Chevron may have paid agents of Nigerian military to attack villagers

On Jan. 3, 1999, a number of residents of Opia, Nigeria, visited a Chevron oil rig to demand compensation for fishing gear destroyed by the oil company’s operations. On Jan. 4, Nigerian military personnel attacked and burned the villages of Opia and Ikenyan, leaving four villagers dead and at least 70 more missing and presumed dead. Now, in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims in U.S. federal court, lawyers have produced a Chevron receipt for the equivalent of $165, paid to a Nigerian navy captain within days of the raids, for responding to “attacks from Opia village against security agents.” The destruction of the villages occurred against a backdrop of extreme economic injustice in Nigeria, where people in the country’s oil-rich delta region live in poverty, their fishing areas and farmland poisoned by nearby oil operations that supply the world with some of its highest-quality petroleum. Chevron denies the charges and claims it will be vindicated.