155/96 : Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) and Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) / Nigeria Summary of Facts 1. The communication alleges that the military government of Nigeria has been directly involved in oil production through the State oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), the majority shareholder in a consortium with Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC), and that these operations have caused environmental degradation and health problems resulting from the contamination of the environment among the Ogoni People. 2. The communication alleges that the oil consortium has exploited oil reserves in Ogoniland with no regard for the health or environment of the local communities, disposing toxic wastes into the environment and local waterways in violation of applicable international environmental standards. The consortium also neglected and/or failed to maintain its facilities causing numerous avoidable spills in the proximity of villages. The resulting contamination of water, soil and air has had serious short and long-term health impacts, including skin infections, gastrointestinal and respiratory ailments, and increased risk of cancers, and neurological and reproductive problems. 3. The communication alleges that the Nigerian Government has condoned and facilitated these violations by placing the legal and military powers of the state at the disposal of the oil companies. The communication contains a memo from the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, calling for ‘ruthless military operations’. 4. The communication alleges that the government has neither monitored operations of the oil companies nor required safety measures that are standard procedure within the industry. The government has withheld from Ogoni communities information on the dangers created by oil activities. Ogoni communities have not been involved in the decisions affecting the development of Ogoniland. 5. The government has not required oil companies or its own agencies to produce basic health and environmental impact studies regarding hazardous operations and materials relating to oil production, despite the obvious health and environmental crisis in Ogoniland. The government has even refused to permit scientists and environmental organisations from entering Ogoniland to undertake such studies. The government has also ignored the concerns of Ogoni communities regarding oil development, and has responded to protests with massive violence and executions of Ogoni leaders. 6. The communication alleges that the Nigerian government does not require oil companies to consult communities before beginning operations, even if the operations pose direct threats to community or individual lands. 7. The communication alleges that in the course of the last three years, Nigerian security forces have attacked, burned and destroyed several Ogoni villages and homes under the pretext of dislodging officials and supporters of the Movement of the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). These attacks have come in response to MOSOP’s non-violent campaign in opposition to the destruction of their environment by oil companies. Some of the attacks have involved uniformed combined forces of the police, the army, the air-force, and the navy, armed with armoured tanks and other sophisticated weapons. In other instances, the attacks have been conducted by unidentified gunmen, mostly at night. The military-type methods and the calibre of weapons used in such attacks strongly suggest the involvement of the Nigerian security forces. The complete failure of the Government of Nigeria to investigate these attacks, let alone punish the perpetrators, further implicates the Nigerian authorities. 8. The Nigerian Army has admitted its role in the ruthless operations which have left thousands of villagers homeless. The admission is recorded in several memos exchanged between officials of the SPDC and the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, which has devoted itself to the suppression of the Ogoni campaign. One such memo calls for “ruthless military operations” and “wasting operations coupled with psychological tactics of displacement”. At a public meeting recorded on video, Major Okuntimo, head of the Task Force, described the repeated invasion of Ogoni villages by his troops, how unarmed villagers running from the troops were shot from behind, and the homes of

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