Speaker Omoyele Sowore: The Impacts of Oil Exploration on Human Rights

Sowore Omoyele has been detained many times in Nigeria’s long struggle for democracy. His career of resistance began in 1989, when he took part in student demonstrations protesting the conditions of an International Monetary Fund loan of $120 million for Nigeria. In 1992 at University of Lagos, he led 2,000 students in protest against Nigeria’s notorious kleptocracy. Police opened fire, killing seven. Sowore — arrested, interrogated and beaten — refused to back down in his struggle for decent education in his country. He’s been imprisoned eight times and tortured, but he remains committed.

"We’ve had supposed democracy for six and a half years and people still can’t eat," he says. "Who has benefited? There’s no basic health care. We don’t have running water. We don’t have electricity, no basic education. … Shell and Chevron are among the biggest corporations in the world and they have benefited only a few people, the clique that runs the country. The Niger Delta area is polluted, occupied and heavily militarized. People get killed on behalf of the major oil companies everyday, that cannot be right."

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