogoni leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others, a frightening wave of state terrorism has been unleashed on the area with the deployment of over 2000 armed soldiers. …Ogoni stands in the threshold of complete extinction”.

The World Council of Churches issued a report confirming the dire situation in the Delta: “A quiet state of siege prevails even today in Ogoniland. Intimidation, rape, arrests, torture, shooting and looting by the soldiers continue to occur.”
Through 1996–1998 other ethnic groups mainly Ijaw, were in violent confrontations with Shell, Chevron and Texaco, resulting in the deaths of some 200 people and causing estimated damage worth some $50 million. Increasingly protestors were forced to occupy off-shore drilling rigs. The magazine of Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria) reported in 1998 that “it has come to light that Chevron played a major role in the killing of two Delta activists earlier this year. The corporation facilitated an attack by the feared Nigerian navy and notorious Mobile Police on a group of villagers who had occupied one of Chevron’s off-shore drilling facilities.”
In September 1998, 20 Ogoni who had been imprisoned since May 1994 on the same charges as Saro-Wiwa were finally released, when all charges against them were dropped. Amnesty International had reported how the “Ogoni 20” as they were known, had suffered from illtreatment, torture, and denied access to lawyers and families. One of them, Clement Tusima, died in detention due to medical neglect, another had gone blind through torture.
Two months later, in November 1998, Shell issued a four-year “Ogoni Workplan”, including inspection and repairing of facilities, as well as provisions for “new oil”73. The following month, the neighbouring Ijaw tribe adopted the ‘Kaiama Declaration’, which demanded an end to oil production. “We are tired of gas flaring, oil spillages, blowouts and being labelled saboteurs and terrorists”, said the declaration. The military crackdown against the Ijaw was both predictable and brutal. There were deaths of, “possibly over 200 people; the torture and inhuman treatment of others; and the arbitrary detention of many more”, recorded Human Rights Watch. Girls as young as 12 were raped or tortured.In 1999, Human Rights Watch issued a major report “The Price of Oil” examining the human rights violations in the Delta. Whilst recognising the increasing threat to oil company facilities from protestors, including the use of hostage taking, the report noted that “the oil companies share a responsibility to oppose human rights violations by government forces in the areas in which they operate” Human Rights Watch found “repeated incidents in which people were brutalised for attempting to raise grievances with the companies … in virtually every community there have been occasion on which the paramilitary Mobile Police, the regular police or the army have beaten, detained or even killed those involve in protests” and to bring charges against the soldiers for human rights abuses.
In March 1999, US Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich and several members of Congress called for a congressional investigation into the killings of civilians, human rights abuses and harassment of by the Nigerian security forces with the help of Chevron. Six months later, human rights groups filed a suit against Chevron in the US for summary execution, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, violation of the rights to life, liberty and security of person and of peaceful assembly and association, consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights, wrongful death, battery, assault, civil conspiracy, and unfair business practices.
Civilian rule was restored in Nigeria in 1999. But if the Niger Delta communities thought that the ending of military rule would bring stability and the withdrawal of the military from the Delta they were wrong. The abuses continued. As the fourth Anniversary of Saro-Wiwa’s death approached, the Nigerian military destroyed Odi, a town of 15,000 in Ijawland in November 1999, demolishing every building, except the bank, the church and the health centre. As many as 2000 people were killed79. Human Rights Watch called on the government to with draw its troops from the Delta.

