In July, we shared a fundraiser asking by our friends in Nigeria to support environmental protectors in the Owukpa community of Benue State, Nigeria who have been resisting illegal coal mining by the Dangote Group. The Dangote Group belongs to Africa’s richest man and has repeatedly been linked to human rights violations. Dangote is also one of Shell’s business partners in Nigeria. Last year, environmental activist Okwori Onaji was arrested and tortured after protesting Dangote’s coal mining activities, sparking fears of retribution in other communities that had organized against Dangote’s illegal coal mines.
Although we did not reach the full funding target, the fundraiser has helped to cover the legal fees for one of the activists who had been forced to leave his community temporarily after organising a protest against a Dangote mine in his area and other related expenses. Here is a message from our friend and comrade Friday Nbani Barilule of the Lekeh Development Foundation:
“Your support really helped to get threatened environmental defenders to safety by the provision of accommodation, feeding and contributed to legal and transport support that is needed to restore peace and building relationship between Community Activists Jerome Idoko and the police security. The commissioner of police of Benue State has agreed to use his good office to protect and promote the human rights defenders in the state. Mr. Jerome Idoko appreciated the solidarity and financial support made to get him safety and free. He further said it will be good to address the entire Owukpa Communities to clear the fear of arrest and to strengthen the campaign movement on coal mining in the area. The remaining funding will be used to support the campaign movement and organize sensitization with the environmental defenders to brief everyone on the progress made so far and to clear the fear of arrest in the area.”
The struggle, of course, is far from over! But in fighting companies like Shell or the Dangote Group; solidarity is our biggest weapon!