The Ikwerre Youth Association in Port Harcourt, Nigeria including their activities; treatment of their members by the authorities; negotiations with the Hillbros [Willbros] [NGA36946.E]

No mention of the Ikwerre Youth Association in Port Harcourt, Nigeria could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, there exists an organization known as the Ikwerre Youth Council (IYC) (Excerpts from Ikwerre Charter, 4 Sept. 1999). According to the Ikwerre Charter, the IYC is an association of "youths from all the villages, towns, clans and those in the diaspora" determined to take their destiny in their own hands. The IYC is purportedly, "a democratic and non-violent body, committed to the promotion of peace and justice...the youths of Ikwerre ethnic nationality are irrevocably committed to the total emancipation of Ikwerre land from modernised slavery" (ibid.).

According to Human Rights Watch, the Ikwerre are found in the community of Choba, Rivers State (22 Dec. 1999). HRW explains that Choba is an Ikwerre community which is the site of the federal University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), though it is some half an hour's drive from the city of Port Harcout itself. It is also he site of the Nigeria headquarters of Willbros Nigeria Ltd, a pipeline construction business which is a subsidiary of Willbros Group, Inc., an American company whose "administrative office" is in Oklahoma (although its headquarters is in Panama) (ibid.).

Human Rights Watch reports that "for some years there has been discontent among the people of Chobe with the failure of Willbros to employ more than a handful of Choba indigenes" (ibid.). HRW states that,

On September 17, 1999, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Choba community, represented by thirty-four individuals, and Willbros, represented by divisional manager J.B. Brown and systems manager Lloyd Biggers, both expatriates. The agreement was facilitated by the Rivers State government, and signed in the presence of Paworiso Samuel Horsfall, the state commissioner for the environment and natural resources. By the agreement, Willbros agreed, among other things, to build a secondary school on land to be provided by the community; to employ an administrative assistant from Choba who would be responsible for general staff recruitment and to review from time to time the number of Willbros staff from Choba with a view to increasing the number; to repair damaged sections of road near the plant and to provide equipment for construction of a new road; to provide for water distribution; and to remove from employment Chief Nwasuruba, the company's administrative manager, and Sam Oniyide, the security manager, with effect from September 30...
Willbros asserts that following a meeting with Choba community representatives on October 25, at which the community reverted to its original position before the agreement was concluded on September 17, youths "stormed through the gate at our yard" on October 27, and sabotaged marine equipment, including a dredge and tugboat. The company also alleges that further assaults on Willbros premises and staff took place on October 28 and 29, and that some of those involved werearmed with firearms. Human Rights Watch has not been able to verify these or other allegations by the company...
On October 28, a number of soldiers and mobile police came to Choba and dispersed the demonstrators at the Willbros gates. Community member reported that soldiers killed four people the next day, injured several others, of whom one had his arm amputated, and raped at least sixty-seven women. The soldiers also ransacked several stalls near to the Willbros gates, and reportedly detained twenty-one youths (ibid.).

For detailed information on the Ikwerre, the origins of their discontent, their treament by the authorities, and negotiations with Willbros, please consult the attached documents.

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.


Human Rights Watch. 22 December 1999. "The Destruction of Odi and Rape in Choba, December 22, 1999." [Accessed: 16 May 2001]

Excerpts from the Ikwerre Charter. 5 September 1999. "Ikwerre Rescue Charter." [Accessed: 16 May 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa News Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.


Keesing's Record of World Events.

Resource Centre. Country File. Nigeria.

West Africa.

Internet sites including,

Africa News.

Post Express Wired.

Religious Freedom.


Search Engines including:




Human Rights Watch. 22 December 1999. "The Destruction of Odi and Rape in Choba, December 22, 1999." [Accessed: 16 May 2001]

Excerpts from the Ikwerre Charter. 5 September 1999. "Ikwerre Rescue Charter." [Accessed: 16 May 2001]

Ikwerre Rescue Charter. 9 September 1999. http:/ [Accessed: 16 May 2001]

Post Express Wired [Ikeja]. 15 July 2000. "Ikwerres Will Resist All Forms of Injustice Against Them-Okwukwu." [Accessed: 16 May 2001.