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Niger Delta Women for Justice

Beginning with the Ogoni Bill of Rights in 1990, the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta have declared the intention and determination, to reclaim their human dignity and fundamental rights.  These  declarations, The Ogoni Bill of Rights, The Kaiama Declaration, Aklaka Declaration of the Egi People, The Oron Bill of Rights, The Warri Accord, Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit, form the basis for the struggle for self-determination and control of resources by each nationality.

Ethnic Declarations of the people of the Niger Delta

The First Niger Delta Indigenous Women's Conference for Women of Bayelsa State

The Oron Bill of Rights

The Ogoni Bill of Rights

The Aklaka Declaration

The Kaiama Declaration

The Warri Accord

Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit

The Ikwerre Declaration

Demands of the First Niger Delta Indigenous Women's Conference for Women of Bayelsa State held at Yenagoa, 25-27th November 1999

A) TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Conference notes that the Niger Delta People ought to be able to develop themselves and the inability of the people to do this, is as a result of certain inimical laws exiting in Nigeria's various constitutions and other statute books, and the lack of will by the federal government to plough back our resources for our development.  Conference therefore calls for:

1: The immediate repeal of all laws which are targeted at the Niger Delta People some of which include:

i) the 1999 Constitution which does not include the right to self determination , and does not represent our will or aspiriations.

ii) the National Youth Service Corps Decree of 1973 which denies our youths job opportunities when they return from their mandatory 1 year service.

iii) Section 44(3) of the 1999 Constitution which vests all property in and control of minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in and under, or upon any land in Nigeria to the Federal Government.

(iv) Section 25(n) of the 1999 Consititution which gives exclusive jurisdiction in repsect of all claims arising from and pertaining to oil mining and geological surveys on the Federal High Court and denies the Niger Delta people the rights to obtain justice as there is only one court for 10 million people.  We believe and advocate that our people should be able to make claims in the nearest high court to them.

v) The Land Use Act of 1978 which vests all land within the territory of a state on the governor of the state and, used by the Nigerian government and the oil companies to take away the land of our people.

2: An immediate action plan for the development of Bayelsa State, ie building of grade A roads and telecommunications networks, teritiary institutions, hospitals, portable water, modern river transportation etc

3: The demilitarisation of the Niger Delta, and to this end conference calls for the immediate withdrawal of all military personnel out of Bayelsa State

4:Review tax laws of the country to compel the oil companies to pay their taxes to the state governments where their operational basis are situated rather than the present regime of paying to state governements where their head quarters are located.

B) TO THE MULTINATIONAL OIL COMPANIES

Conference notes that the exploitation of crude oil by the multinational oil companies has been largely responsible for devasting environmental, economic and social consequences on our people and the environment of the region.  To this end conference calls for:

1:   The Federal government and the multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to, in conjunction with local NGOs, ethnic groups and international agencies, conduct a thorough environmental audit of the Niger Delta

2:  The multinational oil companies to negotiate with the communities through a bottom-top approach, on the development of these communities with the communities deciding their priorities and participating and controlling the implementation of such priorities.

3:   The Bayelsa House of Assembly / National Assembly to enact laws making it mandatory for the oil companies to take responsibility for the welfare of any child and the mother of such child, born out of any of the company's staffs' promiscuous activities.

4:  The oil companies to henceforth desist from making allegatons of sabotage, without proper investigations of any spill in the presence of envrionmental experts, NGOs and the community members, and to stop the indiscriminate use of youths of the Niger Delta for cleaning up exercises without appropriate protection, as a result of which life expectancy amongst youths has reduced drastically.  Particularly, conference calls on the Senate Committee on Environment, the Federal and the Bayelsa Ministries of Envrionment to investigate the oil spillage at Otuegwe  community which occured in June, 1998, being one of the worst spillages in the Niger Delta.

5:   The Federal Government and Shell to immediately implement the Oloibiri Oil Museum master plan and pay adequate damages to the Oloibiri oil field communities, being Nigeria's first commercial oil well and whose oil has been exhausted and allowed to wallow in penury.

C) TO THE BAYELSA STATE GOVERNMENT:

Conference notes the yearning of the Bayelsa people for development of the state, the need for the state government to do its best for the development of the state.  To this end conference calls on the government of Bayelsa State to:

1)  Create job opportunities for the employment of youths and women.

