August 24, 2008: Newly elected president
Umaru Yar'Adua has replaced the senior leadership of the army. This was partly
in response to the failure of the army to deal with the armed rebel groups in
the Niger river oil region. There was also criticism of troops performing
poorly, and misbehaving (rape, robbery and murder) against civilians. The
government is also keen to reduce corruption in the army. Earlier this year,
the army appointed a new commander for the Niger delta region, with orders to
crack down on the oil theft. This was followed by accusations, by civilians in
the oil region, that the army has often become partners with some of the oil
theft gangs. Last month, Britain agreed to send a major army training mission,
to upgrade the leadership and management skills of Nigerian NCOs and officers.
August 19, 2008: Near Port
Harcourt, in the Niger delta, a battle broke out between criminal gangs.
Hundreds of civilians fled, and there were several dozen casualties. The
millions of dollars made each month by stealing oil has left thousands of young
men in the delta region armed, and organized into highly competitive, and
trigger happy, gangs.
August 15, 2008: In the Niger
delta, rebels ambushed to navy gunboats, which immediately returned fire. When
the action was over, one sailor and twelve rebels were dead. MEND denied that
the attackers were theirs.
August 14, 2008: Despite recent
attacks, by armed Nigerian nationalist groups, on Cameroonian troops in the Bakassi
peninsula, the two year process of turning it over to Cameroon has completed.
This oil rich area used to be Nigerian, but an international court awarded it
to Cameroon. Nigeria began handing it over two years ago, but some Nigerian
groups have continued to fight for a return to Nigerian rule.
August 12, 2008: Britain, like
many other Western nations, continues to warn its citizens to stay away from
Nigeria's oil region (the Niger river delta), because of the threat of
kidnapping and crime in general.