The Nigerian military dictatorship murdered Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists in early November. Fake murder charges have failed to disguise their real "crime": organizing the Ogoni people to demand a cleanup of the ecologically devastated Niger River delta (football field-sized pools of waste oil litter the landscape with the consequential cancer and health epidemic in their wake), and to demand that Shell Oil compensate the Ogoni people for the $30 billion of oil pumped from their lands since 1958.
General Abacha, head of the military junta, has become a billionaire through control of oil revenues, and his colleagues at Shell, Chevron, Mobil, Elf-Aquitaine and AGIP have propped up his corrupt regime against massive civil unrest and opposition.
In spring 1994, the two Nigerian oil workersí unions struck against the inept and corrupt management of the Nigerian oil industry, but also to bring down the generals in favor of the elected Moshood Abiola. According to David Baconís PNS article, "The strike paralyzed most of Nigerian industry. Govít. losses in oil revenues were calculated at $34 million per day. Govít. workers walked out on strike in support. In Nigerian cities, students and others built barricades blocking roads and were brutally dispersed by troops... air traffic controllers joined the strike. The European oil corporations cut production to 60% of normal in sympathy with the strikes, while Shell maintained its regular volume."
But San Francisco-based CHEVRON, and New York-based MOBIL flew in additional foreign workers to keep the oil flowing from their wells and increased production to 120%. Their operations guaranteed continued income, and saved the life of the Abacha military regime... The strike produced windfall profits, when shortages raised the price of light crude oil from $14 to $20 per barrel.
When the generals moved to crush the strike, they arrested oil workers union leaders and have held them without charges or trial ever since. These men, Wariebi Agamene, Frank Kokori, Francis A. Addo and Fidelis Aidelomon are all in danger of summary execution. Appeals are being made to the U.S. government to freeze the assets of the Nigerian generals and companies, and to put U.S. oil payments to Nigeria in escrow.Ē Bank of America with ties to Chevron, and Citibank with ties to Mobil are being targeted also.
Thanks to Gar Smith at Earth Island Institute (300 Broadway, #28, SF 94133, 415-788-3666) for getting this information to us quickly.