|"With the death of General Abacha we can only hope that a
new government will listen to the voice of the Nigeria's citizens, rather than to large
transnational oil companies. A popularly elected government, such as the one Abacha
preempted, needs to be instated; and oil companies, especially Royal Dutch/Shell, which
have profitted handsomly from close ties to the military, must not interfere with the
-- Shannon Wright, Oil Campaign Director.
SAN FRANCISCO -- June 8 -- Human Rights and Environmental activists are
showing few signs of grief today with the news of General Sani Abacha's death. The
Nigerian dictator, who came to power in a 1993 coup, faced world-wide condemnation for his
hard-line regime, and for his role in the execution of nine environmental activists in
In one of the most oppressive acts the world has seen in recent memory - under Abacha in
1995 - Ogoni leader Ken Saro Wiwa, a human rights activist, poet, playwright and Goldman
Environmental Prize Winner, and eight fellow activists were executed for demanding that
the Ogoni people's human and environmental rights be respected by the oil industry and the
government. That year, the multinational Oil giants of Shell, Mobile, Chevron and Texaco
contributed 80% of Nigeria's annual revenue.
Due to heavy oil and gas exploration in the years before 1995, Nigeria's beleaguered
coastal wetlands are quickly being destroyed. According to a 1995 UN conference on
Environmental and Development the Niger River's mouth is the most endangered river delta
in the world. The Niger Delta is home to coastal rainforest and mangrove habitats.
Rainforest Action Network works to protect the Earth's rainforests and support the
rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent