News / Africa

Nigeria Government Ordered to Pay for Human Rights Violations

A woman coated in oil perches near a mangrove after fishing in a creek near the River Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012.
A woman coated in oil perches near a mangrove after fishing in a creek near the River Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012.
Heather Murdock
— Fourteen years after the Odi community in Nigeria's Niger Delta was flattened in what many call a 'massacre,' a Nigerian court this week ordered the government to pay the community nearly $240 million within the next three weeks. 
 
Exactly what happened in Odi, a town in oil-rich Bayelsa State, is still unclear. Human Rights Watch says gang members in Odi killed twelve policemen in early November 1999.  
 
A few weeks later, Human Rights Watch says soldiers raided the town of about 15,000 people, destroying almost every single building and possibly killing hundreds of people.
 
Locals say it was thousands who died, and the attacks were racially motivated against ethnic Ijaws, with soldiers writing, "We will kill all Ijaws” on demolished buildings.  The government of the time still defends the raid, saying it was rooting out terrorists and destroying their base.
 
This week, a Nigerian judge ordered the government to pay the town nearly $240 million within 21 days for what it called a "brazen violation of the fundamental human rights of the victims to movement, life and to own property and live peacefully in their ancestral home."
 
Perye Brown, a former chairman of Bayelsa State Youth Council, spoke outside the courtroom. “I find it very exciting.  It has been really, really a breakthrough for the people of Odi, especially the young people of Odi, a lot of whom lost their parents, a lot of whom lost their sort of livelihood that would have earned them an education and [allowed them to] pursue their aspiration," Brown said. "But today this compensation and this justice delivered will show the truth that the people are law abiding and that they believe in the rule of law.”

Nigeria’s attorney general, Nkolika Awa, represented the government in the trial and was surprisingly unconcerned by the verdict. “I found that the judge put in a lot of work.  Always in the law, arguments can go either way or the other.  So really, it does not really matter which way it goes,” Awa stated.

Awa’s lack of concern could be because this decision does not really implicate the current government.  In fact, it implicates the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a critic of President Goodluck Jonathan.
 
Bayelsa is also Jonathan’s home state and the heart of his support base.  Late last year, he told reporters he went to Odi after the incident and saw the bodies of old people, women and children, but no militants.

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godfrey...USA from: USA
February 21, 2013 10:40 AM
Nigerian Judges are waking up from their slumber. I think this should open the door for EFCC to probe Obasanjo. Secondly, OBJ should be held responsible for the payment of this judgement. He stole enough money during his rule and that money belong to the Nigerian government.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid