Odi massacre

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The Odi massacre was an attack carried out on November 20, 1999, by the Nigerian military on the predominantly Ijaw town of Odi in Bayelsa State. The attack came in the context of an ongoing conflict in the Niger Delta over indigenous rights to oil resources and environmental protection.

People generally say that the massacre was ordered by the regime of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and vice president Atiku Abubakar . The military has often defended its action saying it was ambushed on its way to Odi. As a result, tensions rose prior to entrance into the village.


Prior to the massacre, twelve members of the Nigerian police were murdered by a gang near Odi, seven on November 4 and the remainder in the following days.[1] In retaliation, the military decided to invade the village but there are reports that the army was ambushed close to the village thus tensions soared, they broke through the ambush and exchanged fire with armed militias in the village who were believed to be using the civilian population as cover. This and the "ambush" provocation led to the attack on civilian population and the town's buildings. Every building in the town except the bank, the Anglican church and the health center was burned to the ground. All of this happened in president Olusegun Obasanjo's reign. [1]

Death toll[edit]

A wide range of estimates have been given for the numbers of civilians killed. Human Rights Watch concluded that "the soldiers must certainly have killed tens of unarmed civilians and that figures of several hundred dead are entirely possible."[1] Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action, claims that nearly 2500 civilians were killed.[2] The government initially put the death toll at 43, including eight soldiers.[1]

Court case[edit]

In February 2013, the Federal High Court ordered the Federal Government to pay N37.6 billion compensation to the people of Odi. In his judgment, Justice Lambi Akanbi condemned the government for a "brazen violation of the fundamental human rights of the victims to movement, life and to own property and live peacefully in their ancestral home." [3]

The case led to the payment of N15 billion from the Goodluck Jonathan led administration as out of court settlement. According to Prof. Kobina Imananagha (Chairman of the Odi Destruction Case Prosecution Committee (ODCPC)) “The London court issued threats that it was going to enforce the full judgement of the court (payment of N37.6billion) if by October 21, 2014, government fails to negotiate settlement and pay agreed compensation to Odi. This seeming that compelled the Federal Ministry of Justice and the leadership of the legal team, ODCPC and the king of Odi to the negotiation table on May 26, 2014 where N15billion (as the only and final payment) offer as compensation to Odi was made by the Federal Government”. [4]

The government later paid the sum of N15 billion which led to further conflict in the community and the subsequent kidnap of the committee Chairman Prof. Zibokere who was later released. [5][6][7]

References in popular culture[edit]

The Odi massacre inspired a song titled "Dem Mama" on Timaya's True Story album.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Destruction of Odi and Rape in Choba". HRW.org. Human Rights Watch. 1999-12-22. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  2. ^ Bassey, Nnimmo (2006-06-02). "Trade and Human Rights in the Niger Delta of Nigeria". Pambazuka News. Fahamu. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  3. ^ "Odi Massacre: Court orders Nigerian Government to pay N37bn damages to residents". Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  4. ^ "'Why FG Paid Odi N15bn Compensation'". The Tide News Online. The Tide. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Odi Massacre: Crisis Over FG's N15bn Payment". The Tide News Online. The Tide. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Gunmen Abduct Chairman of Odi Compensation Committee In Bayelsa". Sahara Reporters. Sahara Reporters. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Prof Daukiye, Odi compensation fund c'ttee chairman kidnapped". Vanguard. Vanguard. Retrieved 12 July 2016.

External links[edit]