Niger Delta pipeline blast signals renewed insurgency

Three people were killed and several wounded when an oil pipeline belonging to Italy's ENI exploded in Nigeria's southern Delta region March 27. There have been numerous recent pipeline accidents in the region, where residents have long complained about oil pollution, but the blast at Olugboboro, Bayelsa state, appears to have been an intentional attack. One alleged perpetrator has been arrested, and four others are said to remain at large. Militant attacks are again on the rise in the Niger Delta. In February militants staged a sophisticated underwater attack, probably using divers, on a Shell pipeline, shutting down the 250,000 barrel-a-day Forcados export terminal. President Muhammadu Buhari, elected a year ago, has extended an amnesty signed with the militants in 2009, but has ended pipeline protection contracts to former militant groups. In a period of insurgency a decade ago, groups such as the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) attacked pipelines and abducted oil workers before Buhari's predecssor Goodluck Jonathan instated the amnesty and began granting contracts to the former militants. There are fears the militants are now returning to arms, and even reviving ambitions to secede from Nigeria. (Reuters, March 30; Reuters, March 29; The Guardian, Nigeria, March 28 via AllAfrica; IBT, July 28)

  1. Judge allows Abu Ghraib prisoners’ lawsuit to move forward

    US District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Feb. 27 allowed a lawsuit brought by three former inmates of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq against military contractor CACI Premier Technology to proceed. The case, originally filed in 2008 by the Center for Constitutional Rights, alleges that military police (MPs) tortured the prisoners at the direction of civilian contractors like CACI. The suit claims that CACI would order MPs to torture prisoners as a way to soften them up for questioning by civilian contractors. The case has been dismissed multiple times by the district court, but has been revived by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit each time.

    The district judge said that she interprets the Fourth Circuit’s remand to require her to bring the case to trial and said to the parties, "You should expect, if you don't settle this case, it’ll go to trial."

    This latest ruling is a result of CACI's motion to dismiss based on State Secrets Privilege. CACI stated that because the military refuses to declassify the names of the troops and contractors, CACI could not mount a defense. The district judge was sympathetic and granted a motion to dismiss against a plaintiff whose time at Abu Ghraib did not overlap with CACI's, but refused to dismiss on the State Secrets Privilege.

    CACI also maintains any jury would be influenced by the negative public reaction to torture at Abu Ghraib prison where photos of prisoner treatment were released in 2008. (Jurist)