2)  Design a policy action plan for women development in the state.

3)  Pay a minimum of N10,000 bursary annually to all Bayelsa State students in teritiary institutions of higher learning and make as a priority the education of youths of Bayelsa State especially as it affects the girl Child.

D) TO THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF BAYLESA

Conference notes the spate of inter-and intra- ethnic conflicts between communities and ethnic groups in the Niger Delta and other vices as hostage taking, kidnapping, sea pircy etc which are gradually becomming endemic on our highways and sea routes. While conference locates these vices in the divide and rule policies of the oil companies and the lack of employment of our children in these companies and federal establishments, conference condems these vices and calls for immediate stop to them.  Conference calls on all mothers to advise our youths agains these vices

The Ogoni Bill of Rights

We, the people of Ogoni (Babbe, Gokana, Ken-Khana, Nyo-Khana, and Tai) numbering about 500,000, being a separate and distinck ethnic nationality with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, wish to draw the attention of the government and people of Nigeria to the undermentioned facts:

1: That the Ogoni people, before the advent of British colonialism, were not conquered or colnized by any other ethnic group in present day Nigeria.

2: That British colonization forced us into the administrative division of Opobo from 1908 to 1947.

3: That we protested against this forced union until the Ogoni Native Authority was created in 1947 and placed under the then Rivers Province

4: That in 1951 we were forcibly included in the Eastern Region of Nigeria, where we suffered utter neglect.

5: That we protested against the neglect by voting against the pary in power in the region in 1957, and against the forced union by testimony, before the Willink Commission of Inquirty into Minority Fears in 1958

6: That this protest led to the inclusion of our nationality in Rivers State in 1967, which state consists of several ethnic nationalities with differering cultures, languages and aspirations.

7: That oil was struck and produced in commercial quanitites on our land in 1958 at K. Dere (Bomu oilfield)

8:That oil has been minded on our land since 1958 to this day from the following oilfields (i) Boma (ii)Bodo West (iii)Tai (iv) Korokoro (v) Yorla (vi) Lubara Creek and (vii) Afam by Shell Petroleum Development Company (Nigeria) Ltd

9: That in over 30 years of oil mining, the Ogoni nationality have provided the Nigerian nation with a total revenue estimated at over forty billion naira, thirty billion dollars.

10: That in return for the above contribution, the Ogoni people have received NOTHING

11: That today the Ogoni people have:

    (i) no representation whatsoever in ALL institutions of the Federal government of Nigeria

    (ii) No pipe-borne water

    (iii) No electriticy

    (iv) No Job opportunities for the citizens in Federal, state, public or private sector companies

    (v) No social economic project of the Federal Government

12: That the Ogoni languages of Gokana and Khana are underdeveloped and are about to disappear, whereas other Nigerian langauges are geing forced upon us.

13; That the ethnic politics of successive Federal and state governments are gradually pushing the Ogoni people to slavery and possible extinction.

14: That the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd does not emply Ogoni people at a meaningful or any level at all, in defiance of the Federal government's regulations

15: That the search for oil has caused severe land and food shortages inOgoni, one of the most densely populated areas of Africa (average 1,500 per square mile; national average 300 per sq mile)

16: That neglectful environmental pollution laws and sub standard inspection techniques of the Federal authories have led to the complete degradation of the Ogoni environment, turning our homeland into an ecological disaster.

17:That the Ogoni people lack education, health and other social facilities

18: That it is intolerable that one of the richest areas of Nigeria should wallow in abject poverty and destitution.

19: That successive Federal administrations have trampled on every minority right enshirned in the Nigerian consititution to the detriment of the Ogoni and have, by administrative structuring and other noxious acts transferred Ogoni wealth exclusively to other parts of the republic.

20: That the Ogoni people wish to manage their own affairs.

Now, therefore while reaffirming our wish to remain a part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we make demand up the Republic as follows:

That the Ogoni people be granted Political Autonomy to particiapate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate unit by whatever name called, provided that this autonomy guaranttees the following:

    (a) political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people

    (b) the right to control and use of a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni Developoement

    (c) adequate and direct representations as of right in all Nigereian national institutions

    (d) the use and development of Ogoni languages in Ogoni territory

    (e) the full development of cutlure

    (f)the right to religious freedome

    (g)the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation

We make the above demand in the knowledge that it does not deny any other ethnic group in the Nigerian Federation their rights and that it coan only be conducive to peace, justice and fairplay and hence stabilty and progress in the Nigerian nation.

