World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Ogoni peace process

07 June 2005

Letter to H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Government of Nigeria, 7
June, 2005

Your Excellency,

The World Council of Churches is delighted at the appointment of Father
Mathew Hassan Kukah by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a facilitator of
the peace process aimed at reconciliation of the people of Ogoni in Rivers State
and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). Through the years the
Council has followed with much concern and despair the developments in Ogoniland.

The years of conflict in the region have left many people dead and property worth
millions of Nairas has been lost. There have also been grave and systematic violations
of human rights by the Security Forces and destruction to the environment
as a result of the operations carried on by SPDC.

In December 1996 the World Council of Churches published a report "Ogoni:
The Struggle Continues" that contained a detailed description of the plight of
the people of Ogoniland in the oil-rich Niger delta, and criticized international
oil companies - specifically Shell International Limited - for the environmental
impact of their operations on the Ogoni people. The report was prepared as a
result of the visit of an ecumenical delegation to the region and in cooperation
with and support of the Movement for Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)
and the churches in Nigeria. Amongst others the Report recommended that Shell
should enter into a direct dialogue with MOSOP to find a just and peaceful settlement
of the conflict. We are glad that this will now take place.

The WCC report was widely circulated and well received by the churches in
Nigeria and by the international community. As a result, the leadership of Shell
International Limited sought a meeting with the leadership of the WCC. This
meeting took place at the Ecumenical Centre on 14 March, 1997. In September
1997, the WCC through its Central Committee, urged Shell International Limited
to negotiate in good faith with representatives of civil society organizations in
Ogoniland with respect to its corporate responsibility in the country, including
reparations for environmental destruction for which it is responsible. The Council
welcomed the "Statement of General Business Principles" and the commitment
made by Shell International Limited to provide support for human rights. It called
on the member churches, especially churches of Nigeria, to monitor closely the
implementation of the policies and principles.

My predecessor, Dr Konrad Raiser, was invited by the churches in October
2000 to visit Nigeria. The situation of the people of Ogoniland and WCC's support
for their struggle were raised in the meeting with Your Excellency. We also
deliberated with the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Prelate
Sunday Mbang, whose wise counsel we also valued greatly. We were assured that
the government was aware of the situation and was giving it due consideration.
At the time we were also informed of the government's initiative for the establishment
of the Niger Delta Development Commission that was expected to mobilize
further funds for economic, ecological and social development in the region.

In view of the World Council of Churches' longstanding commitment to the people
of Ogoniland we welcome and appreciate the initiative taken by Your Excellency
to restore normalcy and just peace for the people of Ogoniland. We are encouraged
by the words of Mr Ledum Mitte, President of MOSOP, and Mr Basil Omiyi, Managing
Director of SPDC, welcoming the initiative and hoping for its success.

We are encouraged by the appointment of Father Mathew Hassan Kukah, who
we have known for several years, as a facilitator of the peace process. Fr Mathew
Hassan Kukah has all the qualities of a patient and capable negotiator who is well
aware of the situation of the Ogoni people and the issues facing them. We assure
Fr Mathew Hassan Kukah of our prayers and support as he embarks on his mission
of reconciliation and peace. May our Lord's guidance and blessings be with him.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary

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