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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03LAGOS1937
2003-09-16 12:03:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Lagos
Cable title:  

SOUTHERN SNAPSHOTS - WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 8, 2003

Tags:  PREL PGOV KDEM EPET SENV NI 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 001937 

SIPDIS


LONDON FOR GURNEY, PARIS FOR NEARY


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/10/2008
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM EPET SENV NI
SUBJECT: SOUTHERN SNAPSHOTS - WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 8, 2003

REF: LAGOS 1862 AND PREVIOUS


Classified By: CONSUL GENERAL ROBYN HINSON-JONES FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AN


D (D).


Anambra: Court proceedings begin on Igwe killings




1. (U) Almost exactly one year after the prominent husband
and wife team of lawyers, Barnabas Chidi and Amaka Blessing
Igwe, was hacked to death in the streets of Onitsha, a bail
hearing was held in the Onitsha High Court for one of the
prime suspects in the case. In an unusual move to get action
on the case, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) successfully
petitioned the Anambra State Attorney General and Justice
Commissioner to allow the NBA to prosecute the case. Prince
Ken Emeakayi, former Commissioner of Works in the
administration of defeated Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, is
the prime suspect in the case and has been detained, along
with other suspects, for several weeks. While waiting for
action in the case, the press and other observers have
suggested a connection between the Igwe murder and the murder
of former Attorney General and Minister for Justice Bola Ige.
There has also been speculation that the murders were
politically motivated since the prime suspects in both cases
are government officials. The judge assigned the case,
Justice Peter Umeadi, will rule on the application for bail
this week.




2. (C) Comment. This past weekend, another husband and wife
lawyer team was shot and killed in front of their young
children in Kaduna. NBA President Wole Olanipekin blamed the
federal government for the rising number of "mighty men
including governors and ministers" who have been brutally
attacked or killed in recent months. Lawyers in Lagos have
told journalists that their profession is being
"systematically targeted" by other members of the Nigerian
government structure who "feel threatened by the (lawyers')
presence and work." Nelson Otaji, a prominent Lagos lawyer,
said " It is now very dangerous to be a lawyer in this
country....When some people lose a case in court, they go
after the opposing counsel." It is certain that Nigerians
have little trust in the efficacy or integrity of their
judicial system. It is difficult to tell, however, whether
the recent violence and threats of violence against lawyers
and judges is in any way politically motivated or is merely
an expression of the frustration that some litigants feel
with the system of justice in Nigeria. End comment.


Anambra: Deputy Governor is impeached




3. (U) Despite an Abuja High Court restraining order
enjoining it from proceeding with the impeachment of Deputy
Governor Okey Udeh, the Anambra State House of Assembly has
impeached Udeh and removed him from office. The Assembly
acted on the report of an Impeachment Panel it had set up to
investigate allegations of misconduct leveled against Udeh.
Udeh was accused of being part of the July 10 plot to
forcibly remove Governor Chris Ngige from office and then
wrongfully proclaiming himself Governor. Udeh had been
successful in securing the court injunction stopping the
Impeachment Panel from functioning. Unfortunately for him,
the Panel ignored the court, found Udeh guilty on all charges
and handed him over to the Assembly for impeachment anyway.




4. (C) Comment. Despite this good news for Ngige -- getting
the Deputy Governor out of the way helps support Ngige's
claim to be the legitimate principal officer of the State
--it is still too early to predict how the legal web that has
been spun around the Ngige affair will be untangled,
especially with the new snarls created by the Assembly's
action. The Abuja High Court that issued the restraining
order is scheduled to take up the matter again in the next
week to consider the constitutionality of the "letter of
resignation" Ngige is supposed to have signed under pressure
from his political "godfather", Chris Uba. Observers inside
and outside the judicial system expect the High Court to deal
sternly with the Anambra House of Assembly that flaunted its
order. End comment.


Rivers: Another pipeline explosion in Ogoniland




5. (U) The residents of Tia, a small farming and fishing
community, were devastated recently when an oil pipeline
jointly owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
(NNPC) and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria,
Ltd. (Shell) exploded burning acres of fertile land and
polluting nearby creeks. The resulting spill of crude oil
has displaced over 100 Tia families. Farmers in the area
lost crops and near-term use of arable land; fishermen lost
catches; and residents lost access to potable water because
ground water in the area is now polluted with crude oil.




6. (C) Ledum Mitee, President of the Movement for the
Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), told Pol/Econ Officer
that neighboring communities mobilized to help and were able
to relocate some families. He complained that, based on
previous incidents like this, the people of Tia could expect
little in compensation from either the GON or Shell.
According to Mitee, the GON relies on the Land Use Act of
1978 that gives the government all rights of title to the
hereditary Ogoni lands. Thus, in the event of oil or gas
damage to the land, the only compensation to which farmers
are entitled is an amount equal to the value of lost crops --
historically a very small amount that does not fully
compensate the farmer. Mitee said that while no one was
injured in this latest incident, the financial and
environmental losses are still being evaluated.




7. (C) Comment: Although Shell no longer drills in the area,
it continues to transport crude oil through Ogoniland. Its
decades old pipeline system is prone to leaks. Mitee has
denied reports that the Ogoni prevented Shell workers from
repairing the leak until Shell is willing to discuss
compensation for the residents of Tia. Although the recently
ended strike by Shell workers has further delayed repairs of
the pipeline, this is but another incident to add to the long
list of grievances about environmental damage, lack of
disaster preparedness, minimal compensation for losses, etc.
that the Ogonis have against Shell and the GON.
HINSON-JONES