We mke the above demand in the belief that, as Obafemi Awolowo has written: in a true Federation, each ethnic group no matter how small, is entitled to the same treatment as any other ethnic group, no matter how large.

We demand thiese rights as equal members of the Nigerian Federation who contribute and have contributed to the growth of the Federation and have a right to expect full returns from that Federation.

Adopted by general acclaim of the Ogoni people on the 26th day of August, 1990 at Boro Rivers State.

The Kaiama Declaration:  

BEING COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE ALL IJAW YOUTH'S CONFERENCE WHICH WAS HELD IN THE TOWN OF KAIAMA THIS 11TH DAY OF DECEMBER 1998.

INTRODUCTION

We, Ijaw youths drawn from over five hundred communities from over 40 clans that make up the Ijaw nation and representing 25 representative organisations, met today in Kaiama to deliberate on the best way to ensure the continuous survival of the indigenous people of the Ijaw ethnic nationality of the Niger Delta within the Nigerian state. After exhaustive deliberations, the Conference observed:

a. That it was through British colonisation that the IJAW NATION was forcibly put under the Nigerian State.

b. That but for the economic interests of the imperialists, the Ijaw ethnic nationality would have evolved as a distinct and separate sovereign nation, enjoying undiluted political, economic, social, and cultural  AUTONOMY.

c. That the division of the Southern Protectorate into East and West in 1939 by the British marked the beginning of the balkanisation of a hitherto territorially contiguous and culturally homogeneous Ijaw people into political and administrative units, much to our disadvantage. This trend is  continuing in the balkanisation of the Ijaws into six states-Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, mostly as minorities who suffer socio-political, economic, cultural and psychological deprivations.

d. That the quality of life of Ijaw people is deteriorating as a result of utter neglect, suppression and marginalisation visited upon Ijaws by the alliance of the Nigerian state and transnational oil companies.

e. That the political crisis in Nigeria is mainly about the struggle for the control of oil mineral resources which account for over 80% of GDP, 95% of national budget and 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Of these, 65%, 75% and 70% respectively are derived from within the Ijaw nation. Despite these huge contributions, our reward from the Nigerian State remains avoidable deaths resulting from ecological devastation and military repression.

f. That the unabating damage done to our fragile natural environment and to the health of our people is due in the main to uncontrolled exploration and exploitation of crude oil and natural gas which has led to numerous oil spillages, uncontrolled gas flaring, the opening up of our forests to loggers, indiscriminate canalisation, flooding, land subsidence, coastal erosion, earth tremors etc. Oil and gas are exhaustible resources and the complete lack of concern for ecological rehabilitation, in the light of the Oloibiri experience, is a signal of impending doom for the peoples of Ijawland.

g. That the degradation of the environment of Ijawland by transnational oil companies and the Nigerian State arise mainly because Ijaw people have been robbed of their natural rights to ownership and control of their land and resources through the instrumentality of undemocratic Nigerian State legislations such as the Land Use D ecree of 1978, the Petroleum Decrees of 1969 and 1991, the Lands (Title Vesting etc.) Decree No. 52 of 1993 (Osborne Land Decree), the National Inland Waterways Authority Decree No. 13 of 1997 etc.

h. That the principle of Derivation in Revenue Allocation has been consciously and systematically obliterated by successive regimes of the Nigerian state. We note the drastic reduction of the Derivation Principle from 100% (1953), 50% (1960), 45% (1970), 20% (1975) 2% (1982), 1.5% (1984) to 3% (1992 to date), and a rumored 13% in Abacha's 1995 undemocratic and unimplemented Constitution.

i. That the violence in Ijawland and other parts of the Niger Delta area, sometimes manifesting in intra and inter ethnic conflicts are sponsored by the State and transnational oil companies to keep the communities of the Niger Delta area divided, weak and distracted from the causes of their problems.

j. That the recent revelations of the looting of national treasury by the Abacha junta is only a reflection of an existing and continuing trend of stealing by public office holders in the Nigerian state. We remember the over 12 billion dollars Gulf war windfall, which was looted by Babangida and his cohorts We note that over 70% of the billions of dollars being looted by military rulers and their civilian collaborators is derived from our ecologically devastated Ijawland.

