A petroleum explosion in Atiwor village (a few kilometres from Akpovome) on 17 October 1998 and subsequent arrests and attacks against those suspected to have caused the explosion [NGA32850.E]

According to Keesing's Record of World Events,

At least 500 people were reported killed and a further 1,000 wounded when a leaking petrol pipeline explored near the city of Warri in south-western Nigeria on Oct. 17. Many of the dead and wounded were apparently collecting the leaking petrol in order to sell it on the black market. Spokesmen from the state-owned company responsible for the pipeline claimed that the leak had been caused by vandals attempting to disrupt oil production in the Niger Delta.

Nigerian state radio reported on Oct. 21 that the death toll from the explosion had increased to more than 700 and could eventually reach in excess of 1,000. The government also reportedly announced that it was willing to pay for the medical expenses of those injured in the accident, but that it would not pay compensation since the leak had been caused by sabotage. Nigerian opposition radio criticised the decision on Oct.22, claiming that no investigation into the tragedy had been carried out. It also claimed that the real death toll in the accident was 1,200 (Oct. 1998, 42542).

This information is corroborated by several sources (Post Express Wired 5 Nov. 1998; ibid., 4 Nov. 1998; Environmental Rights Action (ERA); ASND 20 Oct. 1998; AFP 23 Oct. 1998; ibid. 21 Oct. 1998). The explosion occurred in Jesse town (Post Express Wired 5 Nov. 1998; ibid., 4 Nov. 1998; Environmental Rights Action (ERA); Nigerian Scholars 20 Oct. 1998) in the village of Atiworo (AFP 23 Oct. 1998; 21 Oct. 1998) in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. The explosion affected the Idjerhe clan which reportedly comprises 32 communities (ERA 21 Oct. 1998; ASND 20 Oct. 1998). Politicians from the Niger Delta, environmentalists, and Nigerian scholars called upon the government to reverse its decision and compensate the victims and to conduct an inquiry into the explosion. They also called on oil companies operating in Idjerhe to take steps aimed at restoring the ecology (ERA 21 Oct. 1998; ASND 20 Oct. 1998; Post Express Wired 5 Nov. 1998; ibid., 4 Nov. 1998; ibid., 31 Oct. 1998).

Reports of arrests and attacks against those suspected to have caused the explosion could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 23 October 1998. "Deadly Nigerians Fuel Blaze Fails to Deter Further 'Sabotage.'" (NEXIS)

_____. 21 October 1998. Francis Ahouadi. "More Die Following Nigerian Pipeline Explosion." (NEXIS)

Association of Nigerian Scholars for Dialogue (ASND). 20 October 1999. Doifie Ola & David Eighemhenrio. "Wasting Lives: Official Negligence Results in Grave Tradegy at Idjerhe, Niger Delta, Nigeria." http://nigerianscholars.africanqueen.com/opinion/idherhewast.htm [Accessed 23 Sept. 1999].

Environmental Rights Action (ERA). n.p. 21 October 1998. "Idjerhe." www.kilima.com/nigeria/tragedy.html [Accessed: 28 Sept. 1999]

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. October 1998. "Oil Pipeline Explosion."