In January 2000 a report by US NGOs Essential Action and Global Exchange who had toured the Delta concluded “that oil extraction and the related operations of multinational oil corporations pose a serious threat to the livelihood of the people of the Niger Delta”.
In April 2000 there was a symbolic burial for Saro-Wiwa after the authorities blocked the release of his remains. Placed in his coffin were two of his favourite novels and his pipe, requests that he had made in his will. Over 100,000 Ogonis attended ceremonies in the week-long events to mark the occasion. In October, according to the Ijaw National Congress, 10 activists were killed protesting against the Italian oil company, Agip.
Early the following year, in 2001, the Niger Delta Development Commission began operating. The commission had been set up by President Obasanjo in response to community demands for greater ownership of oil resources, but its formation did not stop the violence. Nor did it change the behaviour of the oil companies. In October 2002, the commissioner for the environment in Bayelsa State in the Delta told Human Rights Watch that: “The situation of Shell is abysmal. It has not changed and we do not believe there is a possibility of change … As far as relations with communities are concerned we have not seen any changes at all. The flow stations are protected by armed soldiers, they don't give any employment to the youth. As commissioner of the environment I have not seen any changes in corporate philosophy.”
Six months later, in April 2003, Human Rights Watch wrote to Shell and other oil companies expressing their “concern regarding recent violent clashes in Nigeria's Niger delta … since March 13, 2003, clashes around Warri have resulted in the deaths of scores of people and the destruction of dozens of villages. ” The groups called on the Nigerian government and oil companies to take immediate measures to prevent further violence and abuses around Warri, where scores of people had been killed. However over the next couple of months, hundreds were killed, thousands displaced, and hundreds of homes destroyed.
The violence continued through 2003 and 2004. In December 2003, a report by WAC, consultants to Shell on “Peace and Security in the Niger Delta” was leaked. The report argued that it was clear that Shell was “part of Niger Delta conflict dynamics and that its social license to operate is fast eroding. Its conclusion was alarming: “If current conflict trends continue uninterrupted, it would be surprising if SCIN [Shell companies in Nigeria] is able to continue onshore resource extraction in the Niger Delta beyond 2008, whilst complying with Shell Business Principles”.
In January 2004 Shell’s record in the Delta once again came under scrutiny when a report was published by Christian Aid that looked into claims of Shell’s corporate social responsibility:“Shell claims that it has turned over a new leaf in Nigeria and strives to be a ‘good neighbour’. Yet it still fails to quickly clean up oil spills that ruin villages and runs ‘community development’ projects that are frequently ineffective and which sometimes divide communities living around oilfields …Just as in 1995 and before, Shell presides over a situation in which the violence in the communities around the oilfields, exacerbated by cash payments made by the company, is spiraling out of control”.
In 2004 another factor helped escalate the violence; the fight of two rival groups for control of the lucrative oil bunkering trade, whereby oil is siphoned off the large networks of pipelines and sold illegally. In September 2004, Alhaji Dokubo Asari, the leader of one of the groups, the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force threatened to launch an all out war in the Delta, sending shock waves through the international oil industry. A hastily arranged peace deal was arranged by President Obasanjo calling for the “disbandement of all militias and militant groups”.
Also that month, the Financial Times reported how Shell was “unable to shake off troubled Ogoni legacy” as a dispute over a pipeline deepened. The paper reported how “inappropriate” payments had been made to a local chief by a contractor working for Shell cleaning up an oil spill in Ogoni.
The violence comes right up to date. In February 2005, Human Rights Watch argued that companies such as Shell could be doing more to stop the violence in the Niger Delta. Also that month, the Ijaw, another tribe in the Delta, accused Shell of escalating the violence which led to up to 100 people being killed by the military at the town of Odioma.
Just days before the launch of the Remember Saro-Wiwa project, six people were feared dead after an inter-community clash that had been sparked by an anti-Shell demonstration. Anti-riot police and soldiers had also been called in by Shell. One of the communities told the Nigerian press that: “They wanted to engage Shell and the government in discussion as to how certain issues concerning environmental devastation, the loss of their means of livelihood could be solved. They also wanted to request for the provision of basic amenities like potable drinking water, electricity and all that but instead of addressing this, Shell invited the military”9.

Ken Saro-Wiwa was framed, secret evidence shows

Witness statements accuse Nigerian military commander of ordering killings and taking bribes

Compelling new evidence suggests the Nigerian military killed four Ogoni elders whose murders led to the execution of the playwright and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995.

The evidence also reveals that the notorious military commander Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Okuntimo, whose troops were implicated in murder and rape, was in the pay of Shell at the time of the killings and was driven around in a Shell vehicle.

                Gen Sani Abacha: Oil trans-national company conspired with him to kill Ken Saro-Wiwa

Since the time of Saro-Wiwa's death, Shell has insisted that it had no financial relationship with the Nigerian military, although it has admitted paying it "field allowances" on two occasions. It has consistently denied any widespread collusion and payments. However, The Independent on Sunday has gained exclusive access to witness accounts that were to be used in evidence in the case of Wiwa vs Shell, brought by Ken Saro-Wiwa's family. The case was settled last May for $15.5m, just days before it was due to start in New York. The settlement meant the testimonies were never made public.

They provide fresh insight into Shell's financial and logistical involvement with the Nigerian military and with Lt-Col Okuntimo.

One of the key witnesses due to testify was Boniface Ejiogu, Lt-Col Okuntimo's orderly in the Internal Security Task Force, a coalition of army, navy and police. Mr Ejiogu testified to standing guard as victims were raped and tortured while Lt-Col Okuntimo was in command. Asked if he ever saw his commander receive money from Shell, he said he witnessed it on two occasions.

Mr Ejiogu described in detail how, just days before the Ogoni elders were murdered, he drove with Lt-Col Okuntimo to Shell's base in Port Harcourt, where the officer received seven large bags of money. "I was there when other soldiers were carrying the Ghana Must Go bags," he testified. The bags were so heavy the soldiers had difficulty carrying them, and one fell open. "The thing opened," Mr Ejiogu said. "I saw it was money in bundles. He said, wow, this is money. I say, yes man, it is money."

On another occasion, Mr Ejiogu witnessed four bags being given by a Shell security official to Lt-Col Okuntimo at the official's house late at night.

Another witness, Raphael Kponee, also due to testify, was a policeman working for Shell. On a different occasion, he saw three bags being loaded into Lt-Col Okuntimo's pick-up truck by his driver and another driver in front of the security building at the Shell base. Shell officials have admitted that money was paid to the officer, but purely as field allowances for his men, who were protecting Shell property in Ogoniland.

MrEjiogu also offers compelling evidence as to who may have murdered the four Ogoni elders at a meeting on 21 May 1994. Saro-Wiwa was due to speak but was turned away by the military. Mr Ejiogu said he heard Lt-Col Okuntimo tell his task force commander to "waste them... in the army you waste them is when you are shooting rapidly".

Within 24 hours Saro-Wiwa was arrested and charged with the murders. It was implied that he had had the elders killed because of their moderate stance on Ogoni issues. Despite an international outcry, he was hanged in November 1995, following a sham trial described by the then British prime minister, John Major, as "judicial murder".

