Nigeria: Gangs Gone Wild

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August 13, 2006: Nigerian troops have withdrawn from the disputed Bakassi peninsula, and police from Cameroon have entered for the official transfer of control tomorrow. UN mediation awarded the disputed, and oil rich, area to Cameroon, but Nigeria resisted complying for several years. Most residents of Bakassi consider themselves Nigerian, but do not want to move. The Bakassi decision was part of a UN mediation that covered several other disputed bits along over a thousand kilometers of the border with Cameroon. Nigeria got some small areas as well.

August 8, 2006: Four foreign oil workers were kidnapped when their boat was intercepted as it moved towards an offshore oil rig. There were eleven Nigerians on board as well, but the bandits usually release Nigerians, and negotiate ransoms for the foreign workers. So far this year, about thirty foreigners have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta oil region. The increased security costs, and interruptions to operations, have made it unprofitable for some foreign companies to operate in the Niger Delta. As a result, some foreign companies are pulling out of Nigeria, or threatening to do so. Some 20 percent of the nation's oil production is still blocked by tribe based gangs demanding a larger share of the oil revenue. The government cannot muster military or police forces capable to shutting down the growing power of the criminal gangs in the Niger Delta.

August 7, 2006: While the north has problems with Islamic radicals getting violent over Christians drinking alcohol, or women not piling on sufficient clothing, in the south there are armed Christian cult gangs. These armed groups are willing to settle theological disputes with AK-47s. Police recently intervened against such a gang in the town of Asaba, killing two cultists, arresting four, and pursuing a dozen others, some of them armed with automatic weapons. Fortunately, neither the Christian cultists, or the Islamic radicals, like to travel long distances, because a meeting of these two groups would surely be explosive. However, in central Nigeria, where many towns with mixed Christian/Moslem populations, and the potential for a Christian cult gang forming on one side of town, and an Islamic radical gang on the other.

 


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