Nigeria: Rebels Refuse Bribe


May 22,2008: In the Niger River Delta, MEND, the tribal rebel group, has rejected a government proposal to end the violence against the oil production facilities. The government suggested that various factions of MEND incorporate and take government contracts to provide security for portions of the oil facilities in the delta region. MEND called this an outright bribe, and reminded the government that MEND wanted to improve living conditions for all the people living in the delta. The government just wants to stop the violence which has halted about a quarter of the nation's oil production.

In addition to the deliberate violence, Nigeria has an accident rate that is several times that found in Western countries. Recently, 43 soldiers, returning from a peacekeeping mission overseas, were killed when their convoy collided with a fuel tanker. The roads are bad and the driving habits are worse. This applies to construction equipment as well. Recently, an excavator hit a fuel pipeline while working on a road, causing an explosion that killed 15-100 people (depending on who you believe, getting accurate information if often a problem as well.) The pipelines are poorly maintained by the state owned oil company.

May 19, 2008: The hijacked supply boat has been located (it's difficult to hide), and police have surrounded it and are negotiating with the pirates. During the first three months of the year, 20 percent of pirate attacks worldwide, took place off Nigeria, mainly in the Niger River delta. The country has 850 kilometers of coastline, but the navy has only 17 ships, and many are out of action because of poor maintenance. Moreover, in the delta, there are some 3,000 separate waterways emptying into the ocean, giving pirates plenty of hiding places. The navy has only eleven ships patrolling the delta.

May 13, 2008: Pirates seized a supply ship (that services offshore oil platforms) and demanded $260,000 ransom for the boat and its 11 man crew (two foreigners and nine Nigerians.)


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