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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Ogoni in Nigeria

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Date(s) Item
1801 - 1900 The Fulani wars were fought. Missionary activities spread. Britain set up northern and southern protectorates and a colony in Lagos.
1914 Territories were combined to form Nigeria and administered through four provinces - Northern, Eastern, Western and the colony of Lagos.
1922 The Clifford Constitution stipulated that a Legislative Council administer the eastern and western regions. This was regarded as the first step toward autonomy from British rule. The Ibo and Yoruba regions were affected by this change, causing further animosities between the north, which continued to be ruled indirectly by the British, and the potentially autonomous south.
1945 - 1950 The "Jos" riots occurred in the north. These were minor riots in protest of the northern amalgamation with the southern regions. When oil was discovered in the Ibo dominated eastern region, the Emirs of Zaria and Katsina demanded fifty percent of the seats in the newly formed Central Legislature. The Emirs threatened to secede from Nigeria if their demands were not met. The acceptance of these demands signaled the beginning of northern domination of Nigerian national politics.
1953 Anti-Ibo riots broke out in the North in protest of Ibo domination of social, political, business and military institutions. Ibos were hunted down and attacked in Kano, 245 were injured and more than 52 were killed. The southern Yoruba did not participate in the fighting.
1954 The Federal Executive Council (FEC) was created to introduce the eastern and western regions to a system of greater autonomy. This caused further animosities between the northerners and their southern Ibo neighbors.
1958 Shell Oil first strikes oil on Ogoniland.
1959 A coalition between the Hausa-Fulani supported Northern People's Congress (NPC), the Ibo National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC) blocked the western Yoruba controlled Action Group (AG) party from gaining any significant share of central authority in the December elections. A northerner, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was named Prime Minister.
Oct 1, 1960 Nigeria gained independence. A referendum added the territory of Northern Cameroon, called Gongola state, which was administered by Britain as part of Nigeria. Prior to independence, the Ibo dominated the political, social, military and business institutions of Nigeria. After independence, the Ibo lost their privileged status, while the Hausa/Fulani gained affluence and controlled the federal government.
1963 The Federal Republic of Nigeria was proclaimed and Nnamdi Azikiwe was named President.
1965 The Yoruba riot in protest against what they see as forced exclusion of the AG from the Federal government. Ibo attacks on AG followers in the west sparked off the violence. Federal troops had to intervene to bring calm to the areas affected.
Jan 15, 1966 A military coup d'etat led by lower and middle-ranking officers, some of them Ibo, overthrew the NPC-NCNC dominated government. Prime Minister Balewa along with other northern and western government officials were assassinated during the coup. The coup was widely considered an Ibo plot to consolidate power and overthrow the northern dominated government. General Johnson Ironsi, an Ibo, consolidated power in the military and used its power to restore order throughout Nigeria. Ironsi declared all political parties illegal and formed the Federal Military Government (FMG).
Jul 29, 1966 A counter-coup was launched by mostly northern troops. General Ironsi and many others, mostly Ibo, were killed. Between June and July there was a mass exodus of Ibo from the north and west. Over 1.3 million Ibo fled the neighboring regions in order to escape persecution as anti-Ibo riots increased. The military aided some Ibo in their flight but many of those unescorted were massacred. The FMG, now under the control of Major General Yakubu Gowon, a middle-belt tribe member and a Christian, restored calm to Nigeria. The anti-Ibo riots led many to believe that the only way they could live securely was to secede an form their own country.
Aug 1 - Sep 30, 1966 Anti-Ibo riots gained momentum and voracity. The exodus gained greater impetus as hundreds of thousands fled the riot torn north. Armed bands of civilians and militia slaughtered Ibos indiscriminately. Over 30,000, mostly Ibo, were said to have died in the north and west. The eastern region was now flooded with Ibo refugees.
1967 - 1970 The Biafra civil war, an effort by eastern Ibo people to secede, fails with the surrender of Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Between 1.5 million and 2.1 million were killed, including as many as 30,000 Ogoni.
1975 General Gowon was removed from office during a bloodless coup. Many attributed his downfall to his indefinite postponement of a return to civilian rule. The coup was seen as an attempt by middle-belt tribes to consolidate power in the FMG. Gowon was replaced by Brigadier Murtala Ramat Muhammad, a northern Moslem. Under Muhammad, the Ibos continued to be marginalized.
Feb 13, 1976 Muhammed was assassinated in another counter-coup and General Olusegun Obasanjo was his successor. Under the new rule, seven more states were created to allow minority groups more say in the national political arena.
1979 After elections that once again resulted in northern Moslem dominance of Nigerian politics, there were increased claims of "forced Islamization" of the southerners and middle-belt inhabitants. The new government, with President Alhaji Shehu Shagari, had little legitimacy in the eyes of in the middle-belt and southern peoples.
1983 President Shagari was overthrown in a coup d'etat and the military one again intervened to restore order across Nigeria. General Ibrahim Babangida, a northern Moslem, took over to end the corruption and ethnic and religious tension that engulfed the Shagari regime. The FMG was dissolved and the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) is created to rule Nigeria.
1985 An attempted coup was thwarted and over 300 people were arrested. Many of those arrested were summarily executed.
1986 General Babangida allows the country to join the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). This sparks widespread rioting in universities throughout Nigeria and in many southern cities. At this point, the country is thought to be less than 50% Moslem. Clashes between Moslem and Christian students in the north last over a week in Kaduna state. The government declared a dusk to dawn curfew to restore calm. A decrease in the price of oil devastates the Nigerian economy which had become dependent on oil sales.
1987 Religious tensions increase as northern Moslems call for the imposition of Islamic law and courts for Nigeria.
1988 General Babangida announced that Nigeria will remain a secular state. However, to reduce religious tensions, he allows Shari'a courts in Moslem dominated areas.