A Shell spokesman said yesterday: "Allegations concerning Okuntimo and Shell are not new. There is a lack of any credible evidence in support of these allegations. Shell Petroleum Development Corporation and Shell at the time spoke out frequently against violence and publicly condemned its use."(http://www.independent.co.uk/new)

The Ogoni Bill of Rights which was presented to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1990 called for, among other things, political autonomy to participate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate unit (by whatever name called), provided that this autonomy guarantees political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people; the right to control and use a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development; adequate representations, as of right, in all Nigerian national institutions, and the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation.

October, 1990
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People
(MOSOP) December, 1991
Published by Saros International Publishers, 24 Aggrey Road, PO Box 193, Port Harcourt, Nigeria for The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) June 1992.


In August 1990 the Chiefs and people of Ogoni in Nigeria met to sign one of  the most important declarations to come out of Africa in recent times: the Ogoni Bill of Rights By the Bill, the Ogoni people, while underlining their loyalty to the Nigerian nation, laid claim as a people to their independence which British colonialism had first violated and then handed over to some other Nigerian ethnic groups in October 1960.
The Bill of Rights presented to the Government and people of Nigeria called for political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people, control and use of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development, adequate and direct representation as of right for Ogoni people in all Nigerian national institutions and the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation.
These rights which should have reverted to the Ogoni after the termination of British rule, have been usurped in the past thirty years by the majority ethnic groups of Nigeria. They have not only been usurped; they have been misused and abused, turning Nigeria into a hell on earth for the Ogoni and similar ethnic minorities. Thirty years of Nigerian independence has done no more than outline the wretched quality of the leadership of the Nigerian majority ethnic groups and their cruelty as they have plunged the nation into ethnic strife, carnage, war, dictatorship, retrogression and the greatest waste of national resources ever witnessed in world history, turning generations of Nigerians, born and unborn into perpetual debtors.
The Ogoni Bill of Rights rejects once and for all this incompetent indigenous colonialism and calls for a new order in Nigeria, an order in which each ethnic group will have full responsibility for its own affairs and competition between the various peoples of Nigeria will be fair, thus ushering in a new era of peaceful co-existence, co-operation and national progress.
This is the path which has been chosen by the European tribes in the European Community, and by the Russians and their neighbours in the new Commonwealth which they are now fashioning. The Yugoslav tribes are being forced into similar ways. The lesson is that high fences make good neighbours. The Ogoni people are therefore in the mainstream of international thought.
It is well known that since the issuance of the Bill of Rights the Babangida administration has continued in the reactionary ways of all the military rulers of Nigeria from Ironsi through Gowon, Obasanjo and Buhari, seeking to turn Nigeria into a unitary state against the wishes of the Nigerian peoples and trends in world history. The split of the country into 30 states and 600 local governments in 1991 is a waste of resources, a veritable exercise in futility. It is a further attempt to transfer the seized resources of the Ogoni and other minority groups in the delta to the majority ethnic groups of the country. Without oil, these states and local governments will not exist for one day longer.
The import of the creation of these states is that the Ogoni and other minority groups will continue to be slaves of the majority ethnic groups. It is a gross abuse of human rights, a notable undemocratic act which flies in the face of modern history. The Ogoni people are right to reject it. While they are willing, for the reasons of Africa, to share their resources with other Africans, they insist that it must be on the principles of mutuality, of fairness, of equity and justice.
It has been assumed that because the Ogoni are few in number, they can be abused and denied their rights and that their environment can be destroyed without compunction. This has been the received wisdom of Nigeria according to military dictatorships. 1992 will put paid to this as the Ogoni put their case to the international community.
It is the intention of the Ogoni people to draw the attention of the American government and people to the fact that the oil which they buy from Nigeria is stolen property and that it is against American law to receive stolen goods.
The Ogoni people will be telling the European Community that their demand of the Yugoslav tribes that they respect human rights and democracy should also apply to Nigeria and that they should not wait for Nigeria to burst into ethnic strife and carnage before enjoining these civilized values on a Nigeria which depends on European investment, technology and credit.
The Ogoni people will be appealing to the British Government and the leaders of the Commonwealth who have urged on Commonwealth countries the virtues of good government, democracy, human rights and environmental protection that no government can be good if it imposes and operates laws which cheat a section of its peoples; that democracy does not exist where laws do not protect minorities and that the environment of the Ogoni and other delta minorities has been ruined beyond repair by multi-national oil companies under the protection of successive Nigerian administrations run by Nigerians of the majority ethnic groups.
The Ogoni people will make representation to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the effect that giving loans and credit to the Nigerian Government on the understanding that oil money will be used to repay such loans is to encourage the Nigerian government to continue to dehumanise the Ogoni people and to devastate the environment and ecology of the Ogoni and other delta minorities among whom oil is found.
The Ogoni people will inform the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity that the Nigerian Constitution and the actions of the power elite in Nigeria flagrantly violate the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights; and that Nigeria in 1992 is no different from Apartheid South Africa. The Ogoni people will ask that Nigeria be duly chastised by both organizations for its inhuman actions and uncivilized behaviour. And if Nigeria persists in its perversity, then it should be expelled form both organizations.
These actions of the Ogoni people aim at the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Ogoni people as a distinct ethnic community in Nigeria, and at the establishment of a democratic Nigeria, a progressive multi-ethnic nation, a realistic society of equals, a just nation.
What the Ogoni demand for themselves, namely autonomy, they also ask for others throughout Nigeria and, indeed, the continent of Africa.
It is their hope that the international community will respond to these demands as they have done to similar demands in other parts of the world.
Ken Saro-Wiwa
Port Harcourt 24/12/91
President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP)
1. The Ogoni case is of genocide being committed in the dying years of the twentieth century by multi-national oil companies under the supervision of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is that of a distinct ethnic minority in Nigeria who feel so suffocated by existing political, economic and social conditions in Nigeria that they have no choice but to cry out to the international community for salvation.
2. The Ogoni are a distinct ethnic group inhabiting the coastal plains terraces to the north- east of the Niger delta. On account of the hitherto very rich plateau soil, the people are mainly subsistence farmers but they also engage in migrant and nomadic fishing. They occupy an area of about 400 square miles and number an estimated 500,000. The population density of about 1,250 persons per square mile is among the highest in any rural area in the world and compares with the Nigerian national average of 300. The obvious problem is the pressure on land.
3. Petroleum was discovered in Ogoni at Bomu (Dere) in 1958; since then an estimated US 100 billion dollars worth of oil has been carted away from Ogoniland. In return for this, the Ogoni have no pipe-borne water, no electricity, very few roads, ill-equipped schools and hospitals and no industry whatsoever.
4. Ogoni has suffered and continues to suffer the degrading effects of oil exploration and exploitation: lands, streams and creeks are totally and continually polluted; the atmosphere is for ever charged with hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide; many villages experience the infernal quaking of the wrath of gas flares which have been burning 24 hours a day for 33 years; acid rain, oil spillages and blowouts are common. The result of such unchecked environmental pollution and degradation are that (i) The Ogoni can no longer farm successfully. Once the food basket of the eastern Niger Delta, the Ogoni now buy food (when they can afford it); (ii) Fish, once a common source of protein, is now rare. Owing to the constant and continual pollution of our streams and creeks, fish can only be caught in deeper and offshore waters for which the Ogoni are not equipped. (iii) All wildlife is dead. (iv) The ecology is changing fast. The mangrove tree, the aerial roots of which normally provide a natural and welcome habitat for many a sea food - crabs, periwinkles, mudskippers, cockles, mussels, shrimps and all - is now being gradually replaced by unknown and otherwise useless plams. (v) The health hazards generated by an atmosphere charged with hydrocarbon vapour, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are innumerable.
5. The once beautiful Ogoni countryside is no more a source of fresh air and green vegetation. All one sees and feels around is death. Death is everywhere in Ogoni. Ogoni languages are dying; Ogoni culture is dying; Ogoni people, Ogoni animals, Ogoni fishes are dying because of 33 years of hazardous environmental pollution and resulting food scarcity. In spite of an alarming density of population, American and British oil companies greedily encroach on more and more Ogoni land, depriving the peasants of their only means of livelihood. Mining rents and royalties for Ogoni oil are seized by the Federal Government of Nigeria which offers the Ogoni people NOTHING in return. Ogoni is being killed so that Nigeria can live.
6. Politically, the Ogoni are being ground to the dust under dictatorial decrees imposed by successive military regimes in Nigeria and laws smuggled by military dictatorships into the Nigerian Constitution which Constitution does not protect ethnic minorities and which today bears no resemblance whatsoever to the covenant entered into by the federating Nigerian ethnic groups at Independence.
7. Ethnicity is a fact of Nigerian life. Nigeria is a federation of ethnic groups. In practice, however, ethnocentrism is the order of the day in the country. The rights and resources of the Ogoni have been usurped by the majority ethnic groups and the Ogoni consigned to slavery and possible extinction. The Ogoni people reject the current political and administrative structuring of Nigeria imposed by the Military Government. They believe with Obafemi Awolowo that in a true federation, each ethnic gourp, no matter how small is entitled to the same treatment as any other ethnic group, no matter how large.
8. The Ogoni people therefore demand POLITICAL AUTONOMY as a distinct and separate unit of the Nigerian federation - autonomy which will guarantee them certain basic rights essential to their survival as a people. This demand has been spelt out in the Ogoni Bill of Rights. The Ogoni people stand by the Bill and now appeal to the international community, as a last resort, to save them from extinction.
(Sgd) Dr. G.B. Leton
President, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP)

