The kidnapping continues, despite
heavy security for foreign oil workers. The kidnappers are now going after
family members of government officials. There are too many of these to guard.
This has also gotten the attention of the politicians, who are now more
involved with trying to stem the growing criminal activity in the Niger Delta
oil region. The union representing Nigerian oil workers is threatening to
strike, and shut down most oil exports, if something is not done about the
growing violence. Currently, about 25 percent of oil exports are blocked by
gang violence. The gangs are out of control, and it's largely the fault of
local politicians. It's long been customary for Nigerian politicians to hire a
crew of thugs to try and disrupt the campaigning efforts of rival. The
political gangs are also used to intimidate voters on election day. Over the
years, some of these gangs became year round operations. The gangs branched out
into other criminal activities, besides election fraud. In the Niger Delta, the
gangs got into stealing oil from pipelines. This proved more lucrative than
whatever local politicians paid. Now the gangs are rich enough to buy plenty of
weapons, transportation and other gear. The gangs are on a roll, and no one has
August 16, 2007: Soldiers and police attacked the
headquarters of one of the gangs that had recently terrorized Port Harcourt in a battle to control criminal
activities. The raid left over a dozen gangsters dead, and even more under
arrest. Many fled, however, including most of the leaders.
August 14, 2007: Equatorial Guinea, the smallest
country in Africa (in terms of population, with fewer than 600,000 citizens)
will have its armed forces trained by the Nigerian army. Oil was discovered in
Equatorial Guinea during the 1990s, and 350,000 barrels a day (about $25
million worth) are currently exported.
But most of the money is stolen by government officials. The Nigerians will
train Equatorial Guinea soldiers, who will help keep the current rulers in
August 13, 2007:
Soldiers and police regained control of
Port Harcourt, driving hundreds of gang gunmen into hiding, or out of
the city. A week of fighting between the two gangs caused over a hundred
casualties, about a third of them dead.
August 10, 2007:
Two gangs have been fighting for control of territory in the Port
Harcourt, the largest city in the Niger
Delta oil region. It took police several days to figure out that the various
gun battles were connected.