Ijaw protest in September 1999 against the government and/or oil companies in Warri, Delta State; reaction of government security forces and whether protest participants were detained, tortured, and/or killed [NGA35067.E]

During a 1 September 2000 telephone interview the Secretary General of the Ijaw Youth Council said that Nigerian security forces conducted what they claimed were searches for arms in two local government areas just outside of Warri. The Secretary General described these actions as "attacks" by the security forces in which "some people" were killed, portions of the towns were burnt, and "about" 120 people were arrested. She said that these actions of the security forces were not in response to any demonstration against the government, or oil companies, on the part of Ijaw persons.

The Research Directorate was unable to corroborate this information. However, there are reports of Nigerian security forces engaging in a search for arms in Warri in December 1999 (IRIN 6 Dec. 1999; Post Express 8 Dec. 1999). IRIN reported the searches as having occurred in two Warri neighbourhoods (named Miller Waterside and MacIver) and that army and navy troops had "recovered a large quantity of weapons that were held by militant Ijaw youths" (ibid.). The security forces denied that 10 civilians had been killed and the Vanguard newspaper reported that the searches were prompted by a "tip" that "Ijaw youths planned to cause mayhem after the expiry of a seven-day ultimatum they gave federal troops to withdraw from Odi" (ibid.).

Post Express reported:

Tension heightened in the crisis-torn Niger-Delta area of Warri Monday as news of another killing of five of the arrested 40 persons over the weekend crisis, filtered into the oil rich city.
Restive youths had at the weekend taken on soldiers of the Nigerian Army in an extensive gun duel which left no fewer than 10 persons dead while 40 were arrested by the soldiers said to have stormed the McAiver market in search of arms and ammunition.
The news of the new killings triggered off a stampede of parents of youths involved in the crisis, who trooped to both the Army and Naval barracks in their large numbers to authenticate the report.
This was amidst reports from the military base in Warri that soldiers who engaged the armed youths at the weekend have discovered a huge arms cache in the trouble area of Delta State.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report monitored in Lagos said that advanced communication equipment the type often use in warfare scenario were among the items found.
The Post Express gathered that the death of the five suspects was as a result of severe torture in the hands of their captors.
The five dead youths according to the reports were suspended in the air for over 24 hours while awaiting interrogation, but they gave up the ghost following their inability to withstand the torture.
Meanwhile, inhabitants of the area raided by the combined team on Friday and Saturday have alleged that over N10 million was carted away from their homes by the invading military men (8 Dec. 1999).

When asked about the reports of searches in December 1999 the Secretary General noted that there are recurrent problems in the Delta region and that "1998 and 1999 were very terrible years for us." She specifically mentioned September 1999:

In September there was an attack on some Ijaw communities in Delta state by the military in the pretence of looking for arms. These led to several death cases being reported and over 140 people, youths, men, women were taken to the military barracks and were locked up for weeks. There was a protest by the groups in the delta against these action taken by the government (5 Sept. 2000).

The above is the only reference the Research Directorate could find to a protest in Warri in September 1999.

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. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Ijaw Youth Council. 5 September 2000. Correspondence from Secretary General.

_____. 1 September 2000. Telephone interview with Secretary General.

Post Express [Lagos]. 8 December 1999. Francis Onoiribholo. "Tension Mounts Over Killings in Warri." www.postexpresswired.com [Accessed 1 Sept. 2000]

United Nations, Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN). 6 December 1999."IRIN Update 609 of Events in West Africa; Nigeria: Armed Forces Recover Arms in Warri." http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/index.phtml [Accessed 1 Sept. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential. [London]. Biweekly. August - October 1999.

Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series [Oxford]. Monthly. August - October 1999.

IRB databases


New African [London]. Monthly. August - November 1999.


World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Africa Intelligence

Human Rights Watch

Intelligence Online

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge].

Nigeria Media Monitor

Nigeria News Network

Post Express [Lagos].

United Nations, Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN).

Search engines including: