Nigeria: Combat Moves Into the Courts

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December 4, 2005: In the oil rich Delta region, police and troops have cowed the large, tribe based, oil stealing gangs into backing off on aggressive operations. Following up on that, the courts have gone after the leaders of the two major gangs (Oodua Peoples Congress, and the Niger Delta Volunteer Force). For the moment, this is working. In the north, Islamic radicals have been quiet lately.

December 3, 2005: In an admission that the police are often out of control, the government has offered cash compensation to the families of six people shot dead by police last June. The police claimed the civilians were criminals, when in fact they were a group of people coming home from a party, who got into a verbal dispute with the police.

December 1, 2005: The government disowned a state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was arrested in Britain three months ago, for money laundering. Free on bail, last month Alamieyeseigha slipped out of Britain, disguised as a woman. This shocked most Nigerians, who have seen a lot of corruption in their elected officials. However, state governors have immunity from prosecution. But the federal government has sent troops to Alamieyeseigha's state capital, and frozen state funds in Alamieyeseigha's Bayelsa state. That's a lot of money, because Bayelsa produces 30 percent of the nations oil, and, by law, 13 percent of that income comes back to the state that produced it, for development projects. But in Bayelsa, the governor steals a large chunk of the state income. Members of the Bayelsa state legislature are trying to impeach their governor.

A few senior officials have been arrested for corruption, but this has not slowed the shady dealings. Nigerians are still dismayed at the extent of corruption among politicians and businessmen. It strangles the economy and is fueling separatism.

 

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