Conflict in the Niger Delta Militants of the Niger

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					Militants of the Niger Delta:
   Who, What and Why?

       Chief Dr. Judith Burdin Asuni
              Visiting Scholar
           African Studies, SAIS
           September 24, 2008

• This powerpoint contains part of a
 presentation given in 2006, which has
 blue bullet points.

• Updates as of September 2008 are
 marked with yellow bullet points.
Introduction cont’d.

• Through this historical comparison, the
 reader will see that little has been done to
 address the 4 Conflict Drivers in the past
 2 ½ years, yet the situation in the Niger
 Delta has worsened and become more
 difficult to resolve.
In one week of the “Oil War”

• September 13-Attack on Farah Dagogo’s
  camp, destruction of villages, loss of lives
• Sept. 14-MEND declares an “oil war”
• Sept. 14-attacks on Soku Gas Plant and
  Robertkiri facility
• Sept. 15- Alakiri flow station attacked
• Sept. 15 - pipeline blown at Bakana Front
• Sept. 16- Orubiri flow station attacked
Oil War cont’d.

• Sept. 16- attack on Chevron Idama field
• Sept. 17-Rumuekpe pipeline blown up
• Sept. 18-Elem-Kalabari pipeline blown up
• Sept. 19-Buguma Front pipeline blown up
• Sept. 19-Shell declares force majeure
Cut in production estimated between 150-
 220,000 barrels per day
Ceasefire declared Sept. 21

• MEND declares that Hurricane Barbarossa
  has been downgraded to Tropical Storm
• They “stopped outside Baghdad” even at a
  time of victory over the military and utter
  hopelessness of the oil companies
• Intervention of Chief EK Clark, Chief
  Government Ekpemupolo, and others
But where did this come from?

• Not out of the blue
• Had been building for years, especially
 since late 2005
Consequences of Conflict in the
Niger Delta as of June 2006
• At least 1500 conflict deaths a year
• 20,000 to 100,000 IDPs
• 550,000 bpd production shut in since February
• 800,000 bpd shut in since June 3 at $62/barrel
    ($5 cost, $3 SPDC, $54 to Fed Govt.)
•   Subsequent loss of revenue to the Federal
    Government and derivation money to the Niger
    Delta state governments
•   Lack of investment due to insecurity
4 clusters of conflict drivers
identified by both the Yenagoa
Accord and MEND 2006

• Governance issues

• Lack of participation in the oil and gas industry

• Lack of social and economic development

• Militarization of the Niger Delta
Governance Issues
• Specific instances of lack of political participation
    lead to confrontation and conflict
•   Past failure of the Nigerian state to build a social
    contract with people of the Niger Delta-
•   Reliance on oil majors to fulfill the normal
    obligations of government
•   Apathy and reduced expectations of government
Governance             cont’d.
• Lack of free and fair elections in 2003
• Political thugs became militants in 2004
• Fractured militia loyalties- more arms, services
    to the highest bidder
•   Local communities now have own armories
•   Impunity for human rights abuses
•   Corruption of elected officials who enjoy
Participation in the Oil and Gas
• Lack of sense of ownership, participation and
    benefit from industry in the area, leading to
    anger, alienation, aggression
•   Lack of viable income generation opportunities
    and high unemployment, especially among
•   Illegal bunkering and no opportunity for legal
•   Higher costs of petroleum products in the Niger
    Delta than other parts of the country
Oil and Gas Industry cont’d.
• Jobs given to people from outside the Niger
    Delta rather than to indigenes
•   Services also provided by outsiders
•   Local content often not upheld
•   In absence of effective governance, oil majors
    previously forced to be de facto states- but with
    short-term business objectives rather than long-
    term sustainable development needs
Social and Economic Development

• Shortage of social provisions- water, electricity,
    health, education, roads, boat services
•   Degradation of the environment leading to
    collapse of traditional occupations, such as
    fishing and farming
•   Need to diversify the economy away from
    reliance on the oil/gas industry
•   White elephant projects by govt., oil companies,
    foreign donors
•   Disillusionment with NDDC
Militarization of the Niger Delta

• Heavy military presence, increased in
  response to 2003 Warri crisis but still
• Harassment of local residents
• Involvement of the military in bunkering
  and arms supply businesses
Sources of my information

• Work on Interethnic conflict, especially
  Warri, Eleme/Okrika, and Kalabari 1999+
• Asari/Ateke peace process 2004
• Niger Delta Peace and Security Secretariat
• Hostage negotiations 2006-2007
• Study of Armed Groups 2006-2007
• Continuing network- insider information
So who are the militants?