We, the people of Ogoni (Babbe, Gokana, Ken Khana, Nyo Khana and Tai) numbering about 500,000 being a separate and distinct ethnic nationality within the Federal Republic of Nigeria, wish to draw the attention of the Governments and people of Nigeria to the undermentioned facts:
1. That the Ogoni people, before the advent of British colonialism, were not conquered or colonized 
2.  That British colonization forced us into the administrative division of Opobo from 1908 to 1947.
3.  That we protested against this forced union until the Ogoni Native Authority was created in 1947 and placed under the then Rivers Province.
4.  That in 1951 we were forcibly included in the Eastern Region of Nigeria where we suffered utter neglect.
5.  That we protested against this neglect by voting against the party in power in the Region in 1957, and against the forced union by testimony before the Willink Commission of Inquiry into Minority Fears in 1958.
6.  That this protest led to the inclusion of our nationality in Rivers State in 1967, which State consists of several ethnic nationalities with differing cultures, languages and aspirations.
7.  That oil was struck and produced in commercial quantities on our land in 1958 at K. Dere (Bomu oilfield).
8.  That oil has been mined on our land since 1958 to this day from the following oilfields: (i) Bomu (ii) Bodo West (iii) Tai (iv) Korokoro (v) Yorla (vi) Lubara Creek and (vii) Afam by Shell Petroleum Development Company (Nigeria) Limited.
9.  That in over 30 years of oil mining, the Ogoni nationality have provided the Nigerian nation with a total revenue estimated at over 40 billion Naira (N40 billion) or 30 billion dollars.
10. That in return for the above contribution, the Ogoni people have received NOTHING.
11. That today, the Ogoni people have:
(i)   No representation whatsoever in ALL institutions of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
(ii)  No pipe-borne water.
(iii) No electricity.
(iv) No job opportunities for the citizens in Federal, State, public sector or private sector companies.
(v) No social or economic project of the Federal Government.
12. That the Ogoni languages of Gokana and Khana are underdeveloped and are about to disappear, whereas other Nigerian languages are being forced on us.
13. That the Ethnic policies of successive Federal and State Governments are gradually pushing the Ogoni people to slavery and possible extinction.
14. That the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited does not employ Ogoni people at a meaningful or any level at all, in defiance of the Federal government s regulations.
15. That the search for oil has caused severe land and food shortages in Ogoni one of the most densely populated areas of Africa (average: 1,500 per square mile; national average: 300 per square mile).
16. That neglectful environmental pollution laws and substandard inspection techniques of the Federal authorities have led to the complete degradation of the Ogoni environment, turning our homeland into an ecological disaster.
17. That the Ogoni people lack education, health and other social facilities.
18. That it is intolerable that one of the richest areas of Nigeria should wallow in abject poverty and destitution.
19. That successive Federal administrations have trampled on every minority right enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution to the detriment of the Ogoni and have by administrative structuring and other noxious acts transferred Ogoni wealth exclusively to other parts of the Republic.
20. That the Ogoni people wish to manage their own affairs.
NOW, therefore, while reaffirming our wish to remain a part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we make demand upon the Republic as follows:
That the Ogoni people be granted POLITICAL AUTONOMY to participate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate unit by whatever name called, provided that this Autonomy guarantees the following:
(i)   Political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people.
(ii) The right to the control and use of a fair proportion of OGONI economic resources for Ogoni development.
(iii) Adequate and direct representation as of right in all Nigerian national institutions.
(iv) The use and development of Ogoni languages in all Nigerian territory.
(v)  The full development of Ogoni culture.
(vi) The right to religious freedom.
(vii) The right to protect the OGONI environment and ecology from further degradation.
We make the above demand in the knowledge that it does not deny any other ethnic group in the Nigerian Federation of their rights and that it can only conduce to peace, justice and fairplay and hence stability and progress in the Nigerian nation.
We make the demand in the belief that, as Obafemi Awolowo has written: In a true federation, each ethnic group no matter how small, is entitled to the same treatment as any other ethnic group, no matter how large.
We demand these rights as equal members of the Nigerian Federation who contribute and have contributed to the growth of the Federation and have a right to expect full returns from that Federation.
Adopted by general acclaim of the Ogoni people on the 26th day of August, 1990 at Bori, Rivers State and signed by: (see under).


