Nigeria: Violence Spreads


June 18,2008: Nigeria reached a peak daily production of 2.5 million barrels in 2005. Since then, a third of oil production has been shut down by criminal gangs and tribal violence in the Niger Delta. As a result, Angola, by producing 1.87 million barrels a day has, for the first time passed Nigeria.

While the MEND organization says it speaks for the tribes in the Niger Delta, that outfit is led by gangsters who have grown wealthy by stealing oil for years, and has other interests as well. The stealing continues, in addition to increasing kidnapping and other forms of crime. The gangs are still making money, and the politics is a sideline. Because of this situation, the government has a tough, seemingly impossible, time calming down the Delta. The money is an excellent incentive, and the added sense of oppression just gives the gangs a political and recruiting boost. Now thus there are several major incidents a week, including more attacks on sailors, troops and private contractors guarding oil facilities. Attempts to arrange peace talks have failed because of disagreements who the government negotiators will be, and what will be up for negotiation.

June 17, 2008: The new head of the Anti-Corruption Commission has removed the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (who approves oil industry contracts) as part of a corruption investigation into activities last year.

June 11, 2008: Cameroonian troops moved into Bakassi, seeking the kidnapped officials and soldiers. Hundreds of Nigerian residents of the area fled, fearing what the Cameroonian soldiers might do to them. About 90 percent of the Bakassi population is still Nigerian. Last Fall, a Nigerian gang attacked a Cameroonian army outpost, killing twenty soldiers.

June 9, 2008: In the Bakassi peninsula, which was recently taken over (after years of lawsuits and negotiation) by Cameroon, from Nigeria, a Cameroonian official (and his security detail of five soldiers) were ambushed and abducted by Nigerian gangsters. Bakassi is near the Niger Delta, and one of many parts of the Gulf of Guinea that are now suffering attacks by armed gangs that got their start in the Niger Delta violence. There is nearly 4,000 kilometers of coastline in the Gulf, and impossible to patrol or police with the forces currently available.

June 4, 2008: The kidnappings in the oil region (Niger Delta) continue, with over 200 foreigners taken in the last 30 months, and many more Nigerians (usually family of prominent politicians or businessmen.)


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