155/96 : Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) and
Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) / Nigeria
Summary of Facts
1. The communication alleges that the military government of Nigeria has been directly involved in oil
production through the State oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), the
majority shareholder in a consortium with Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC), and that
these operations have caused environmental degradation and health problems resulting from the
contamination of the environment among the Ogoni People.
2. The communication alleges that the oil consortium has exploited oil reserves in Ogoniland with no
regard for the health or environment of the local communities, disposing toxic wastes into the
environment and local waterways in violation of applicable international environmental standards. The
consortium also neglected and/or failed to maintain its facilities causing numerous avoidable spills in
the proximity of villages. The resulting contamination of water, soil and air has had serious short and
long-term health impacts, including skin infections, gastrointestinal and respiratory ailments, and
increased risk of cancers, and neurological and reproductive problems.
3. The communication alleges that the Nigerian Government has condoned and facilitated these
violations by placing the legal and military powers of the state at the disposal of the oil companies. The
communication contains a memo from the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, calling for
‘ruthless military operations’.
4. The communication alleges that the government has neither monitored operations of the oil
companies nor required safety measures that are standard procedure within the industry. The
government has withheld from Ogoni communities information on the dangers created by oil activities.
Ogoni communities have not been involved in the decisions affecting the development of Ogoniland.
5. The government has not required oil companies or its own agencies to produce basic health and
environmental impact studies regarding hazardous operations and materials relating to oil production,
despite the obvious health and environmental crisis in Ogoniland. The government has even refused
to permit scientists and environmental organisations from entering Ogoniland to undertake such
studies. The government has also ignored the concerns of Ogoni communities regarding oil
development, and has responded to protests with massive violence and executions of Ogoni leaders.
6. The communication alleges that the Nigerian government does not require oil companies to
consult communities before beginning operations, even if the operations pose direct threats to
community or individual lands.
7. The communication alleges that in the course of the last three years, Nigerian security forces have
attacked, burned and destroyed several Ogoni villages and homes under the pretext of dislodging
officials and supporters of the Movement of the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). These attacks
have come in response to MOSOP’s non-violent campaign in opposition to the destruction of their
environment by oil companies. Some of the attacks have involved uniformed combined forces of the
police, the army, the air-force, and the navy, armed with armoured tanks and other sophisticated
weapons. In other instances, the attacks have been conducted by unidentified gunmen, mostly at
night. The military-type methods and the calibre of weapons used in such attacks strongly suggest the
involvement of the Nigerian security forces. The complete failure of the Government of Nigeria to
investigate these attacks, let alone punish the perpetrators, further implicates the Nigerian authorities.
8. The Nigerian Army has admitted its role in the ruthless operations which have left thousands of
villagers homeless. The admission is recorded in several memos exchanged between officials of the
SPDC and the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, which has devoted itself to the suppression
of the Ogoni campaign. One such memo calls for “ruthless military operations” and “wasting
operations coupled with psychological tactics of displacement”. At a public meeting recorded on video,
Major Okuntimo, head of the Task Force, described the repeated invasion of Ogoni villages by his
troops, how unarmed villagers running from the troops were shot from behind, and the homes of

Select target paragraph3