Based on the foregoing, we, the youths of Ijawland hereby make the following resolutions to be known as the Kaiama Declaration:

1. All land and natural resources (including mineral resources) within the Ijaw territory belong to Ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival.

2. We cease to recognise all undemocratic decrees that rob our peoples/communities of the right to ownership and control of our lives and resources, which were enacted without our participation and consent. These include the Land Use Decree and The Petroleum Decree, etc.

3. We demand the immediate withdrawal from Ijawland of all military forces of occupation and repression by the Nigerian State. Any oil company that employs the services of the armed forces of the Nigerian State to "protect" its operations will be viewed as an enemy of the Ijaw people. Family members of military personnel stationed in Ijawland should appeal to their people to leave the Ijaw area alone.

4. Ijaw youths in all the communities in all Ijaw clans in the Niger Delta will take steps to implement these resolutions beginning from the 30th of December, 1998, as a step towards reclaiming the control of our lives. We, therefore, demand that all oil companies stop all exploration and exploitation activities in the Ijaw area. We are tired of gas flaring; oil spillages, blowouts and being labelled saboteurs and terrorists. It is a case of preparing the noose for our hanging. We reject this labelling. Hence, we advice all oil companies staff and contractors to withdraw from Ijaw territories by the 30th December, 1998 pending the resolution of the issue of resource ownership and control in the Ijaw area of the Niger Delta.

5. Ijaw youths and Peoples will promote the principle of peaceful coexistence between all Ijaw communities and with our immediate neighbours, despite the provocative and divisive actions of the Nigerian State, transnational oil companies and their contractors. We offer a hand of friendship and comradeship to our neighbors: the Itsekiri, Ilaje, Urhobo, Isoko, Edo, Ibibio, Ogoni, Ekpeye, Ikwerre etc. We affirm our commitment to joint struggle with the other ethnic nationalities in the Niger delta area for self-determination.

6. We express our solidarity with all peoples organisations and ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and elsewhere who are struggling for self-determination and justice. In particular we note the struggle of the Oodua people's Congress (OPC), the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (Mosop), Egi Women's Movement, etc.

7. We extend our hand of solidarity to the Nigerian oil workers (NUPENG and PENGASSAN) and expect that they will see this struggle for freedom as a struggle for humanity.

8. We reject the present transition to civil rule programme of the Abubakar regime, as it is not preceded by restructuring of the Nigerian federation. The way forward is a Sovereign National Conference of equally represented ethnic nationalities to discuss the nature of a democratic federation of Nigerian ethic nationalities. Conference noted the violence and killings that characterized the last local government elections in most parts of the Niger Delta. Conference pointed out that these electoral conflicts are a manifestation of the undemocratice and unjust nature of the military transition programme. Conference affirmed therefore that the military are incapable of enthroning true democracy in Nigeria.

9. We call on all Ijaws to remain true to their Ijawness and to work for the total liberation of our people. You have no other true home but that which is in Ijawland.

10. We agreed to remain within Nigeria but to demand and work for Self Government and resource control for the Ijaw people.  Conference approved that the best way for Nigeria is a federation of ethnic nationalities. The federation should be run on basis equality and social justice.

Finally, Ijaw youths resolve to set up the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) to coordinate the struggle of Ijaw peoples for self -determination and justice.

The Aklaka Declaraton

ON 10th January 1999, the Egi Ethnic Coalition met at Aklaka, their ancestral headquarters and deliberated on the past three and half decades of total neglect and exploitation of the Egi Clan by both the Federal /State government, and oil companies. It also reflected sadly on the deliberate non-compliance by Elf with the 1993 Peace Agreement reached with Egi Clan, and declared as follows:

The Egi people demand as a matter of right complete control of their land and mineral resources, as well as their environment which has been subjected to serious degradation by the exploitation of Elf Oil Company.

The Egi people believed that their steady slide into extinction can only be reversed by Self Determination.

They are convinced that only a Sovereign National Conference can establish the basis for mutual peaceful co-existence of the various ethnic nationalities within Nigeria and of the continued existence of Nigeria as a corporate unit.

