Wednesday, April 16, 2008
A man carrying a machete walks by a burning oil pipeline last month near a farm in Kegbara Dere, Nigeria. The fire burned strong for 45 days, raining ash down on the village.
Documentary filmmaker Sandy Cioffi entered Nigeria legally on April 5, along with Tammi Simms, her producer; and photojournalists Cliff Worsham and Sean Porter. They were accompanied by Nigerian citizen Joel Bisina, who is the founder of a Warri-based NGO, Niger Delta Professionals for Development.
Cioffi is in Nigeria making a documentary film, Sweet Crude, about the impact of the petroleum industry on the economy and environment of the Niger Delta. On April 12, the five were taken into custody by the Nigerian military and so far, have not been charged with anything. They have been denied outside contact, nor have they been formally charged with a crime. The four US Citizens had Visas to enter Nigeria, issued by the Nigerian government, and were returning to the Niger River Delta to complete the film WITH PERMISSION FROM THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT. (emphasis mine.)
Nigeria's petroleum industry is well-known for corruption, pollution and injustice. As the largest producer of oil in Africa, apparently Nigeria doesn't want the world to know too much. We in America import a tremendous amount of oil from Nigeria - is our government complicit in this arrest?
That we depend upon foreign oil is at core of this issue. And it takes the courage of Artists (these filmmakers) to shine the light on this industry. Apparently, their crime is to simply point a camera. So far they've not been charged, and according to Nigerian law, they must be charged within 48 hours or released. It has been over 48 hours. Let's make some noise.