We, the people of Ogoni, being a separate and distinct ethnic nationality within the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hereby state as follows:
(a) That on October 2, 1990 we addressed an Ogoni Bill of Rights to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida and members of the Armed Forces Ruling Council;
(b)  That after a one-year wait, the President has been unable to grant us the audience which we sought to have with him in order to discuss the legitimate demands contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights;
(c) That our demands as outlined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights are legitimate, just and our inalienable right and in accord with civilized values worldwide;
(d) That the Government of the Federal Republic has continued, since October 2, 1990, to decree measures and implement policies which further marginalize the Ogoni people, denying us political autonomy, our rights to our resources, to the development of our languages and culture, to adequate representation as of right in all Nigerian national institutions and to the protection of our environment and ecology from further degradation;
(e) That we cannot sit idly by while we are, as a people, dehumanized and slowly exterminated and driven to extinction even as our rich resources are siphoned off to the exclusive comfort and improvement of other Nigerian communities, and the shareholders of multi-national oil companies.
Now therefore, while re-affirming our wish to remain a part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we hereby authorize the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) to make representation, for as long as these injustices continue, to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the African Commission on Human and Peoples rights, the European Community and all international bodies which have a role to play in the preservation of our nationality, as follows:
1.  That the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has, in utter disregard and contempt for human rights, since independence in 1960 till date, denied us our political rights to self-determination, economic rights to our resources, cultural rights to the development of our languages and culture, and social rights to education, health and adequate housing and to representation as of right in national institutions;
2.  That, in particular, the Federal Republic of Nigeria has refused to pay us oil royalties and mining rents amounting to an estimated 20 billion US dollars for petroleum mined from our soil for over 
3.  That the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not protect any of our rights whatsoever as an ethnic minority of 500,000 in a nation of about 100 million people and that the voting power and military might of the majority ethnic groups have been used remorselessly against us at every point in time;
4. That multi-national oil companies, namely Shell (Dutch/British) and Chevron (American) have severally and jointly devastated our environment and ecology, having flared gas in our villages for 33 years and caused oil spillages, blow-outs etc., and have dehumanised our people, denying them employment and those benefits which industrial organizations in Europe and America routinely contribute to their areas of operation;
5.  That the Nigerian elite (bureaucratic, military, industrial and academic) have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to these acts of dehumanisation by the ethnic majority and have colluded with all the agents of destruction aimed at us;
6.  That we cannot seek restitution in the courts of law in Nigeria as the act of expropriation of our rights and resources has been institutionalised in the 1979 and 1989 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which Constitutions were acts of a Constituent Assembly imposed by a military regime and do not , in any way, protect minority rights or bear resemblance to the tacit agreement made at Nigerian independence.
7.  That the Ogoni people abjure violence in their just struggle for their rights within the Federal Republic of Nigeria but will, through every lawful means, and for as long as is necessary, fight for social justice and equity for themselves and their progeny, and in particular demand political autonomy as a distinct and separate unit within the Nigerian nation with full right to (i) control Ogoni political affairs, (ii) use at least fifty per cent of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development; (iii) protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation; (iv) ensure the full restitution of the harm done to the health of our people by the flaring of gas, oil spillages, oil blow- outs, etc. by the following oil companies: Shell, Chevron and their Nigerian accomplices.
8.  That without the intervention of the international community the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the ethnic majority will continue these noxious policies until the Ogoni people are obliterated from the face of the earth.
Adopted by general acclaim of the Ogoni people on the 26th day of August 1991 at Bori, Rivers State of Nigeria.