May 1 - Jun 30, 1989 More than 100 people were killed during widespread rioting which was sparked by student protests against strict economic austerity measures. The rioting spread through several cities and the army was called in to restore order in Lagos and Benin. The government announced that political activity would be temporarily banned in those cities. Eight universities were closed.
May 3, 1989 President Babangida announced the promulgation of a new draft constitution. He also announced, in line with the 1987 timetable for a return to democracy in 1992, the lifting of the ban on political parties.
Jun 22, 1989 The ban on political activity was lifted.
Oct 7, 1989 President Babangida announced the dissolution of all 13 political parties which had applied for registration. He announced the creation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC). The members of the 13 parties were to merge with the newly created parties. The original members of the 13 groups were prohibited from recruiting new individuals to either party. Local elections were postponed.
Dec 1989 A wide-ranging reshuffle of the government left northern Moslems in the offices of the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army and police chiefs, and the Ministers of External Affairs, Petroleum Resources, and Budget.
Jan 1, 1990 President Babangida, in an attempt to polish Nigeria's poor human rights record, ordered a general amnesty for those held in prisons for light offenses who had not yet been tried.
Jan 1990 In early January, Adamu M. Fika and Stephen B. Agodo were appointed to head the two national parties, the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) respectively.
Jan 8, 1990 In the wake of the Cabinet reshuffle, Christians demonstrated in the predominantly Moslem towns of Ondo on 8 January. On 11 January they demonstrated in Kaduna, Jos, Yola and Buachi.
Apr 22, 1990 Dissident middle-ranking Army officers led by Maj. Gideon Orkar attempted to overthrow President Babangida. The mutineers implied that their motives were religious and regional (the mutineers being mainly from the south and Christian). Maj. Orkar stated that he had the backing of the Nigerian Labor Congress, the Bar Association and the unions of journalists and students. Heavy fighting was reported and 10 people were killed. General Sani Abacha, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chief of Army Staff, reaffirmed the military's loyalty to the President and to the continuation of the transition to a multi-party, democratic, civilian ruled state. Major Orkar and 200 lower ranking soldiers were arrested in the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup.
Jul 27, 1990 Forty-two soldiers were executed by firing squad after being found guilty of staging the coup in April. Major Orkar, the organizer of the failed coup, was among those executed. Altogether over 800 people stood trial.
Sep 5, 1990 Several senior government appointees were retired from the armed forces in a major restructuring of the military. The move was in alignment with the process of drastically downsizing the armed forces for the move to civilian rule.
Sep 13, 1990 Twenty-seven soldiers involved in April's coup attempt were executed. The total coup related executions stood at sixty-nine.
Dec 8, 1990 Local elections were held for the first time since the military coup of 1983. A low voter turnout was cited in the south of the country. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 232 chairmanships of local government and had a total of 2,934 councilors elected. The National Republican Convention (NRC) won 206 chairmanships and had 2,558 councilors elected.
Oct 14, 1991 A curfew was declared and all religious gatherings were banned after a major outbreak of religious rioting began in Kano, a principal Moslem center in northern Nigeria. Over 200 were killed. The riots began when 10,000 Moslems marched in the town center, protesting that permission had been granted for a five-day Christian revivalist rally, whereas some weeks previously permission had been refused for a Moslem imam to speak in Kano.
Dec 12, 1991 Abuja, a more politically neutral city in central Nigeria, formally became Nigeria's federal capital.
Dec 14, 1991 State elections took place peacefully. The NRC, right of center party, won 16 of the 30 state governorships and gained control of 13 state assemblies. The SDP won control of 16 assemblies, including those in three states- Lagos, Katsina and Cross River, where the NRC won the gubernatorial poll. The results were thought to hail the end of the regionalization of Nigeria.
Dec 19, 1991 The government, in a surprise move, lifted the ban on former politicians taking part in the transition to democracy. On 20 December, eleven former politicians, earlier detained for contravening the ban, were released.
May 19, 1992 The federal government announced an immediate ban on all associations with "religious, ethnic, tribal, cultural, social group, or individual interests" after months of Muslim-Christian clashes in the north.
May 21, 1992 Fresh rioting was reported in Lagos after the 18 May arrest of Beko Ransome Kuti, Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), and of other leading CD activists. The CD, an umbrella organization of 25 opposition groups, had called for the resignation of the government on 10 May. Kuti accused the government of instigating the violence to delay the transition to civilian rule.
Jul 4, 1992 The SDP won 52 seats and the NRC won 37 seats in the Senate elections. The SDP won 314 seats, the NRC 275 seats in the House of Representative elections. SDP support came from Lagos, the Yoruba-speaking region of the south-west and the middle-belt states. NRC support came mainly from Moslem Hausa and Fulani-speaking states in the north. Fighting was reported at polling stations in several states, mainly in the southeast, and a few elections were postponed in other areas for various reasons.
Sep 1992 Primary elections were held and appeared to be bedeviled by corruption, in spite of a decree which imposed severe penalties on anyone found guilty of electoral corruption.
Nov 16, 1992 President Babangida announced a delay in the transfer from military to civilian rule. Presidential elections were to be held on June 12, 1993 instead of December 5, 1992. The 23 prospective presidential candidates who had contested the discredited primaries would not be permitted to run again and were prohibited from joining the political parties.
Dec 1992 An Ogoni neighborhood in Port Harcourt was attacked by Odtikas. They reduced to ashes a market where Ogoni and Ibo trade goods and 60 were killed.
Dec 15, 1992 A civilian Transitional Council was appointed to form a temporary administration until the return to civilian rule currently scheduled for August 1993. Power still resided with the president and National Defence and Security Council.
Jan 4, 1993 Up to 300,000 Ogoni protest against Shell Oil activities and the destruction of Ogoni land. It is the Ogoni's first mass demonstration. Their leader is Ken Saro-Wiwa. Also in January, Shell withdraws its personnel from the region.
