Nigeria: Moslems And Christians Square Off Over The Right To Steal


May 14, 2010:  Oil stealing gangs continue to damage oil pipelines in the Niger Delta, and prevent oil companies from meeting their oil export targets. The gangs punch holes into the pipes, steal oil, and then leave the oil flowing. One recent leak caught fire, causing greater damage to the pipeline. Last year, these criminal activities led to over 14,000 tons of oil being spilled, most of it ending up in the waters of the Niger Delta. Since the failure of last year's amnesty deal, crime is on the rise in the Niger Delta. This includes kidnapping and robbery, as well as oil theft. Some of the rebel groups are reviving, although these groups do not appear to have returned to their former power, yet.

Things are looking up for anti-corruption efforts. Nuhu Ribadu, the former (very effective) head of the anti-corruption agency, was cleared of trumped up charges that had removed him from his job. Even those who flee the country are in danger. James Ibori, who ran oil rich Delta province from 1999-2007, was recently arrested in Dubai. Many corrupt Nigerian politicians are fleeing, often to neighboring countries. But the government has ordered its diplomats to negotiate deals to have these fugitives arrested and returned to Nigeria for prosecution.

May 12, 2010: Admitting that the amnesty program in the oil rich Niger Delta has failed, the government pledged to re-launch it next month. There are still over 20,000 armed men in the Delta, most of them belonging to rebel and oil stealing gangs. Only about 8,000 men disarmed for the amnesty last year, and many complain that the government did not hold up its end of the deal. The new president, Goodluck Johnson, is putting his reputation on the line to make this work.

May 10, 2010: The leader of the ruling PDP party, Vincent Ogbulafor, was arrested on corruption charges. Despite spirited resistance from powerful politicians, the anti-corruption is nailing big shots who thought their money and connections could protect them. 

May 5, 2010: Ailing (since last November) president Umaru Yar'Adua has died and his vice president Goodluck Johnson, sworn in as president. Johnson had to work with the legislature to get sufficient power (three months ago) to run the country. Yar'Adua's cronies were trying to use presidential power, because Yar'Adua had not signed the document turning power over to the vice president when he took ill last year. Yar'Adua is a Moslem from the north, while Johnson is a Christian from the south, and this had something to do with it. Yar'Adua's term is up next year, and there will be scheduled elections. There has long been an understanding that Moslems and Christians would take turns holding the presidency. Many Moslem politicians are pushing for Googluck Johnson to not run for election, as his one year of presidential power should be followed by another Moslem president. The Christians disagree with this, especially since the corrupt Yar'Adua government (which began as one promising reform) is being cleaned up by an energetic, and clean, Johnson.

May 4, 2010: Quick intervention by senior commanders averted gun battles between police, and soldiers who had set up several illegal roadblocks outside Lagos. Soldiers do this to extract illegal "tolls" from motorists. Police have been ordered to be more aggressive in shutting down any illegal roadblocks.





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