Signed on behalf of the Ogoni people by:
HRH Mark Tsaro-Igbara, Gbenemene Babbe; HRH F.M.K. Noryaa, Menebua, Ka-Babbe; Chief M.A.M. Tornwe III, JP; Prince J.S. Sangha; Dr. Israel Kue; Chief A.M.N. Gua.
HRH James P. Bagia, Gberesako XI, Gberemene Gokana; Chief E.N. Kobani, JP Tonsimene Gokana; Dr. B.N. Birabi; Chief Kemte Giadom, JP; Chief S.N. Orage.
HRH M.H.S. Eguru, Gbenemene Ken-Khana; HRH C.B.S. Nwikina, Emah III, Menebua Bom; Mr. M.C. Daanwii; Chief T.N. Nwieke; Mr. Ken Saro-wiwa; Mr. Simeon Idemyor.
HRH W.Z.P. Nzidee, Genemene Baa I of Nyo-Khana; Dr. G.B. Leton, OON, JP; Mr. Lekue Lah-Loolo; Mr. L.E. Mwara; Chief E.A. Apenu; Pastor M.P. Maeba. TAI: HRH B.A. Mballey, Gbenemene Tai; HRH G.N. Gininwa, Menebua Tua Tua; Chief J.S. Agbara; Chief D.J.K. Kumbe; Chief Fred Gwezia; HRH A. Demor-Kanni, Meneba Nonwa.

1. Prevail on the American Government to stop buying Nigerian oil. It is stolen property.
2.   Prevail on Shell and Chevron to stop flaring gas in Ogoni.
3.  Prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria to honour the rights of the Ogoni people to self-determination and AUTONOMY.
4.  Prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay all royalties and mining rents collected on oil mined from Ogoni since 1958.
5.  Prevail on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to stop giving loans to the Federal Government of Nigeria; all loans which depend for their repayment on the exploitation of Ogoni oil resources.
6.  Send urgent medical and other aid to the Ogoni people.
7.  Prevail on the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity and the Commonwealth of Nations to either get the Federal Government of Nigeria to obey the rules and mores of these organisations, face sanctions or be expelled from them.
8.  Prevail on European and American Governments to stop giving aid and credit to the Federal Government of Nigeria as aid and credit only go to encourage the further dehumanisation of the Ogoni people.
9.  Prevail on European and American Governments to grant political refugee status to all Ogoni people seeking protection from the political persecution and genocide at the hands of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
10. Prevail on Shell and Chevron to pay compensation to the Ogoni People for ruining the Ogoni environment and the health of Ogoni men, women and children.

The Role of Women in the Struggle for Environmental Justice in Ogoni
Author: DianaBarikor-Wiwa
CSQ Issue: 21.3 (Fall 1997) 25 Years of the Indigenous Movement: Africa and Asia
On the April 25, 1997, the Federation of Ogoni Women's Associations (FOWA), an umbrella organization for all women's groups in Ogoni, the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, made a resolution. It stated "It is resolved that Shell cannot and must not be allowed in Ogoni...we say no to Shell as it remains Persona non grata in Ogoni." This pronouncement, amongst five other resolutions, were made and signed (those who could not sign, thumb printed) by over 300 women leaders in Ogoni who represented FOWA's 57,000 registered members.
This action was made by a well-organized African women's movement; one that has played a key role in one of the largest non-violent struggles for environmental and social justice in African history. How did these women become so well-organized? And where do they fit into their people's struggle? The era of the most intense protests began on January 4th, 1993, when the Ogoni people took their future into their hands and peacefully protested nearly four decades of environmental devastation by the Shell oil company. Over 300,000 people participated from a total Ogoni population of 500,000 and not a single stone was thrown.

Women played a key role in organizing that massive protest. FOWA was set up in 1993, along with eight other units which make up the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). MOSOP is the democratic organization which represents the voice of the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta. MOSOP acts as an umbrella organization for a number of Ogoni groups, which together have a total membership of over 250,000 individuals: FOWA; National Youth Council of the Ogoni People (NYCOP); Council of Ogoni Churches (COC); Council of Ogoni Professionals (COP); Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers (COTRA); National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS); Ogoni Students Union (OSU); Ogoni Teachers Union (OTU); and Ogoni Central Union (OCU). FOWA, like rest of the MOSOP units, is independent but guided by MOSOP policies. However, it is widely recognized that FOWA has grown to be the strongest component of the nine existing units of MOSOP.

The Ogoni are an indigenous ethnic group in the oil rich Niger Delta of Nigeria. Its 500,000 people live in an area of approximately 404 square miles. The people depend on fishing, farming, and trading for sustenance. This close relationship with the land means Ogoni communities have placed strong emphasis on the care of the environment, believing it to be the life-giving source of the people and the dwelling place of their ancestors.
The Oil Industry in Ogoni

With the discovery of oil in the 1950s, the Ogoni were completely unaware of the consequences of oil drilling and were forced to accommodate the arrival of the oil industry. Being the producers of much of the food that was eaten in the Niger Delta, the Ogoni were not poor, and had hoped that the oil could make a relatively prosperous situation better. It did not take long for the Ogoni to see that this was not to be the case. Beyond the fact that the revenues from the oil did not return to the people, the social consequences of the unleashed environmental nightmare have been unbearable. The Ogoni saw their farmland being expropriated without compensation for oil extraction and faced no alternative means of survival. Pipelines often crisscrossed valuable farmland and poisonous gases flared into the atmosphere close to communities. Aging oil equipment often failed and leaked oil into communities and farms without adequate clean-up or compensation. The standards applied by Shell were completely destructive of the environment, as well as the Ogoni that were dependent upon the land and rivers for their survival. Those who suffered most were the women and children who, unlike the young men, could not easily migrate and escape to the urban areas.

Traditionally, when an Ogoni woman gets married, her husband is required to give her a piece of land to farm. It is from this farm that she feeds her family and grows food for sale in order to buy other staples. This tradition also allowed women to enjoy a measure of independence. The fertility of Ogoni soil made it very fruitful for agriculture, producing high yields. The bountiful harvests left time for Ogoni women to invest in cultural activities such as art, dancing, singing, and pottery. From the testimonies of older women, it is clear there were less tensions in the home. However, the constant acquisition of new territory for oil exploitation and the resulting pollution from the industry, has left the Ogoni women with no means to feed or support their families. This has given rise to tensions in the home and community.

Polluted streams are an added burden for the women who have to travel further away from home to get water for their domestic chores. Their children have not received employment in the oil industry that had disposed them of their birthright (some 50 Ogoni were employed mainly as cleaners and drivers between 1958 and 1993), making young men and women a continuing responsibility for their mothers long after they should have been independent.

The physical health of a household has usually been dependent upon women, who commonly had specific knowledge of local medicines. She learned about the local cures during her "fattening room" period. This is a period which starts after the birth of her first child and lasts for one year. During this time, she is not allowed out of the family compound. Besides being a time for her to rest, it is also a time of schooling when she learns how to look after her child and home. She is attended to by women from her family and older women in the community. As pressure grows for young women to devote more time and energy on shrinking agricultural resources, very little time is left for them to acquire specialized health knowledge through the fattening room period. For those women who do spend time in the fattening room, the period rarely exceeds two months after which the young woman must return to farming. The loss of the fattening room and other traditions led the Ogoni women to make a conscious decision to organize against the oil industry on their land, a force they saw as being clearly responsible for cultural degradation in Ogoni.

Violence Against Ogoni Women

Since the grand protest of January 4th, 1993, Ogoni women have experienced, first-hand, the violent reprisals instigated by the Nigerian military and their Shell counterparts. The first incidence of violence was on April 28th, 1993. Mrs. Karalole, an Ogoni woman, went to her farm very early in the morning. Upon arriving, she discovered it being bulldozed by Wilbros (a sub-contracted company working for Shell) who were accompanied by well-armed soldiers. She attempted to protect what was left of her farm but was badly beaten. Mrs. Karalole then left to inform the rest of the villagers about what was happening. Thousands of villagers came out carrying leaves (a symbol of protest) and protested peacefully. The soldiers shot into the crowd of protesters. An Ogoni man, Mr. Atu, was shot dead and several others seriously wounded, including Mrs. Karalole, who later had her arm amputated from the gun shot wound she sustained. Despite this event, the Ogoni continued to organize. FOWA established units all over Ogoni and expanded its activities in all Ogoni communities.

FOWA's Actions

FOWA's activities are not entirely based around protest. FOWA has made efforts to revive threatened cultural practices, such as pottery and basket weaving. FOWA has also developed plans and programs into areas like traditional family planning methods, health, and the education of young girls. A key program was created to inform and educate young Ogoni women about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control (prostitution was on the rise believed to have some link with the oil industry). FOWA planned to set up a resource center for its activities. In order to implement these programs, funds were raised through membership fees and contributions from existing and new women's cooperatives.

