Nigerian partner group detained by military at Shell site

Last night, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), the Nigerian partner of Friends of The Earth Norway (FoEN), issued a message that a group of 25 persons were detained by the military when visiting one of Shell’s gas flaring sites at the Iwherekan Community. FoEN should have been part of this field trip, but was unable because the visa was not granted in time.

-This incident clearly shows what forces our partners are up against in the Niger delta, says project manager John Lineikro at FoEN. -We strongly support ERA’s demand for an apology from the Nigerian authorities and the oil company Shell.

There are many news reports on the incident in Nigerian newspapers today*see below and it was already on national television by late last night. The field trip was connected to a workshop on Environmental Impact Assessments**see below. FoEN was part of the planning process and contents, and is shocked by the incident.

In a statement issued yesterday, ERA said some of it’s officers, community elders, women, children and journalists from national newspapers and television stations, including the Federal Government-owned Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), were arrested. The group also included ERA/FoEN project Officer Chima Williams, the plaintiff in the suit against gas flaring, Jonah Gbemre and a member of the Host Communities Network (HOCON), ComradeChe Ibegura. The camera of the NTA crew was seized and confiscated.

Contacts:
John Lineikro, Project Manager (FoE Norway) +47 974 78 849 Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director (ERA/FoE Nigeria) +234-8037274395

*
The Nation

The Guardian

** Agenda of the EIA WORKSHOP IN NIGERIA

 

Background:

A Federal High court sitting in Benin City, Edo State and presided over by Justice V. C Nwokorie, had on November 14th 2005 ordered Shell to stop gas flaring in Iwherekan Community, Delta State by April 2007, saying it violates the fundamental right to life and dignity.

The suit was filed on July 20, 2005 by Mr. Jonah Gbemre on behalf of himself and Iwerekan community against Shell, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Attorney General of the Federation, asking for the stop of gas flaring in the community.

Nigeria has been the world's biggest gas flarer, and the practice has contributed more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined, according to a World Bank 2002 statement. Flaring is also bad for both the environment and the people in the Niger Delta. It can lead to leukemia or asthma and premature death. It causes acid rain which acidifies lakes and streams and damages vegetation.