A leading Nigerian lawyer and Niger Delta activist has appealed to
militants to lay down their arm and pursue a legal option. The
militants have waged violent attacks on Nigeria's multi-billion-dollar
oil and gas industry in a quest for a fairer share of the country's oil
three years have seen an upsurge in militant activities in the region
with frequent attacks on oil companies and a wave of kidnappings of
Niger Delta activist Japkor Oghenejakpor says
the time has come for a change of tactics in the Niger Delta struggle.
The oil giant Shell agreed in June to pay $15.5 million in settlement
of a legal action for human rights violations in Ogoni, a small
community in eastern Niger Delta.
"They [militants] should drop
their guns and live a better life. We have a better way of fighting the
struggle of the Niger Delta, through the use of legal process," said
Oghenejakpor. "You can see what happened to the Ogoni people."
Ogonis went to the [world] court and Shell was forced to settle and pay
them some money. That is a way of getting to the matter. And I think if
Nigerian courts are not ready to assist the Niger Delta people, we
should take action in the world courts to seek for redress," he added.
Niger Delta conflict has simmered for over a decade. Government
crackdowns and offers of peace talks have had little effect on the
rebellion. The grievances are rooted in poverty, environmental
degradation and corruption.
President Umaru Yar'Adua in June
offered a 60-day amnesty to gunmen in the delta who have been
responsible for pipeline bombings, attacks on oil and gas installations
and the kidnapping of industry workers.
The region's most
sophisticated and best armed group, the Movement for the Emancipation
of the Niger Delta, has so far rejected the amnesty offer.
forces in May launched their biggest offensive in years against
militants in Delta state, bombarding militant camps from the air and
sea. Security analysts say the government is set to launch a full-scale
offensive in the Niger Delta when the 60-day amnesty program ends on