• “youths” aged 20-39 “in their prime”
• Mainly single- but with dependents
• Almost all males
• Many with secondary or tertiary education
• Largely unemployed- c. 30% general pop
• High drug use, also involved in the trade
• Mainly foot soldiers- few top leaders
Sources of income

• Illegal oil bunkering
• Political patronage/thuggery
• Ransoms from kidnappings
• Protection money from state governments,
  oil and construction companies
• Crime- armed robbery, piracy
• Illegal arms deals
• Selling services, mercenaries
Armed groups continually in flux

• Local armed groups for decades but first
  real build-up in Rivers State 1998+
• Campus cults (eg. Vikings) went to the
  street (eg. Icelando)
• 2004 Ateke’s Niger Delta Vigilante with
  Icelandos, Deewell
• Vs. Asari’s Niger Delta People’s Volunteer
  Force, aligned with Greenlanders, KKK,
  DeeBam, etc.
More groups develop

• Late 2005/early 2006 MEND
• Division of MEND into 3 sectors
• Redefinition of former friends into enemies
  and vice versa : Ateke + Soboma, then
  Soboma + Farah against Ateke, then
  Soboma + Ateke against Farah + Eberi
  Papa + Boy Loaf
• Killing of leaders- both Prince Igodos
More groups cont’d.

• Proliferation of camps in Bayelsa,
  especially Southern Ijaw Local Govt.
• New camps in Warri North- Egbema I and
  the Deadly Underdogs
• 2007 elections led to new groups
• Fighters and weapons cross state lines
• Continuously new alliances based on pure
Reasons for joining armed
groups- late 2006
• Protection of their people and land
• Protest over marginalization
• Provision of employment/extra income
• Peer influence
• Low self-esteem
• Political motivation/thuggery
• Violence perpetuated by the state security
Reasons for joining armed
groups- mid 2008
• Increased income- high ransom payments,
  pay-off (politicians, government, oil and
  construction companies) not to cause
  trouble and to provide security
• Vengeance for previous killings/attacks
• Sense of belonging/self-esteem- armed
  groups now called “freedom fighters”
More current reasons for joining

• Forceful recruitment- as groups lose
  members through violence or defection,
  they practice enforced initiation
• Status and influence- students in tertiary
  institutions join armed groups for
  protection against rival groups, to earn
  high marks from teachers through
  intimidation and to get women
2006 study findings

• 2/3 of the members were willing to drop
  out of the armed groups if given
  meaningful moderate employment or self-
• Youth wanted the 4 conflict drivers
  addressed and some of the 2006
  recommendations were still viable:
A Way Forward- Governance
• Building a sense of ownership/social contract with the
    Nigerian state
•   Fair political participation by all residents
•   Genuine engagement by Federal and State Governments
    and external actors
•   Nigerian central elite to demand accountability from the
    State actors
•   Demand to see benefits trickling down from the state to
•   Repatriation of funds and monitoring of expenditure
Way Forward- Governance
• Steps to ensure free and fair elections in
• Pressure from international bodies for
  such elections
• Internal and international assistance with
  curbing illegal arms importation, illegal oil
  bunkering and money laundering
• Rebuilding community governance
A Way Forward- Participation in the
Oil and Gas Industry
• Publication of all oil block allocations and major
    lifting licenses
•   Increased lifting licenses and allocation of oil
    blocks to Niger Delta indigenes, as possible
•   Increased local content
•   Security contracts to local community groups
•   Provision of goods and services by businesses in
    local communities (requires local capacity
Way Forward- Oil and Gas Industry

• Employ local youth in rebuilding shutdown facilities

• Increased ratio of employment by companies- 25%
    management and 67% of the workforce

