Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s president, offered an amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta on Friday as part of his strategy for ending attacks on Africa’s biggest oil industry. The offer follows the launch of a major military offensive in mid-May that has increased the pressure on armed groups.
Several faction leaders requested a meeting with the president after he announced the proposal on June 25, raising hopes that a five-week campaign of retaliatory attacks on pipelines may soon end. The attacks on facilities belonging to Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell have underscored the majors’ vulnerability to sabotage carried out deep in the delta’s swamps.
At the same time, a court case brought against Royal Dutch Shell in the US has raised the prospect that oil companies could face a new risk: lawsuits brought by communities who accuse them of involvement in human rights abuses.
Shell agreed to pay $15m in a settlement with relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni activists after they filed a suit in New York arguing that the company was complicit in their executions. Shell has always argued that the case lacked merit and said it accepted no liability for the deaths of the nine Ogoni leaders, who were hanged by Nigeria’s then military government in 1995.
Click on the interactive map below to navigate the key conflict areas in the labyrinthine delta region, and select the video players to see reports from Matthew Green, the FT’s West Africa correspondent, as he assesses the local response to Shell in Bodo City, Ogoniland, and travels to Camp Five, the site of a strategic militant camp captured by the Nigerian army.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009