20 Years After Activist Hangs, Oil Pollution Still Wrecks Nigeria. Twenty years after a Nigerian military regime hanged activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, his Niger Delta homeland remains blighted by oil pollution.
Thousands of lives have been wrecked, according to Amnesty International: oil slicks killed the fish, earth crusted with crude grows stunted crops, lungs are polluted from oil flaring.
Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime hanged Saro-Wiwa and seven other Ogoni leaders on trumped-up murder charges. “Judicial murder,” charged then-British Premier John Major. 20 Years After Activist Hangs, Oil Pollution Still Wrecks Nigeria
The executions came two years after protesters forced Shell out of Ogoniland, although its pipelines still carry oil.
“It is heartbreakingly tragic,” said Amnesty International’s Nigeria director M.K. Ibrahim. “The oil spills have not stopped, and Shell has still not cleaned up this huge environmental degradation.”
Shell says it is committed to cleaning up the pollution. Nigeria has been home to several indigenous pre-colonial states and kingdoms since the second millennium BC. The modern state originated with British colonialization in the 19th century, taking its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914 by Lord Frederick Lugard. The British set up administrative and legal structures while practicing indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms. Nigeria became a formally independent federation on October 1, 1960. It experienced a civil war from 1967 to 1970, followed by a succession of democratically-elected civilian governments and military dictatorships, until achieving a stable democracy in 1999; the 2015 presidential election was the first time an incumbent president had lost re-election