The Egi people condemn the Human Rights violence on the Egi people and on the people of the Niger Delta by the Military Dicatatorship in conjuction with the oil companies

They are also committed to the promotion of Inter and Intra Ethnic Harmony in the Niger Delta as the only means to achieve stability and sustainable development in the Niger Delta.

Bill of Rights of the Oron People

We, the representatives of the Oron Nation, comprised in Oron popular organisations, here gathered to witness as follows: 

That the manifest Destiny of the Oron nation is in the hands of the Oron people, particularly the youth and broad masses.

That the achievement of the manifest destiny must be seen in the total security of the Oron geopolitical space which includes the people, the land, the culture and future 

That the processes and actions relevant in the achievement of the manifest destiny in no way compromised by any Oron citizen even at the pains of death 

That the Oron Nation is prepared to exist within the Nigerian system if only and only if, the security of the land and people is  assured by appropriate affirmative action by the Nigerian Sovereign State by way of a just, equitable and democratic conduct of the affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through its constitutional, political administration and social policies nationwide and particularly as they effect the micro-minorities. 

That the Oron Nation unequivocally rejects the 1999 constitution of Nigeria on the following grounds:  a) that it is arbitrary and undemocratic, imposed by a military cabal committed only to sectionalist interests b) it woefully fails to address the special interest of the micro-nationalities in the country c) it does not respect and observe genuine federal principles upon which any viable pluralistic Nigeria political community must be built d) it has grave feudalistic elements meant to undermine the small ethnic nationalities and development interests. 

DEMANDS

 Fully conscious of the above facts and their implications, the People of Oron demand the following:

 All portions of Oron land and adjoining coast……..be immediately returned to the Oron Nation

The Oron Nation must be made a state within the Niger Delta region

That the Federal Republic of Nigeria be restructured into six regions among with the Niger Delta Region comprising, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states. Each region logically will be made up of a group of states along geo-cultural lines.

The regions should form the federation units each with the power to manage its affairs particularly development according to its cultural realities.

Every region should control its resources 100% from which it will allocate funds for running the central government.

The Central Government should only handle a number of policies such as Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Currency, Customs etc

The control and composition of all security organisations be decentralised, for instance, the military should be controlled and formed on regional commands basis and administered as recommended by the Movement for National Reformation, Izon National Congress, Afenifere , Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) the Ohaneze, Urhobo Union, The Alliance for Democracy, JACON and other patriotic, popular organisations in the country.

Oron Nation solicits the cooperation of all people and civilised world to come to her aid in securing and advancing her culture and protecting her heritage as a small indigenous nationality.

*Excerpted from the Bill of Rights of the Oron People made on June 25th 1999 at Oron.

The Warri Accord

The Guest Oil companies should identify and deal with the said elected true leaders on ground and establish a permanent forum for contstructive dialogue with no holds barred.  

There is a dire and urgent need for the provision of the basic amenities such as contstant electricity, portable water, good roads and derdging of our riverine waterways with a view to the rapid modernization and urbanisation of our riverine and township areas in Warri. 

Additionally vocational centres of training of skilled and semi-skilled craftsmen with a view to poverty alleviation, thus ensuring the encouragement of self-employment through fishing, farming, carpentry and other small scale cottage industries in the more remote and riverine areas of the Warri host communities.

A derivative formula for the direct allocation in the foreign currency of the hydrocarbon is to be paid into an escrew account for the benefit of the Warri host communities multi-purpose co-operative accounts to be opened in the signatures of trusties elected from the true leaders of the people aforesaid and share proportionately in the production ration of all the oil wells in the Warri old area in order to create the STAKEHOLDERS STATUS which the Warri host communities have been praying.

On their part, the Warri host communities as later-day owners and stakeholders must endeavour to raise and operate a vibrant vigilant body to check monitor, police and arrest any person caught vandalising, pipelines and equipment. 

Excerpted from the Warri Declaration adopted after deliberations between Warri families at the Warri National Conference held in Benin City between June 25 -27, 1999.

Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit

The first Urhobo Economic Summit organised by the Urhobo Foundation took place on the 27th and 28th November 1998. The theme of the summit was "Forty Years of ol and gas". The total value of oil produced in Urhoboland to date amounts to over $25.7 billion with little or nothing to show for it. The summit notes the continued degradation of the environment and the marginalisation of the Urhobos in all spheres of the nations economic and political life after 40 years of oil and gas exploitation in Urhoboland and calls for an immediate halt by addressing the following:

IJERHE (JESSE) FIRE DISASTER

The summit calls on the Federal Government to immortalise the souls of the 1,063 Nigerian lives lost during the inferno by building a specialist hospital as a national monument at the site of the disaster.  The Summit notes that oil is still leaking at Jesse and other points along the line of the 20 year old pipeline.

OBJECTIONAL LEGISLATION

The summit notes the existence of severap petroleum leglistative instruments promulgated to strangulate the oil producing areas. Such leglislation include the Land Use Decree of 1978, the Interpreation Act of 1964, the Constitution of 19779 and the Petroleum Act of 1969. The PTF should be abolished,  The OMPADEC decree should also be replaced with legislation giving the oil producing areas the right of exploitation and utilization of all resources in their territory and the responsibilty  for the development and environmental protection of their ancestral lands.

DERIVATION

The Summit notes with great concern the economic enslavement of the oil producing areas through the massive reduction of the application of the principles of derivation from 100% to 50% and further to 45% in 1970. Between 1971 and 1985, derivation principle was removed by the Okigbo Commission.    Following wide spread protest and discontent derivation which was 1.5% was increased to 30% in 1990 and the constitutional conference of 1995 recommends 13%.   The Summit wishes to replace the principle of derivation, with complete ownership and control of oil and gas wealth in our domain as the only way out of 40 years of marginalisation and deprivation.

EMPLOYMENT TRAINING AND ENTREPRENURSHIP

The Summit notes the systematic and complete take over of all facets of the oil industry by three majority ethnic groups in the country who do not produce oil, and also do not suffer the environmental degradation resulting from  oil exploration.  The Summit calls for immediate and unconditional implementation of the Federal Government Policy which restricts employment of non-skilled labour entirely to indigenes of oil producing areas and 70% of skilled labour also to indigenes. The Summit also calls on Shell to implement fully its June 1994 policy in indigenous contrators and employment as well as increase the scholarship award to indigenes in the oil producing areas.  The Summit calls on all Oil Compnaies to establish an "Indigenes REcruitment Centre" to counter the use by other ethnic groups of the advantage of NYSC posting.

THE OIL COMPANIES

The Summit notes that the oil companies are paying lip service to the issue of envirnmental polilution and degradation and in collaboration with the Government have created opportunities for disunity among ethnic grouops in the oil producing areas. The oil companies have been interested in hand outs and not partnership. The situation in Ogoni and Ijaw lands is a signal to the Government and the oil companies about the urgent need to redress the marginalisation of the oil companies to work out a "Marshall Plan" for the immediate development of the Niger Delta oil producing communities comprising 9 states out of the 36 but producing 80% of the total Government revenue and 95% of foreign exchange revenue.

URHOBO LANGUAGE

The Summit notes that with the massive environmental degradation, the loss of traditional occupations of the people and the discrimination in employment and contracts many Urhobos have migrated to other urban centres leading to the abandonment of the Urhobo language and culture. The Summit recommends the immeidate establishment of Urhobo Language Centers.

CONCLUSION

The Summit recognise the convergence of the desires and grievances of all communities in the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta. Any development that benefits any area will always similarily impinge on other neighbours. Therefore, there is the need for a focus on the real issues and full cooperation to avoid conflict amongst ourselves. Working together is the only way that we can achive these mutual and lasting goals.

Exceprts from the Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit

IKWERRE RESCUE CHARTER

 A DECLARATION ADOPTED AT THE ALL IKWEERE YOUTHS CONVENTION HELD UNDER THE AUSPICES OF IKWERRE YOUTHS CONVENTION (IYC) IN THE HISTORIC TOWN OF ELELE (OMENELE) IN IKWERRE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA ON 4TH SEPTEMBER, 1999

 PREAMBLE

Long before the forced amalgamation of northern and southern Protectorates in 1914 by the British colonialists, Nigeria was and essentially remains a union of vibrant ethnic nationalities. The creation of a 12 -state structure in May 1967, threw up pristine Nigerian nationalities, which older and larger dispensations had Subjugated. The idea of state creation heightened the quest for Self-assertion and recognition of the ethnic identities of previously  disadvantaged nationalities within the Nigerian Federation. Based on the actual acts of discrimination and marginalisation within the old Rivers State, the Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality was and remains deeply committed to the principle of self-determination and autonomy to preside over our own affairs within the Nigerian federation. 