Apr 1993 In the past three years, 3000 people have been killed in the north in Christian/Muslim clashes. Christian Ibo live in the Muslim-dominated north as traders.
Apr 30, 1993 10,000 Ogoni demonstrate peacefully after construction work on a Shell pipeline destroyed some of their freshly planted farmland. Soldiers open fire on the demonstrators wounding at least 10.
May 3, 1993 Agbarator Otu was killed by security personnel while protesting work on the pipeline.
May 24, 1993 Siro-Wiwa began a European tour drawing attention to the plight of his people.
Jun 12, 1993 Presidential elections took place as scheduled. The voting went smoothly but there was a low voter turnout. They were boycotted by the Ogoni.
Jun 15, 1993 The Association for a Better Nigeria (ABN) won a ruling in the Abuja High Court directing the NEC to halt the publication of election results. The NEC complied on June 16. Both political parties issued demands for the release of election results. As tensions increased the military tightened security in the main cities.
Jun 18, 1993 Defying the Court ruling, the Lagos-based Campaign for Democracy (CD) released what it claimed to be the final banned election results. According to them, SDP candidate, Moshood Dashimawo Olawale "MKO" Abiola, who is a Muslim Yoruba, had easily defeated NRC candidate, Bashir Othma Tofa, a Moslem from the north, winning outright in 19 of the 30 states. About one-third of northerners voted for Abiola, seeing him as being more independent of the military than Tofa. After the following months of Yoruba protests, however, Abiola loses support in the north as the Hausa/Fulani began to fear southern domination.
Jun 21, 1993 Saro-Wiwa is arrested, along with other leaders of MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People). Ogoni protest the following day in Bori. Indiscriminate beatings and arrests of Ogoni are frequently reported.
Jun 23, 1993 Two days after the NEC had lodged an appeal against the Abuja High Court ruling with the Federal Court for Appeal in Kaduna, the NDSC announced that the presidential elections had been annulled.
Jun 24, 1993 Moshood Abiola, a Muslim Yoruba and member of the SDP, proclaimed himself President of Nigeria and urged the international community to support him against the military. The CD called for mass disobedience until the NDSC rescinded their annulment.
Jun 25, 1993 President Babangida promised that the transfer to civilian rule would occur as scheduled but a new poll would be held and new rules written so that Abiola and Tofa would be banned from the new election. Also in June, outbreaks of unrest, in which over 100 were killed in northern and western states, were reported.
Jul 5, 1993 Political unrest brought Lagos to a halt as thousands heeded a strike and civil disobedience call. Protesters cordoned off the business district with burning barricades and called for the immediate installation of SDP candidate Abiola as president.
Jul 7, 1993 Tanks were dispatched to quell the violence in Lagos, calm was reportedly restored.
Jul 9, 1993 At least 60 Ogoni were killed by members of the Andoni ethnic group. This marks the beginning of Ogoni-Andoni violence.
Jul 13, 1993 The NDSC formally withdrew its offer of setting up an interim government and called for new elections. The new election date of August 14, was announced a few days later. The SDP repeated its refusal to participate in the new elections stating that the June elections were free and fair. The NRC accepted the new dates.
Jul 27, 1993 Hundreds of northern and eastern Nigerians began to flee their villages after rumors of war began to circulate. The Hausa, Kanuri and Ibos feared that despite Lagos' calm, a new wave of unrest could explode if Babangida reneged on his promise to relinquish power. Within the next few weeks, 10,000 will have fled Lagos.
Jul 31, 1993 President Babangida resurrected the idea of an Interim National Government (ING), that would consist of members of both parties and military personnel. The proposal was rejected by Abiola.
Aug 4, 1993 Abiola fled Nigeria after receiving death threats. He began a trip to seek international support.
Aug 5, 1993 The village of Kaa in Ogoniland is attacked by Andoni backed by men in Nigerian military uniforms, and 35 deaths are reported. Over the next months, similar incidents occur in 20 other villages. MOSOP accuses Shell and the government of being behind the Andoni aggression. Ogoni police officers were withdrawn from the region several weeks earlier.
Aug 12 - 14, 1993 A three day strike was called by the CD and was heeded in Yoruba areas. Lagos, the country's main economic area, was once again deserted and idle. The government put tight restrictions on the publishing of papers and tougher penalties on those papers that print "false statement, rumors, or reports".
Aug 25 - 27, 1993 The CD organized another round of strikes and the country's economic heartland came to a standstill.
Aug 26, 1993 President Babangida stepped down, handing over power to a non-elected Interim National Government (ING). Two advisory bodies were created, the National Defence Council (NDC) and the National Security Council (NSC). The NDSC became obsolete, but several of its members joined the new Cabinet and Councils.
Aug 27, 1993 The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), a federation of 42 main unions, rejected the ING and demanded the installation of a constitutional administration headed by Abiola. An indefinite strike began the following day. They were joined by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (Nupeng), which said its 50,000 workers would bring production to a halt.
Aug 31, 1993 MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People) leaders meet with Babangida's Interim Government. This marked the first time the Nigerian government officially discussed the situation in Ogoniland with MOSOP.
Sep 14, 1993 Unconfirmed reports suggest up to 1000 Ogoni killed in raids on two villages. Andoni blame the violence on the Ogoni saying they want to annex Andoni villages to create an Ogoni kingdom. The Ogoni blame the government and Shell for using the Andoni and trying to turn their struggle into an ethnic conflict.
Sep 19, 1993 The NEC announced that presidential elections would be held on February 19, 1994. Following the announcement, the CD called for a national strike between September 29-October 1. There were mixed reports on the success of the strikes. Nigerian radio reported that the strike call had gone largely unheeded. However, Pan-African News Agency (PANA), reported that the streets of Lagos were empty and that most businesses and banks were closed.
Sep 24, 1993 SDP leader, Abiola, returned to Nigeria and was greeted by over 100,000 supporters.
Oct 3, 1993 The SDP, previously divided over support for Abiola, reconciled and announced that they would boycott any new elections. They viewed the June 12 elections as free and fair and demanded the installment of Abiola as president. In contrast, the NRC, on 19 October, rejected the June 12 elections and embraced the idea of new elections.
Oct 6, 1993 A peace agreement between Ogoni and Andoni is signed, but without Saro-Wiwa's signature or the consultation of the communities involved. MOSOP later accepts the peace agreement except for two paragraphs. The Chairman of the Peace Conference, Claude Ake, a U.S. trained political scientist, wrote to the governor of the region that the peace agreement was drafted hastily without proper consultation of the Ogoni and Andoni.
Oct 25, 1993 One Ogoni man is killed and two wounded when they are shot by military personnel at the Korkoro oil fields.
Nov 10, 1993 The Lagos High Court declared the ING unconstitutional and illegal in a ruling of a case filed by Moshood Abiola.
Nov 15, 1993 Shonekan's plans to hold new elections appeared non-viable after a voter registration campaign met with a complete boycott in the south-west, a stronghold of Abiola.
Nov 17, 1993 Nigeria came once again under the control of the military. The Defence Minister, Gen. Sanni Abacha, took over as Head of State after forcing the resignation of Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan, head of the Interim National Government. Abacha took over the positions of Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
Nov 18, 1993 General Abacha announced the dissolution of the main organs of the state and established the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC). Almost every political appointment or governmental structure created under Babangida was dismissed and dissolved. Abacha called on the unions to return to work immediately. He lifted the bans on the media and promised to establish a constitutional conference with full constitutional powers.
Nov 21, 1993 Abacha reinstated the 1979 Constitution (of the Second Republic) and formally establishing the PRC. The government included several prominent supporters of Abiola in its Cabinet.
Nov 23, 1993 Moshood Abiola met with Abacha but no details of their discussion were made public.
Dec 13, 1993 Over 90 people are killed in Port Harcourt in violent clashes between Ogoni and Okirika over crowed land and water fronts.
Dec 28, 1993 Two Ogoni leaders are arrested without charge. The Ogoni Assembly is dispersed by soldiers and "Ogoni Week" is aborted because police did not receive a request for a permit from MOSOP.
Jan 2, 1994 Ken Saro-Wiwa is placed under house arrest. In 1993, there were 51 incidents of violence in Delta, Edo and Ondo states and 108 incidents in Rivers, Akwa, Ibom, Imo and Abia states.
Jan 4, 1994 The Ogoni leaders arrested in December are released and Saro-Wiwa's house arrest is lifted. The three major oil companies in Port Harcourt are reported to have lost 200 million dollars in 1993 due to the protests of the Ogoni.
Apr 1994 A small conflict between Ogoni and Okoloma leads to serious clashes. Fifteen Ogoni are arrested. In a week and a half of violence, over 30 Ogoni were killed and several villages destroyed. Soldiers have been given orders to shoot troublemakers.
May 22, 1994 Ken Saro-Wiwa was seized from his home by armed forces. It was later learned he is being held in the Bori Military Camp in Port Harcourt. An application for his release has been made to the Nigerian High Court. At least 8 other Ogoni are being held with Siro-Wiwa. The abductions follow the murder of four pro-government Ogoni leaders.
May 23, 1994 Nigerians were given the day off to vote on a new Constitutional Conference to sit from June to October to debate how to convert the state to civilian rule. There were neither parties nor issues. Only 10% of the voters turned out. The 273 delegates elected to the constitutional conference were mainly Hausa-Fulani from the north and some Ibo from the southeast. Yoruba politicians did not take part in the conference. In addition to the elected delegates, the military reserved the right to name 96 delegates to the conference.
May 31, 1994 Nigerian authorities arrested hundreds of Ogoni during the past week. Most are being held in Bori Military Camp. There are unconfirmed reports of Ogoni being killed. Thousands of Ogoni have left their villages in fear of the military.
Jun 14, 1994 At least 40 Ogoni villagers have been killed in the past two weeks by military personnel. Soldiers have attacked over 20 villages in what appears to be a systematic campaign of terror. There are also widespread reports of raping of women and girls.
Jun 23, 1994 Moshood Abiola was arrested on charges of sedition.
Aug 1994 The crisis facing Nigeria after the failed elections was the worst since the Ibo attempted to secede in the Biafra war. Over 100 have been killed in pro-democracy protests. There were some reports of clashes between Yoruba youth and Ibo shopkeepers as the Yoruba attempted to force the Ibo to comply with anti-government strikes. Abiola's trial was put on hold, and he was reportedly suffering from ill-health. Ogoniland is declared a "military zone."
Mar 1995 Ogoniland has been effectively shut off from outsiders since 1993. Shell dismisses Ogoni allegations of destruction of their lands as inaccurate and blames the region's problems on communal conflict. Other groups in the region harbor many of the same complaints the Ogoni have against Shell. Approximately 2000 Ogoni have been killed in two years of protest. The Ogoni and Andoni sign a peace agreement, but details are scarce. Up to 1000 families in Rivers state have been displaced because of the fighting.
Jul 1995 Saro-Wiwa is on trial by military tribunal for the murder of four pro-government Ogoni. More than 50 Ogoni have been executed without trial in the wake of these murders in May 1994.
Sep 1995 Sani Abacha dispatched an emissary to Europe for meetings with Washington officials to discuss the return to democracy in Nigeria. Abacha proposed a transition period of four years and the U.S. representatives responded that 18 months should be enough.
Oct 1, 1995 In a speech, Sani Abacha pledged to institute a program under which the country's top six political positions would be rotated among six regions in an effort to minimize ethnic tensions. He also commuted the death sentences of 14 people convicted of plotting a coup against him. Others given life imprisonment sentences had their sentences reduced to fifteen years' imprisonment. The human rights group Campaign for Democracy's leader Beko Ransome-Kuti and former president Obasanjo were among those whose sentences were reduced to 15 years
Oct 12, 1995 Sani Abacha commissioned several projects in Rivers State, including a gas turbine in Ogoniland. On State Radio, he said that urgent measures were being taken by the federal government to address ecological areas in Ogoniland and other oil producing areas. However, he also stated that his government would not tolerate any form of communal conflict in the oil producing areas.
Oct 30 - 31, 1995 A special tribunal in Port Harcourt convicted and sentenced to death Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni. There was much international outrage at the sentencing and NGOs and some governments tried to convince Abacha to commute the sentences.
Nov 1, 1995 Rivers' State spokesman Fidelis Agbiki said the regional government wanted Shell to come back and said reconciliation moves had begun to try to end the hostilities by local activists. Shell again stated it had no plans to return to Ogoniland any time soon.
Nov 1995 Ogoniland is currently a zone of military occupation. Extrajudicial executions, especially around Port Harcourt, have been common place since Sani Abacha took power in 1993. Troops reportedly also randomly shoot men, women and children, flog youths and rape Ogoni women as well as loot villages.
Nov 2, 1995 Nigeria's military government launched a crackdown on Ogoni leaders. Thousands of soldiers were sent into villages throughout the Niger delta after the Ogoni 9 were sentenced to death. Members of Ken Saro-Wiwa's family have been exiled from their homes in Port Harcourt and others have gone into hiding after the government brought an extra 5000 soldiers into the area. MOSOP members reported Saro-Wiwa's wife and 18 month old baby were seized and sent to a remote village 50 miles from Port Harcourt. There were continued reports of arrests, torture and violence against the population.
Nov 10, 1995 Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni were executed by hanging. The British Commonwealth voted to suspend Nigeria and threatened it with expulsion. The European Community suspended its development aid, including $778 million allotted for 1991-95 which had not yet been disbursed. Other government pulled out their diplomats and imposed further restrictions on arms sales in protest following the executions, but no government imposed an oil boycott on Nigeria.
Nov 11, 1995 Since coming to power in November 1993, Sani Abacha has jailed Moshood Abiola, winner of the 1995 multiparty elections, Beko Ransome-Kuti, leader of the pro-democracy movement, General Olusengun Obasanjo, the only military leader in Nigeria's history to freely give up power to a civilian government. The three are from the Yoruba ethnic group. He has also jailed a powerful northern politician General Sehu Musa Yar'Adva and senior members of the military. After 25 years of extracting oil worth over $200 billion, Nigerians enjoy the same per capita income of $300 that they earned in pre-oil days. During the regime of Ibrahim Babangida, 1985-1993, $12 billion in oil revenues could not be accounted for.
Nov 12, 1995 Shell denied it had been guilty of damaging Ogoniland. Shell said it recognized that there were environmental problems, but pointed to a World Bank study which suggested that although oil activities had contributed to environmental damage in the Niger Delta, deforestation, erosion and poor farming practices also contributed to the damage.
Nov 15, 1995 Shell announced that it planned to remain in Nigeria and that it would continue with its plans to take a 24% stake in a natural gas project on Bonny Island in Ogoniland.
Nov 17, 1995 NADECO (National Democratic Coalition, a pro-democracy umbrella group) stated that the international community's isolation of Nigeria was not enough to bring real change to the military-ruled country.
Jan 5, 1996 Policy and military troops broke up a rally in Bori organized by MOSOP. A government official said Bori was calm after the rally and that no arrests had been made. Ogoni mark 4 January as a day of solidarity with other minority peoples of the world.
Jan 25, 1996 The 15 member European Union has accepted Nigeria's three-year transition to democracy plan in a sudden change of policy from its former demand that the period be shortened.
Feb 24, 1996 According to an independent record of Shells spills from 1982-1992, 1,626,000 gallons of oil were spilt from its operations in Nigeria in 27 separate incidents.
Mar 4, 1996 The United States returned its ambassador to Nigeria. It had recalled Walter Carrington to protest the execution of nine Ogoni on 10 November 1995. Administration officials said Carrington was taking specific messages to Sani Abacha's military government and that the U.S. remains concerned about continuing violence, human rights abuses and considers the transition to democracy too drawn out.
Apr 10, 1996 A United Nations mission was in Nigeria investigating the execution of nine Ogoni activists and to ask authorities about allegations from Ogoni of intimidation and arrests. The United Nations Refugee Agency recently said that about 1000 Ogoni had fled to Benin since the November 1995 executions.
May 12, 1996 A former Shell Environmental Studies head, Bopp van Dessel, said Shell ignored many warning from its own environmental department that production in Nigeria was causing widespread pollution. van Dessel resigned from Shell in late 1994. Last week, Shell and the Nigerian National Petrol Corporation offered an environmental clean-up in Ogoniland if the Ogoni community would agree to renewed operations in the area. MOSOP criticized the offer as insincere and said there was a military build-up going on in the region.
Jun 12, 1996 The Nigerian government reformed two decrees, including the one under which nine Ogoni were executed in November 1995. Effective immediately, no military person would sit on special disturbances tribunals such as the one that convicted the Ogoni nine. Further, verdicts from these tribunals would from now on be open to appeal. The other decree to be amended deals with detention without trial. The amendment provides hope that some of the dozens of detainees under the decree will be released through the courts which are now allowed to hear their suits against the detention.
Aug 1996 Sani Abacha has reportedly dismissed all 30 State Administrators in a purge of regional bureaucrats, and replaced them with middle-ranking military officers. Eighty people have been killed in ethnic clashes between the Karimjo and Fulani in eastern Nigeria. More than 400 Karimjo houses have been razed and over 6000 people have fled their homes in the violence which was reportedly started by an attempted rape of a Karimjo woman by a Fulani man.
Sep 1996 The leader of the Muslim Brothers, a group of young Islamic fanatics from the minority Shiite sect in Nigeria, Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, was arrested for questioning about his organization's activities.
Nov 1996 Amnesty International released a report on Nigeria stating that little has changed for the Ogoni since the execution of the Ogoni nine in November 1995. It stated, "the government continues to violate the human rights of its critics, including opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists, and members of the Ogoni ethnic group." Shell reports that its spending on community assistance in the Delta region has risen sharply in the past two years. Thirty million dollars have been spent this year while $90 million has been spent on the environment. Oil production lost to sabotage and other community disturbances has been sharply reduced since its peak in 1994.
Nov 11, 1996 The Nigerian security forces made good their promise not to allow any commemorations of the 1995 hangings of the Ogoni nine. It prevented students from commemorating the day in Ibadan and Lagos and prohibited human rights groups from holding meetings to discuss Nigeria's human rights situation. Three officials from the AI office in Nigeria were arrested. MOSOP claimed it held candlelight vigils to commemorate all those killed in the past few years, but security forces denied that the vigils took place.
Jan 6, 1997 The World Council of Churches has accused the Nigerian military government of widespread oppression in Ogoniland. It also berated Shell for causing environmental damage in the region. The report, "Ogoni: The Struggle Continues," was the result of a visit last year to Nigeria by the Council. It reports continued intimidation, rape, arrests, torture, killings and looting by soldiers. The Council called for the restoration of democracy, the release of 19 Ogoni still in detention for the murder of four Ogoni chiefs in 1994, and the release of Ken Saro-Wiwa's body for proper burial. The Ogoni maintain the government continues to engage in a systematic campaign to deprive them of their land and its wealth.
Feb 1997 The Nigerian government said it has uncovered fresh plans by pro-democracy groups to destabilize the country using university students. The government alleges the plot to disrupt local governmental elections slated for March involves the National Liberation Council of Nigeria (NALICON), led by exiled writer Wole Soyinka, MOSOP, NADECO and the United Democratic Association (UDA).
Apr 1997 Ethnic violence has erupted in Warri in southwestern Nigeria. The Urhobo (a subgroup of the Edo ethnic group), Itsekiri (a sub-group of the Yoruba), and Ijaw (an ethnic group unrelated to any other) have been fighting since March when a local government headquarters was moved from the Ijaw town of Ogbe-ijoh to the Itsekiri area of Ogidigben. More than 100 have been killed and hundreds injured. Warri is the headquarters of a number of oil companies, and Shell has pulled out some of its staff, cut production by 20%, and delayed exports. The distribution of wealth from the oil revenues appears to flow unevenly among the three groups. The Urhobos and Ijaws complain that oil royalties are paid to the Olu of Warri, the traditional ruler of the Itsekiris. Ijaws are a relatively large ethnic group (>5 million) in Nigeria, but they are spread out over six states and are not the majority in any of them. Over the past couple of years while the Ogoni in the region protested, the Ijaws were quietly arming themselves. Similar protests have taken place all over Nigeria since the restructuring of local councils took place in March.
May 7, 1997 A bomb exploded on an army bus in Lagos wounding several people. A second blast followed. It was the fifth bomb attack in Lagos targeting the military since December 1996. Police have blamed the blasts on NADECO, the pro-democracy movement of Nigeria. NADECO denies involvement.
Jun 17, 1997 Washington officials launched informal discussions about reviewing U.S. policy on Nigeria. Human rights and environmental groups have been pressuring the U.S. government to take stronger action against the Abacha regime because current sanctions have had no noticeable effect on the Nigerian government. Almost half of Nigeria's oil exports are shipped to the United States and provides Nigeria with 90% of its export earnings.
Jul 10, 1997 Shell Oil in Nigeria is facing new threats from villagers in the southeast who say they may attack its installations in the Burutu area. The dispute escalated when Shell announced it would appeal a ruling that it should pay compensation to villagers for an oil spill that occurred 15 years ago. Fighting in the Warri area continued between Itsekiri and Ijaw peoples. They are fighting for control of part of Warri in order to get access to jobs and funds from the oil companies operating in the Delta. There is apparently an abundance of weapons in the Delta region. Shell has said it has lost $35 million in oil production because of community disputes in Warri region this year. Shell has recently been accused of cooperating with the government in the arrest of Ogoni activist Matthew Eregbene who was taken from his home earlier this week. Shell has also announced it will appeal against a court order of 27 June 1997 that it should pay compensation to villagers for an oil spill in 1982. Shell maintains it cleaned up the spill after it happened. Shell is planning to return to Ogoniland by 2000, and claim to be in talks with local representatives, including MOSOP. MOSOP, however, denied there had been any contacts. Ogoniland is still controlled by a military task force and residents speak of continuous harassment.
Jul 28, 1997 About thirty people were arrested and six hospitalized following clashes 19 July between soldiers and civilians in Biu, Borno State. Ethnic clashes have been rife in the Niger Delta since March. Hundreds of deaths have resulted from the fighting.
Aug 11, 1997 Twenty Ogoni political prisoners began a hunger strike to protest against the conditions of their imprisonment. The military government has gone to extremes to keep their cases out of court for fear a trial would bring unwanted attention to the government. The prisoners allege torture, denial of medical care, starvation, and poor sanitary conditions are part of their punishment. All are reportedly in poor health. (One later died in custody).
Oct 18, 1997 Five journalists were arrested in Ogbia town, Bayelsa State while covering a rally organized by youths of the district to protest against the activities of Shell and the government in the Niger Delta. The reporters were subjected to an intensive interrogation and released hours later with a stern warning not to publish any stories on the incident.
Nov 1997 Professor Akinjide Oshuntokun was arrested as he boarded a plane to Germany. He was to give a public lecture on Nigeria's environmental crisis. The lecture was sponsored by the German NGO, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The Foundation was later ordered to leave Nigeria.
Nov 10, 1997 Tight security was imposed in the Niger Delta on the second anniversary of the execution of the Ogoni Nine. Demonstrations had been planned by the opposition, but were banned. There have been few open political gatherings or demonstrations in the southeast over the past two years despite increasing mobilization of the communities there.
Jan 4, 1998 Government security forces raided several Ogoni villages and detained about 50 people. People in the region had been demonstrating against the ruling military dictatorship and the presence of Shell Oil. The Nigerian government has denied reports of torture and arrests.
Feb 1998 The U.S. State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997 reported pervasive human rights abuses in Nigeria. There were numerous reports of torture and other abuses, including extrajudicial execution and arbitrary detention, by the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force in Ogoniland. An unknown number of Ogoni have fled to neighboring or Western states in search of asylum. Clashes continued between rival ethnic groups in Delta, Rivers, Benue, Cross-River, bayelsa, Osun, Kaduna, Plateau, and Taraba states. The on-going government review of boundaries for state and local government areas sparked several communal clashes, most notably between the Ife and Modakeke in Osun State and the Ijaw and Itsekiri in Delta state. These clashes led to over 100 deaths in each case. In general, incidents of ethnic conflict and confrontation with government forces increased significantly during 1997. The Ogoni maintained that the government continued its systematic campaign to deprive the group of its land and wealth. Other ethnic groups in the oil producing states have echoed the Ogoni claims of environmental damage and government indifference.
Feb 5, 1998 Coastal communities in the southeast are pressing for compensation for damage done by a huge oil spill 12 January 1998. Forty-thousand barrels of crude leaked from the Mobil operational area five miles off the shore of the Akwa-Ibom state. The slick spread west to four other states: Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Lagos. About three hundred people were arrested after the spill when youths barricaded all routes to Mobil's operational base demanding an immediate clean-up and improved employment opportunities for local people.
Mar 23, 1998 Bauleresi Mitee, brother of the exiled MOSOP leader Ledum Mitee, was arrested. Another brother, Batom Mitee, was arrested 3 January 1998 and is still imprisoned without charge or trial. He has reportedly been subjected to torture while in prison.
May 21, 1998 A broad coalition of churches, human rights groups and environmentalists have called on President Clinton to reject further contacts with the Nigerian military regime. They advocate imposing unilateral oil sanctions immediately.
Jun 8, 1998 Military leader Sani Abacha died of a heart attack. Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar became the new head of state.
Jun 15, 1998 The German NGO Friedrich Ebert Foundation has been told to leave by the Nigerian government. The NGO claimed it was ordered out of the country for sponsoring pro-democracy and human rights activities in Nigeria. Prof. Oshuntokun who was reportedly detained for his association with the group in November 1997 remained in prison without charge or trial.
Jun 16, 1998 Gen. Abubakar released nine prominent political prisoners including former president Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and NADECO chief Otumba Olabiyi Durojayi.
Sep 9, 1998 The government sent a team of peace-makers to the troubled areas of the Niger Delta, including Nembe. (Africa News Service, Inc.)
Sep 10, 1998 The Africa Fund today welcomed the release of twenty Ogoni environmental activists who had been imprisoned for over four years. "The release of the Ogoni 20 after years of torture and brutal mistreatment is long overdue and we welcome it," said Executive Director Jennifer Davis. "The releases are a significant victory for MOSOP, which led the campaign for the release of the 20, and for the Nigerian democracy movement as a whole. It shows that pressure works." (Africa News Service)
Sep 21, 1998 The release from prison of the Ogoni 20, detained since 1994 after the murder of four prominent Ogoni chiefs, appeared to have enlivened the spirit of the Ogoni. Over 10,000 protesters poured out in Gokana Local Government Area of Ogoni to sing a dirge for Shell. They also sought the reestablishment of the kingdom of Ogoni from the Federal Government. Elderly men, supported by youths carrying a coffin-like god of Ogoni with the inscription The Ark of Ogoni Nation led the march to Shell's oilfield in Bomu. (Africa News Service, Inc)
Oct 2, 1998 The U.S.-based Chevron oil company has admitted limited involvement in an incident in Nigeria last May that led to the killing of two community activists in the oil-rich Niger River Delta region. A spokesman for Chevron, speaking from Nigeria in an interview with Pacifica Radio, acknowledged that the corporation had authorized Nigerian troops and hired armed security forces to fly by helicopter to Chevron's offshore oil field where the demonstrators had taken over a drilling platform. (Africa News Service)
Oct 7, 1998 Armed youths in Nigeria's oil producing region took control of more than ten oil installations, stopping one-fifth of the country's oil production. On the Eastern side of the Niger Delta large groups of armed youths took control of five more oil flow stations in a similar manner. Shell evacuated all its staff from the installations - and the oil company Agip also suffered from community violence. As a result, 400,000 barrels of oil a day in production was lost. According to Shell spokesman Bisi Ojedura, the trouble began when community activists in the western section of the oil-rich Niger Delta issued a threat to Shell to shut down five of its oil installations in the area at the start of the week. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Oct 22, 1998 The Southern Minorities Front of Nigeria (SoMiFoN) was deeply saddened by the explosion on Sunday, October 18 of a gasoline pipeline in Jesse in the Delta State of Nigeria. Its spokesman stated, "we of SoMiFoN share in the grief of the families of the hundreds of people who lost their lives or are scarred for life in this avoidable tragedy which we view as the culmination of the callous manner of operation of multinational oil corporations and the government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation." (Africa News Service, Inc.)
Oct 23, 1998 Hundreds of people were killed along the Nigerian coast, tens of thousands were also forced from their homes, and oil production - crucial to the country's economy B was cut by a quarter by an escalation of unrest that could develop into civil war. The conflict began in the previous month between impoverished ethnic groups angered by the exploitation of oil in their areas. Last week drilling rigs and oil terminals operated by Shell and Chevron were seized. (Africa News Service, Inc)
Nov 10, 1998 The third anniversary of the execution by hanging of nine Ogoni activists, including Ken Saro Wiwa, was marked in Ogoniland. The killings followed protests by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), against oil pollution on their ancestral land by Shell. The 1995 executions sparked international protests and led to the imposition of sanctions against Africa's most populous nation. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Nov 19, 1998 The Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar announced on 18 November, that the controversial Decree No. 2 and other draconian decrees were no longer desirable in Nigeria and would be expunged from the statutes. (Africa News Service Inc)
Dec 10, 1998 As the international community was about to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of human rights, Nigerians were anxiously awaiting the findings of a United Nations special reporter on the observance of the universal principles in their country. In the last five years, Nigeria was punished for its human rights record through economic sanctions and international isolation. (Africa News Service, Inc)
Jan 6, 1999 A new book on the late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, who ruled Nigeria with an iron hand between 1993 and 1998, details extensive state-sanctioned violence and repression. Nigeria Human Rights Report, produced by the Lagos-based Constitutional Rights Project (CRP) with the assistance of the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy came just seven months after Abacha's death of a heart attack in the capital city of Abuja. It noted that as of the end of September 1998, hundreds of political detainees incarcerated by the regime of the late dictator had been released. They include former head of state Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as union leaders, 20 Ogoni minority leaders and journalists jailed on trumped-up charges of conspiracy in a coup plot. "This development was a welcome change from the years of terror and brutality that the rule of Gen. Abacha represented," the report said, when "extra-judicial killings, torture, assassinations, imprisonment and general harassment of critics and opponents was commonplace." (Inter Press Service)
Jan 11, 1999 The occupation of Shell's London offices by environmental activists, protesting the Anglo-Dutch petroleum giant's alleged disregard of human rights in Nigeria, again brought into the limelight the role of transnational corporations in fostering by human rights worldwide.Protests against Shell have become almost ritual actions -- and among the most high-profile worldwide -- ever since the Nigerian government executed environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others in 1995 after they led a movement against Shell's oil exploration activities in Nigeria's Ogoni region.(Inter Press Service )
Jan 26, 1999 Human rights and environmental groups worldwide demanded that foreign oil companies suspend their operations in Nigeria as reports of human rights abuses against protesters continued to pour out of the oil-rich nation. More than 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Sierra Club and Human Rights Watch, urged transnational corporations like Shell, Chevron, and Mobil to suspend their operations until the military withdraws from the oil-producing Delta region in southeastern Nigeria. (Inter Press Service)
Feb 16, 1999 U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, said the role played by U.S. oil giants in the many incidents of human rights abuses in Nigeria should be the subject of a Congressional investigation. "Such an investigation launched would send a powerful signal...that our oil companies are not buying oil at the price of human lives, human rights and democracy,"said Kucinich. (Inter Press Service)
Apr 15, 1999 A $170 million development plan was given the green light following approval by a panel appointed by Nigerian head of state Gen. Abubakar. Niger Delta leaders like Edwin Clark, former Information Minister, welcomed the plan to develop the region, which produces more than 80 percent of Nigeria's oil. (Inter Press Service)
Apr 27, 1999 Exiled National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) Chief Anthony Enahoro demanded a full and unfettered public inquiry into rights abuses in the country. According to Enahoro, such an inquiry should include the killings of Mrs. Kudirat Abiola, Chief Alfred Rewane, Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine as well as the massacre of university students and demonstrating workers. (Africa News Service)
May 24, 1999 The family of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in 1995 by order of the Nigerian government, is seeking millions of pounds in damages from Shell in a US lawsuit alleging that human rights violations perpetrated by the Abacha government were partly the responsibility of the oil company. (Africa New Service, Inc)
May 27, 1999 Rights groups demanded of incoming Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo a repeal repressive military decrees, the release of the bodies of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni activists hanged in 1995, and the initiation of a transparent process to draft a new constitution. (Africa News Service, Inc.)
May 28, 1999 South African President Nelson Mandela was among the heads of state scheduled to attend Nigerian President General Olusegun Obasanjo's inauguration. (Africa News Service, Inc.)
Jun 11, 1999 Burnt out buildings dotted the center of Nigeria's southern oil town of Warri. One week of bitter fighting involving its three main ethnic groups left at least 20 people dead, scores of buildings in ruins and thousands of residents displaced. Over 200 people have died in the Niger Delta region - which includes Warri - since clashes began a day after President Olusegun Obasanjo took office on 29 May. Fighting in the surrounding creeks between ethnic Ijaws and Itsekiris sucked in the Urhobos on the side of the Ijaws as the violence spread to Warri. Unrest in the Delta severely disrupted oil exports over the past year. (Africa News Service, Inc.)
Jun 15, 1999 Nigeria's new president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has formed a panel to probe human rights abuses committed during 15 years of military rule. Obasanjo, who was sworn-in May 29th as Nigeria's first elected president in 15 years said the panel would strive to heal the wounds of the past and reconcile a divided nation. (Inter Press Service)
Nov 24, 2004 Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) supporters blocked the main gate at Royal Dutch Shell. Police fired tear gas at protesters, arresting three. (Associated Press, 11/24/2004, "Nigerian police fire tear gas at demonstrators outside Shell offices")
Nov 10, 2005 Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) supporters demonstrated to commemorate the execution of a rights activist and to protest against Shell Oil and the Federal Government. (Agence France Presse-English, 11/10/2005, "Ten years on, Nigeria's Ogoni minority mark activist's death")


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Information current as of July 16, 2010