|Posted by Ataria Aruaman, Kelvin on October 3, 2009 at 6:43 AM|
DECLARATION OF NIGER DELTA BILL OF RIGHTS
We the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta Region [inhabitants of present day Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers States] with a population of over 30 million people, being culturally different and with unique problems not peculiar to, or, with any other nationality within the framework of the Republic of Nigeria, do conscientiously present to the people and government of Nigeria, the following established facts:
1. That, the Niger Delta People comprised of independent nationalities with their own traditions, customs and forms of government before the Berlin Conference of 1884, in which the continent of Africa was partitioned into spheres of influence by European imperialists.
2. That it was the aftermath of the Berlin conference that Nigeria [amalgamation of nationalities] became a British dominion and the Niger Delta people coerced into the colonial State of Nigeria in 1914 against their wish, fundamental rights and beliefs.
3. That the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta have been in existence independently for over 300 years before the Nigerian State was created in 1914.
4. That Niger Delta people were callously merged with other nationalities in 1939, when the British divided the Southern Protectorate into Eastern and Western Regions.
5. That the protest to the forced union was made in testimony before the Willink Commission of Inquiry into Minority Fears in 1958.
6. That the aforementioned protest led in part to the creation of the Mid Western Region in 1963; Rivers and Cross Rivers in 1967; Akwa Ibom and Delta States in 1994 and the State of Bayelsa in 1996.
7. That exploration and exploitation of crude oil from the lands and seas of the Niger Delta people commenced in 1937 by Shell D’Arcy, and commercial quantities of oil for export was struck at Oloibiri [Bayelsa State] in 1956; Ogoni [Rivers State] in 1958, and from various oilfields of the Niger Delta Region. That the following companies are on record to have prospected for oil in this Region: Mobil, Gulf [Chevron], Elf, Agip, Texaco, Total, StatOil, British Gas, Teneco, Deminex and Sun Oil.
8. That in over 40 years of oil exploration, the Niger Delta nationalities have provided the Nigerian State with total revenue estimated at over $300 billion, but our people still live in abject poverty.
9. That even with such sacrifice and magnanimity aimed at promoting unity and national cohesiveness, the Niger Delta people have been plagued by State sponsored terrorism; wanton neglect; ecological catastrophes; deliberate destruction of historical villages; sacred institutions; farm lands, fishing settlements; constant inundation of air, water and river pollution by hydrocarbons.
10. That the dubious and nefarious policy alliance between the Nigerian State and multinational companies aimed at suppression and deprivation of the fundamental Rights of the Niger Delta people is the source of their political marginalization and the degradation of the quality of human life in this region.
11. That the people of the Niger Delta are faced with unbridled destitution, generational poverty, oil spillages, oil pipeline fire disasters, ecological degradation of human habitat and illiteracy but no equitable remedy.
12. That the Niger Delta people are deprived of the control of their own resources for development in a Unitary Republic due to the promulgation of the following exploitative decrees and shadow legislations:
i) The Petroleum Act of 1969 and 1991
ii) The Land use Act of 1978 and 1993
iii) The National Waterways Decree of 1997
13. That we have watched with utmost disgust, the deliberate annihilation of the derivation principle of the Revenue Allocation Formula enacted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 100% in 1953; 50% in 1960; 45% in 1970; 20% in 1975; 25% in 1982; 1.55% in 1984; 3% in 1992; to 13% in 2000[read 7.25% due to the onshore/offshore decree]. We hereby state that this allocation formula is unacceptable and an affront on the intelligence of our people.
14. That we want to put on record that we sympathize with the recent declaration of the Shari’ah Islamic legal system in some northern states of the Federation as it is their religious right and obligation. But, we unequivocally insist on not being part of a Federation that elevates a religious law above the constitution.
15. That in view of the aforementioned insensitive and callous developments within the Nigerian State, we the officials of the Niger Delta Congress hereby make this binding resolution on November 10, 2000 on the anniversary of the judicial murder of Ken Saro Wiwa, to be known as the NIGER DELTA BILL OF RIGHTS and filed with the United Nations in New York as follows:
I. The Niger Delta people hereby seek self determination and the right to religious and economic freedom with 100% control of our resources. Or, failing which, the Niger Delta people hereby request for political autonomy similar in status to other oppressed indigenous people e.g. East Timor.
Ii. The Niger Delta people insists on the right to develop our political structures, languages and cultures.
iii. That the oppressed people of the Niger Delta be recognized as people of distinct nationalities.
iv. We resolutely demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal from the Niger Delta Region of all forces of occupation controlled by the Nigerian State.
v. We urge the United Nations to summon the Nigerian State into question and conduct a Plebiscite for the nationalities of the Niger Delta to vote for self determination as guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Chief Mpaka Princewill
President, Niger Delta Congress