Arising from the above facts therefore:

We, the Youths of Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality, acting for ourselves and on behalf of our distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria with a population of 14 million persons, presently comprising Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre and Emohua local government areas, do hereby make the following declarations to the people and government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and to the world:

That as a unique ethnic nationality, our medium of communication (Ikwerre) has been recognised within the Niger Delta and the Federation as a Nigerian Language. That about 60% of our land have been acquired in the last 100 years for purposes of "development", resulting in the sacking of several towns and villages; for example, Orominieke, Eligbam, Elieke (parts of "Bori Camp") etc, without any form of compensation, and the cruel destruction of centres of worship and tourism, holy lands, graves and forests.

That the predominant farming occupation of our people was dealt a decisive blow with the acquisition of Obomotu (later renamed Port Harcourt) by the British. Since then, our ethnic nationality has come under severe pressures as a result of unremitting land acquisition by governments, companies and individual speculators, resulting in unspeakable land alienation and socio-cultural dislocation that have now forced our young people into alcoholism, prostitution, unemployment and crime, etc.

That some of the lands pretentiously acquired for public use, have since been converted into private use by dubious government agents without adequate compensation, or reference to the original owners.

That articulate and influential Ikwerre personalities have been and are still being trailed, harassed and assassinated by faceless elements apparently enjoying official protection. This way, about 1,000 thousand activists (including the renowned scholar, statesman and politician,. Chief Senator (Dr.) Obi Wali have been murdered in suspicious circumstances in the last 10 years.

That Chief Senator (Dr.) Wali was brutally murdered in the sanctuary of his bedroom on 6th April 1993, while agitating for self-determination and development of the Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality in particular and other nationalities, by officially commissioned assassins who are still enjoying immunity from prosecution.

That even now, stringent efforts are still being intensified by powerful cabals to balkanise our homogenous ethnic nationality with a  view to reducing the Ikwerre people into expendable minorities in there God-given land.

That despite the fact that in a true Federal system larger ethnic groups should not swallow or subjugate smaller groups, no Ikwerre indigene has been appointed as either a Minister, Ambassador, Presidential Special Adviser, Presidential Special Assistant, Chairman of a Federal Board/Commission, University Vice Chancellor, Governor, Security Chief or into related positions since we were forced into the Nigerian "Federation".

That the crude oil forcefully taken from Ikwere land in the last forty years without any compensation is valued at Sixty Billion United State Dollars ($60 b).

That the mindless exploration and exploitation of crude oil on our ancestral lands have inflicted grave environmental, socio-cultural and economic pains on our people to the point of extinction.

That the continuation of these identified forms of exploitation, marginalisation, oppression, group alienation amount to ethnic decontamination and deliberate exclusion of Ikwerre People from Government and Corporate Institutions.

That the indigenous colonisers and their inside collaborators cleverly renamed parts of Rumuwoji community in Rebisi Kingdom, as 'Abonnema Wharf', including the Kidney, Eagle and Isaka Islands from which further encroachments are still being made into the Ikwerre hinterland.

That gas flaring and rampant explosions at several oil locations have sacked several Ikwerre communities. An examples is the devastating inferno at the Apara Flow Station operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, which burnt down several villages, polluted the environment and reduced indigenes of these areas into internal refuges in peace time in the late 1960s

That a complex networks of oil pipelines and abandoned dry wellscriss-cross the length and breath of Ikwerre land with attendant environmental degradation, including incessant oil blow-outs.

Today, we the Ikwerre Youths drawn from all the villages, towns, clans and those in the diaspora, gathered under the auspices of the Ikwerre Youths Convention (IYC), determined to take our destiny in our own hands, and to free ourselves from over a century-long entrapment and enslavement, repression and exploitation in the present Nigerian Federation, wish to openly and boldly publicise our cause.

DECLARATIONS

Conscious of the damages and devastation done to our environment by the multi-national and state owned companies in the oil, gas, chemical, agricultural and construction industries through many years of exploitation and exploration of our natural and mineral resources, we hereby demand that all affected institutions should stop operations in Ikwerre land with immediate effect, in their own interests. Realising the impact now and in the future of the continuous acquisition of our ancestral lands under the camouflage of state and national developm ent; knowing the number of such hectares of land ceased for about 100 years, which financial value runs into billions of dollars and the negative effects of such unregulated acquisition of our only source of economic well-being and its attendant impact on us and our future generations in relation to the erosion of our culture and the calculated extinction of our ethnic group, we hereby re-assert our right to existence and dignity as clearly specified in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the African Charter on peoples and Human Rights, particularly as they affect the protection of vulnerable indigenous tribes, we state as follows:1. That no further forceful acquisition of our lands by the government, its agencies or representatives, companies or individual speculators will be tolerated forthwith.

2. That the Ikwerre people will employ all legitimate and democratic instruments at our disposal to resist any such forceful acquisition of our lands and resources, now or in the future. 3. We firmly demand the payment of reparation for all our seized and stolen lands from both the Nigerian and Rivers State Governments. Realising the fact that our people are marginalised in all institutions, resulting from an official and deliberate conspiracy, we demand effective and adequate representation in all institutions in Nigeria, and hereby resolve that we shall within the confines of our constitutional and democratic rights, resist any further act(s) of policy that portend to marginalize our people in the present Rivers State and the larger Nigerian Federation. Cognisant of the fact that our right to self-determination, resource ownership and control cannot be actualised without the abolition of all anti-people laws and policies, we demand the immediate abolition of the following laws: The Land Use Act (as amended) in 1978; The Petroleum Act (as amended) in 1969, etc. These objectionable laws are repressive and cannot guarantee our survival if they continue to exist in our statute books; because they deny us the use of are God-given resources. Aware of our vulnerability and susceptibility to political and other forms of manipulations by our age-long oppressors and exploiters, it is resolved hereby and we appeal to the International Community, the Economic community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Commonwealth of Nations, the European Union (EU) the United Nations Organisation (UNO) and several other institutions and individuals concerned with human and environmental rights and indigenous and minority peoples' rights, to support and come to our aid in our just crusade for democratic rights, justice, equity and fairplay.

Aware that the re-naming of Rebisi to what is called Port Harcourt in 1913 is a violation of our right to self-determination and forceful deprivation of our ancestral ethnic identity, and an attempt to force the Ikwerre ethnic nationality into extinction, we demand that Port Harcourt should revert to its original name of OBOMOTU-REBISI forthwith. Aware that we have the right to self-determination and development as a  distinct and homogenous people, we demand the immediate creation of an IKWERRE STATE (presently comprising Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre and Emohua Local Government Areas), as it remains one of the only viable means through which our wishes, aspirations and survival can be guaranteed since most part of the current Rivers State do not want us. We resolve as a people to defend these declarations by every legal and democratic means possible in seeking the implementation of our demands. As a result we will categorically employ all legal and democratic means at our disposal to achieve our objectives. We are ready and willing to meet and dialogue with representatives of the Nigerian government at the earliest practicable date to address these issues.

We express our solidarity with all oppressed peoples in Nigeria in their just struggle for justice and equity particularly the Ogonis, the Ijaws, the Ogbas, the Etches, t he Efiks, the Ibibios, the Ekids, the Ekpeyes, the Igbos the Urhobos, the Itshekiris, the Isokos, etc.

Finally, IYC is a democratic and non-violent body, committed to the promotion of peace and justice. We will adopt a policy of non-violent resistance in pursuit of the above legitimate aspirations. We believe in and are ready and willing to dialogue with any body or institution as a means of addressing and finding possible solutions to the various problems confronting the Ikwerre people. Ikwerre land bears our ancestral blood; it must bear our will now and in the future. The youths of Ikwerre Ethnic nationality are irrevocably committed to the total emancipation of Ikwerre land from modernised slavery. It is time to say No! No to oppression No to exploitation. No to marginalistion. No to alienation from our ancestral land. No! No! No! To everything that compromises our humanity and dignity as a people both in the Niger Delta and the Nigerian Federation.

Excerpts from the Ikwerre Charter

 

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