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BBC Monitoring Service: Nigeria: Oil firms accused of “mass murder” of Niger Delta negotiators

Published: Sep 03, 2006

Text of report by Chido Okafor entitled “Ijaw Buries Negotiators, Warns Oil Firms” published Nigerian newspaper The Guardian website on 3 September

It was a pathetic scene yesterday at the Warri Central Hospital when the Ijaw removed the nine corpses of their kinsmen who were killed a fortnight ago near Letugbene in Bayelsa State by soldiers of the joint task force (JTF).

The dead men had gone to negotiate the release of a Shell Petroleum Development Company staff, Nelson Ujeya who also died in still unknown circumstance.

The nine corpses were recovered from the river after the killing of 15 Ijaw negotiators and two chiefs two weeks ago. The remains of other six negotiators had not been found.

The bodies were carried one after the other from the hospital’s mortuary to waiting vehicles, which conveyed them to the Millar jetty where they were put in various boats and escorted to their final resting places at their communities.

The names of the recovered slain negotiators were given as Dipio Tonme (from Ayakoromo community), Theophilus Febebe (Ekogbene), Defele Arogbo (Kolegbene), Leftyery Oguma (Oporoza), Igangan Wayan (Ogbe-Ijoh). Others were Stanley Eduobo (Blaibiri), Yaya Captain (Kurutie) Isaac Kpenfe (Kunukunuma) and Tamarabideke June (Torugbene)

The Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities [FNDIC] said the killings of the 15 Ijaw persons “was an avoidable mass murder,” which they claimed was plotted by an oil company and gruesomely executed by the men of the security agencies in the region. The FNDIC alleged that the continuous militarisation of the Niger Delta was not only against the position of the international community but also against the political option adopted by Mr President in peacefully resolving the Niger Delta question.

The Ijaw group maintained that the Letugbene killings were an avoidable mistake the because the soldiers, which opened fire on the Ijaw negotiators, were aware of the rescue operation embarked upon by the Ijaw people on 20 August, 2006, after a collective meeting in Bayelsa State.

The FNDIC queried: “Who ordered the extra-judicial killings of the 15 illustrious sons of Ijaw land?”

They blamed the former minister of state for defence, Dr Rowland Oritsejafor for not preventing the military aggression of 20 August, which led to the death of 15 Ijaw negotiators.

Source: The Guardian website, Lagos, in English 3 Sep 06

BBC Monitoring

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