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PROJECT TOPIC: UNITED STATES ALIEN TORTS CLAIMS ACT (ATCA), OIL CORPORATIONS AND MILITARIZED COMMERCE IN NIGERIA’S NIGER DELTA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study The globalization of law has engendered the development of international norms and institutions for the protection of human rights in our century than at any previous point in human civilization. The outcome is an international recognition that human rights ought to be honoured as a basis for human development, democracy, and good governance. Subsequently, the United Nations Organization (U.N.O), the International Court of Justice (I.C.J), the International Criminal Court (I.C.C), the African Union, is all committed to the enthronement of human rights. Paradoxically, the attainment of human rights in the less developed countries, particularly in resource-rich African countries seems to be a contemporary utopia. This is borne out of the fact that the continuous outbursts of conflicts are immense and monumental, its impacts have led to the loss of about $300b within the last three decades, and it is unabated (Volman, 2003). This study takes interest in militarized commerce as a form of human rights infringement and in doing so it seeks to focus on the Niger Delta. For instance, the killing of 80 unarmed villagers over the protestation of oil spillages in Umuechem village in Rivers State by the Nigerian security forces in 1990 is well documented (HRW, 1999:112). Also, in response to a nonviolent campaign in opposition to the destruction of their environment by oil companies, the Nigerian security forces attacked and destroyed several Ogoni villages and executed acts of extrajudicial killings of human rights activists Ken Saro Wiwa and other Ogonis in 1995 (Carew, 2002). Similarly, following a protest against SPDC over a badly malfunctioning flare in Iko, Akwa Ibom State led to the burning of forty houses 2 by the Mobile police (ERA, 1998). On the 19th of April 1999, a team of naval and army personnel attached to the Nigerian Agip company (Brass terminal) killed 8 persons who had shut down oil production facilities. Also killed were seventeen youths of the Ikebiri and Olugbobiri community in 2001 by the Agip security personnel. Also, following the Kaiama Declaration in 1998, soldiers were deployed to Kaiama. In the events that followed several persons were killed, injured, and maimed and properties (including buildings) were destroyed and looted. Federal troops also invaded Odi town of Bayelsa State in November 1999 and completely destroyed it as a fall out of the killing of eight police officers at Odi by some of the youths (This Day, 1999; Bayelsa Voice, 1999). In the face of government denial that any abuses took place and failure to undertake any criminal or other investigation with a view to bringing those responsible to account, private individuals have brought civil suits against the government. In February 2000, an application to enforce fundamental rights was lodged in the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, on behalf of the Odi community, seeking ₦1 billion (the U.S.$7.7 million) damages and other relief. The government failed to file any defense to the application or to appear in court to respond to the various applications made on behalf of the plaintiffs as the case has proceeded.


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