• Riverine petrol depots- cheaper prices, jobs

• Establishment of company headquarters in the Niger
•   Location of new refineries and facilities in the Niger Delta
A Way Forward- Social and
Economic Development
• Provide the infrastructure that enables economic
•   The Niger Delta as a Special Developmental
    Area- a Marshall Plan
•   Commitment by the Federal, State Govts., NDDC
•   Infrastructural development that encourages
    investment, which creates genuine jobs
Way Forward- Social and Economic
• Multi stakeholder approach by foreign governments, oil
    majors, development experts, NDDC, and government to
    achieve the Millenium Development Goals
•   Federal and State Governments to create the enabling
    environment in such areas as good governance, prudent
    and transparent management of resources and
    infrastructural development
•   Improve transportation and communication- e.g. The
    East/West Road, Coastal Highway- for growth and
The Way Forward- Demilitarization

• Steady withdrawal of troops from the Niger Delta to
    allow community leaders play more roles in building
    peace and restoration of communal confidence
•   Removal of military officers known to be involved in
    bunkering and arms importation
•   Involvement of local communities in surveillance of
    company facilities
•   Community policing
•   Coastal Highway- to bring in development and open up
    interior areas
A Two-Way Forward 2006
• Nigerian State authorities and the international
  diplomatic and business community send a
  strong message to the population of the Niger
  Delta that their plight will no longer go

• In return, the people of the Niger Delta take
  responsibility for rebuilding their community
  governance and providing a conducive
  environment for their development, in which
  they play an important role
  But in 2008:

• The stakes have risen dramatically with
  increasing ransoms, payments by state
  governments to be part of peace accords,
  consequent creation of new groups to
  benefit from these payments
• Creation of new groups, redefinition of
  existing groups, and dramatic increase in
  arms for the 2007 elections by all parties
2008 continued

• Political groups never disarmed and
• Armed groups used to fight political
  battles between godfathers and
• Elections are not related to mandate.
• Absence of good governance and
  accountability - at all levels
2008 continued

• Armed groups being protected by
  politicians, especially at state level, who
  need them for continuity
• Protection of militants and insider
  information from military who benefit from
  the crisis
• Journalists and other militants paid by the
  military to expose militants out of favor
And this is how we got there-

• Lack of immediate and firm response
  when violence started escalating
• Nation is adrift- reactive, not proactive
• Nigerian state officials and the intl
  community have not attended to the
  plight of the people of the Niger Delta,
  leading to frustration, resignation, and
  resort to alternative measures.
Reasons why militia groups are
difficult to disband
• Fear of being arrested by security
  operatives, even if amnesty granted
• Rejection by community or home
• Present status and influence- wealth; and
  fear even by politicians, parents, military
  and community leaders
Possibilities for Peace

• Implement recommendations of previous
  reports- new Technical Committee
• Genuine development \ new Niger Delta
• Genuine job creation / Ministry
• BUT Political Will must be there
• Put pressure on elected govt officials for
  accountability- difficult to do when
  mandate doesn’t depend on elections
Possibilities for Peace cont’d.

• Review of the Land Use Act- more oil
  benefits to communities- ownership
• Stopping BLOOD OIL- illegal bunkering
• Close off sources of illegal arms
• Above 2 will require major overhaul of the
• Once amnesty declared, strict
Possibilities for Peace           cont’d.

• International assistance in stopping illegal
  oil bunkering and arms importation
• Naming and shaming sponsors of violence
• Sanctions applied to such sponsors
• International assistance in DDR
• Security for ex-members of armed groups
  and others must be guaranteed.
                   / \
                 /     \
                /       \
Mindset change and modified behavior must
 be accompanied by improved context.
An Ijaw traditional ruler
• “It is unfortunate what is happening to
 our younger generation- ..idle because
 they cannot find something meaningful to
 do. But instead of helping them, politicians
 and leaders of militants are deceiving our
 children to kill themselves. Most of these
 boys do not see the money or benefit of
 their bunkering and kidnapping.. The big
 men take the lion’s share”
Casi Aaron Boate, died age 29

“ I joined a cult when I was 14 so that no
 one would step my hat or shoes at parties.
 In August 2004, I sat down and wondered
 ‘ What are we doing? How did the
 violence get to this level? How can we
 stop it?’
Casi dropped out of cultism, finished his
 degree, became a peacemaker and was
 killed by a member of his former group’s
 enemy cult in April 2007.
• How many more young Niger Deltans will
 die before Nigerian leaders and the
 international community put a stop to this