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Security in Nigeria
Since 2005 the security situation in the Niger Delta has deteriorated. Heavily armed and well-organised gangs steal large volumes of crude oil worth millions of dollars a year and invade oil and gas facilities in the delta, shutting down operations, kidnapping staff and sabotaging equipment including pipelines. Rival gangs and ethnic factions have clashed violently in several of the delta’s towns. Barges take stolen oil to tankers waiting offshore for export.
The threat to people working in oil and gas operations in the delta remains high. In recent years, gangs have kidnapped SPDC employees and contractors. People working for our joint venture were killed in assaults and kidnappings in the same period.
There are many factors at the root of the instability in the Niger Delta – including unfulfilled aspirations for political recognition and influence, poverty and historical neglect, and criminality. We believe that the situation needs to be addressed through dialogue, alongside immediate infrastructure development and providing employment.
Our priority is to keep our staff safe while we continue to work with the communities, the federal, state and local governments, and other agencies in an effort to help restore peace in the Niger Delta. We continue to look for ways to improve the way we manage our relationships with communities to contribute to social development in the region.
Shell does not advocate the use of force in suppressing peaceful protest by its host communities against its operations, even if oil production is disrupted. Dialogue to resolve the underlying problems is the answer in such situations. It is the duty of government to enforce law and order - at the same time respecting the human rights of its people. In areas where armed crime and lawlessness are prevalent, the government provides policing.
Two categories of security personnel are involved in security operations in Shell Nigeria’s area of operations. The Nigeria Police Force deploys a corps to guard Shell Nigeria’s assets, facilities and staff. These Supernumerary Police generally do not carry arms. They are trained using Shell Nigeria’s Security Management System and Guidelines on the use of External Security Forces, developed in line with United Nations (UN) norms and codes, as well as the UN’s Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
The other category is the Joint Task Force – comprising the Army, Navy and Police. These are deployed by the government to provide security in the Niger Delta and waterways. In our discussions with the security authorities we have highlighted the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Guidelines on Use of Firearms. But there is a challenge in engaging this group as they operate solely under the command and control of the Nigerian government or security headquarters.