The family planning discussions started in some Ogoni communities when the next wave of military attacks hit the Ogoni people in August 1993. The people were caught completely unaware. By August 1994, 30 villages were destroyed, over 2,000 people killed, more than 3,000 injured, and approximately 100,000 Ogoni became internal refugees. The women acted as swiftly as they could. Most of the money raised for women's development programs was put into securing food and medicine. Every Ogoni woman was asked to donate something to help resettle and rehabilitate the great number of refugees.

Ogoni had become a war zone. MOSOP released a plea for help to the wider Nigerian and international community. We finally received help from the Daughters of Charity, a Catholic relief agency in Nigeria. Despite the danger and hardship, the Ogoni women collected a garage full of food in less than three weeks. FOWA worked closely with the ad hoc Relief and Rehabilitation Committee (set up by MOSOP to handle the crisis), and the Daughters of Charity to distribute food and aid. By July, 1994, the women's resources were completely exhausted.

The refugees and ruined villages were still a problem, market squares where women traded their goods with neighboring communities had been destroyed. They had no way of raising further funds to support the internal refugees. In response to this continuing crisis, FOWA initiated an assimilation program in which Ogoni families absorbed refugees into their homes. FOWA also worked with MOSOP to formulate a plan by which the destroyed homes and villages could be rebuilt. The Ogoni people had started rebuilding some of the villages when the Canadian government and another international organization supplemented their efforts. Seven villages were rebuilt including a school and a major market in Kaa.

Still, no matter how FOWA and the Ogoni people worked to recover, the Nigerian military gave them no respite. On the morning of April 21st, 1994, Ogoni leader and spokesperson Ken Saro-Wiwa was arrested on inflated charges. He was incarcerated for nine months before being charged and arraigned before a special military tribunal. To silence the well publicized campaign of the Ogoni for environmental justice, an Internal Security Task Force (ISTF) was set up by the Nigerian dictatorship to terrorize the Ogoni. What followed was another story of horror. The ISTF set out, in the words of the commander of the force, to "sanitize Ogoni." The military went on a rampage-beating, killing, maiming, detaining, extorting money, looting, and raping throughout Ogoni; women were often the targets.

In June 1994, during an attack of the ISTF against an Ogoni village, Miss B. (prefers that her real name is not mentioned) fled into the forest along with her three younger siblings. She was only 16. Being in the forest several days without food for her siblings and not being able to stop their cries of hunger, she ventured back into the village with the hope of procuring food and water from their abandoned home. On her way back, and just a few feet from her makeshift home, she was attacked by the soldiers who had earlier driven away the villagers. She was raped and beaten in broad daylight and in the presence of her siblings. In the attempt to save her they were also severely beaten. Now, three years later, she is still traumatized.

This is just one of the many stories of rape and repression Ogoni women have, and continue to experience because of their demands for justice from Shell. Its presence has not only devastated their land but has impoverished Ogoni women and subsequently, the community. Although the Ogoni women have suffered spectacular physical and cultural losses from the genocidal war fought against them, they have not stopped their activities. They continue to feed and attend to the hundreds of Ogoni detainees taken by the Nigerian soldiers, as well as organize and assist each other to the best of their ability.

This activity has been difficult, and in many cases impossible to continue since the local economy has been badly damaged by the series of attacks, looting, and extortion by Nigerian soldiers. Still, the women, both as individuals and as a collective, have somehow found ways to support their families and communities. With less material support, the women have provided moral support for those detained or despairing the conditions in Ogoni today. Being a religious people(although most are Christian, many Ogoni still retain their traditional beliefs), Ogoni women have continued to organize religious events like prayer meetings despite the many arrests and threats from Nigerian soldiers who continually harass them. This spirit is at the core of the Ogoni struggle.

The struggle of Ogoni women culminated April 25th, 1997 when FOWA established their resolution against Shell for the injuries they have caused to the Ogoni over the past four decades and to insult Shell's arrogance. While Shell may look on the environment as a source of profits for their shareholders and jobs for their staff, the Ogoni look upon the environment as a source of their being. Its destruction irrevocably affects the Ogoni people. When all the oil is gone and their is no more money to be made, Shell will leave. The women, men, and children of Ogoni will have to salvage what is left.

FOWA has united women of all generations. It has also been able to bring the thoughts of the women in the community together in one voice. There are 126 branches of FOWA, and one in every Ogoni village. In January, 1997, an international office was set up in Toronto, Canada. FOWA also has offices in St. Louis, Missouri and Ohio.

The international offices' aim is to raise awareness in the international community about the destructive nature of oil exploitation to the Ogoni community as a whole, but paying special attention to the most vulnerable members of Ogoni society. FOWA also seeks to build a support base for the Ogoni women in Ogoni and abroad. FOWA aims to learn from, and network with other women from around the world who have had to fight to save their lands. In 1993, Ogoni women found that they and all Ogoni had no choice but to effectively organize their protests against Shell and the Nigerian dictatorship. Through early grassroots organizing in all Ogoni communities and by ensuring a democratic process in decision making, FOWA won the complete loyalty of Ogoni women. Its success was not only rooted in its commitment to organizing the protests against oil exploitation, but in its commitment to strengthening cultural practices and increasing the political role of Ogoni women at the village level. By ensuring cultural survival while fighting for environmental justice, FOWA has made itself one of the most effective grassroots women's movements in Africa.


  1. Hi kwekudee,

    Can you contact me as I'm interested to chat about the Ogoni issue.


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