Down the Creek

A gang boss fighting for Ijaw self determination in the Niger Delta could threaten the world's energy balance and the existence of the Nigerian state

Down the Creek The town of Tombia in the Niger Delta is little more than a burnt out shell. First the rival militias came, then the helicopter gunships. Now the town is deserted. At the root of the problem is oil. Locals complain that the Ijaw people, who form the Delta's largest ethnic group, are not given jobs in the oil industry. "If you have such wealth, your country is supposed to recognise that and give you special preferences. But that preference has not been given," complains former councillor Dokubo. Now Asari Dokubo is leading the fight for Ijaw self determination. He wants the Ijaw to reclaim their oil reserves and expel the foreign multinationals. Thousands of men have taken up arms to fight for him, forcing oil prices to top $50 per barrel. If the conflict spirals out of control, it could destroy Nigeria's unity and disrupt the global balance of oil.

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