Nigeria: Fight, For The Right, To Steal

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November 26,2008: The oil stealing gangs in the Niger delta have obtained heavy (12.7mm and larger) machine-guns, and are using them to keep military helicopters away from major gang camps in remote areas.

November 25, 2008: Some 30 speedboats full of gunmen clashed with soldiers in the Niger delta. The gangsters retreated, after losing at least two dead. This was apparently connected with the recent seizure, by the army, of three small refineries the gangs had set up, to refine stolen oil for their own use and sale on the local black market. The army also raided a gang camp and seized weapons and ammo. The gangs have apparently not offered a large enough bribes to military commanders, thus the attacks continue. Meanwhile, another corrupt scam has been revealed when it was publicized that a $7.6 billion contract for the construction of a major railroad line, was padded with an additional $800 million (for bribes to government officials), and $250 million was paid out, without authorization from the legislature. This occurred last year, as former president Olusegun Obasanjo was about to leave office. Obasanjo had pledged to clean up corruption, but he was surrounded by aides who had other ideas.

November 22, 2008: A former anti-corruption official was arrested, for no particular reason, at the graduation ceremony for a training ceremony for a course he was forced to take. The chief investigator for the national anti-corruption commission, Nuhu Ribadu, had been ordered, late last year, to stop investigating and take a yearlong "training course," that senior police commanders like himself are assigned to periodically. But to most Nigerians, this assignment was an indication that the corrupt politicians have gotten through to the new president, and gotten this very effective corruption investigator off their backs. While taking the course, at least one attempt was made on Ribadus life, by gunmen that missed. The police also demoted him, without giving a reason why. But most Nigerians believe corrupt politicians are trying to get rid of Ribadu permanently.

November 21, 2008: Another oil facility was raked by gang gunfire, as another retaliation for the seizure of a gang tanker full of stolen oil.

November 20, 2008: Ten speedboats, each carrying several armed men, attacked an oil facility with gunfire, but sped away when soldiers guarding the place returned fire. This incident was believed to be another retaliation, with the implied threat that things could get worse, for the recent military seizure of a tanker carrying millions of dollars worth of stolen (by the local gangs) oil to a neighboring country.

November 19, 2008: A senior anti-corruption official was forced to resign, after being caught accepting a bribe. The official was investigating the chief-of-staff for the governor of Rivers state, one of the states in the Niger delta oil region, for stealing $40 million.

November 18, 2008: A secret military trial has sentenced six soldiers to life in prison for selling weapons to Niger Delta criminals from 2000-2006. This proceeding was kept secret because of growing public anger against the government, which seems incapable of dealing with growing corruption and poverty. That facts are these. In the last 37 years, the government has earned over a trillion dollars ($1,190 billion) in oil revenue, most of which has been stolen or misused. This corruption is the main cause of the unrest in the country, especially the oil producing areas. Since 1980, the poverty rate (the percentage of people living on less than $400 a year) has gone from 28 percent to over 60 percent today. About five percent of the population lives on over $1,000 a year, and these are usually connected with the corrupt politicians who have stolen all that oil wealth.

November 17, 2008: The government has been forced to investigate the assault on a woman by soldiers. The video of the incident got onto the Internet. The soldiers involved were the bodyguards for a major general, and the woman was attacked because she did not get out of the way of the generals convoy fast enough. Normally, the woman would have no recourse, but because of the video, the army will go through the motions of convening an investigating panel which will dither until public attention dies down. This will serve as another irritant for an increasingly angry public.

November 16, 2008: MEND rebels seized a cargo ship, and its ten man crew, in the Niger river delta. This is believed in retaliation for the recent government seizure of a tanker carrying 28,000 tons of stolen (by gangs that tap into pipelines) oil. As much was MEND wants social justice for the people of the Niger delta, they also want to maintain their lucrative oil stealing operation. The ship and its crew were released a day later.

 

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