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Nigeria Offers Money for US Worker's Killers

Expatriate oil workers in Nigeria are still coming to terms with the recent killing of an American oil worker in Port Harcourt. State authorities are offering about $40,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

Rivers State Governor Peter Odili has appealed to Nigerian security agencies to speed up the investigation into the May 10 killing of American oil worker Ricky Wiginton.

The state authorities have offered $40,000 to anyone who can assist in tracking down the killers. Officials believe arresting the killers will re-assure expatriates of their personal safety in the city.

The governor's spokesman, Emmanuel Orkar, told VOA that the government would do everything possible to apprehend those behind the killing.

"We have put down the sum of five million naira [about $40,000] to anybody who will volunteer useful information that will lead to the apprehension or arrest of the people who master-minded this dastardly act," he said. "In addition to that, we have also been talking to the security agencies and encouraging them, the way we have always done, to extend their reach and do a more thorough job, assuring them if they have any handicap, they should always feel free to come back for assistance, at least all is aimed at finding the killers of the American."

Mr. Wiginton, 51, a Texas native, was killed by a gunman in Port Harcourt where he worked as an operations manager of Houston-based oil drilling equipment maker Baker Hughes.

Wiginton was riding to work when a motorcyclist pulled alongside his car and shot him.

Journalist Kelvin Ebiri, who is based in Port Harcourt, says there is widespread insecurity in the region and the Nigerian police have not shown themselves capable of handling the investigation.

"Ordinary, the police are saying they are investigating, but when you look at their antecedent, the police has no track record," he said. "There has never been any record of any assassination case that the police had been able to unravel. A lawmaker was killed in the state in 2001, a member of the state house of assembly. Up until today, the police had not come to tell us who and who are the actual killers of the man. The case is dead. There are several other instances. We know they are trying, but a lot of us do not have confidence in the police."

Mr. Wiginton was killed a day after the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, the group responsible for recent attacks on the Nigerian oil industry, said it will would launch fresh attacks on oil workers. The group has since denied responsibility for his slaying.

The group has previously kidnapped Americans and other foreign oil workers in Nigeria, but later released them unharmed.

Baker Hughes has since evacuated its American workers from the city and invited international law enforcement agencies to investigate the case.