Even as the jury was sitting in the Bowoto v Chevron trial – Chevron Nigeria was attacking villagers in Aruntan-Ugborodo in Itsekiriland.
Some time last week (Thursday 20th, November 2008) community people comprising about 15-20 women, 8 children and 25 youths embarked on a peaceful protest to CNL Tank Farm – a stone’s throw from our homes. We were demanding “common job” slot for our youths, awarding of contract to deserving indigents and for the protection of our shore lines from coastal erosion that is encroaching into our homes.
We dressed in white singlet (T-shirts) and carried placards. No guns, No machete and no form of weapons of mass destructions were on us. We were shocked to see the JTF officers guarding the CNL Tank farm releasing gunshot sporadically on us in the boat and into the community.
We took cover for our dear lives. Several of our youths had gunshot wounds and 2 others in their home received serious wounds from the stray shots. (They are currently being treated in Warri by community effort).
The decision to acquit Chevron of any responsibility in the deaths and injuries to people in Nigeria and destruction of their lands is callous and selfish. The decision tells me the only interest of the jury and the communities they represent is to get oil by any means necessary which includes murder. Meanwhile Obama has appointed another corporate defender against indigenous peoples, Chevron director, Marine Gen. James Jones, to his cabinet following in the footsteps of another famous Chevron direction and member of Bush’s government Ms Condoleezza Rice.
But what of a Chevron director high up in the West Wing? Obama’s attacks on John McCain during the campaign included a daily refrain about the massive profits of ExxonMobil, as if that was the only oil company out there. Chevron, too, has posted mammoth profits. Chevron was also a defendant in a federal court case in San Francisco related to the murder, 10 years ago, of two unarmed, peaceful activists in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. On May 28, 1998, three Chevron helicopters ferried Nigerian military and police to the remote section of the Delta known as Ilajeland, where protesters had occupied a Chevron offshore drilling platform to protest Chevron’s role in the destruction of the local environment. The troops opened fired on the protesters. Two were killed, others were injured. (Rice was in charge of the Chevron board’s public policy committee when it fought off shareholder resolutions demanding that Chevron improve its human rights and environmental record in Nigeria.)
At least now we understand better the meaning of the word “Change” in Obamaspeak!