Katharine Houreld

Oil on troubled waters

In a dusty house in Ogoniland, a picture of executed activist Ken Saro-Wiwa hangs on the wall. Nearly a decade after his controversial death, the Ogoni people are embroiled in a new struggle. Local people accuse Casella, a company contracted by oil giant Shell to clean up a spill, of giving funds to Chief Fabian Gberesan of the Ogoni town of KDere, who pays gangs to attack his opponents.

Tentative peace in Nigeria

An ''all-time war'' due to begin on Friday between Nigerian rebels and government troops has been averted by 11th-hour peace talks. Rebel leader Alhaji Dokubo Asari met President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday after Asari threatened to attack foreign oil installations. The threat of violence contributed to last week's record oil prices when barrels of Bonny light crude traded for more than .

Nigeria’s generation of warriors

In flip-flops and shorts, the five youths looked like any other fishermen. Only after pulling away from the jetty did they retrieve the machine gun and Kalashnikovs from under the seats. Suitably armed, we raced off through channels so narrow that mangrove trees scraped both sides of the speedboat, heading for one of the militia camps hidden in the swamps of the Niger Delta.

Scars of recognition

The trial of the 14 foreigners accused of attempting to overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea last March has thrust the notoriously repressive regime on to the international stage. However, while the spotlight shines into the rat-infested cell the alleged mercenaries share in the notorious Black Beach prison, the political prisoners arrested two years ago remain mouldering in the shadows.

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