Release Jailed Nigerian Labor Leaders
Source D. Ohmans
Date 99/05/01/02:30

/* Written 2:47 PM Mar 25, 1998 by in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "Release Jailed Nigerian Labor Leade" ---------- */

For Immediate Release: March 25, 1998
Contacts: Roger Bradley, Dir., Atlantic Region - 703-876-9700
Joe Drexler, Special Projects Director - 303-987-5349
Bob Burdick, International Rep. - 609-428-3115
Art Wilson, International Rep. - 302-234-0705

Oil Workers' Union Begins Campaign To Win Release of
Jailed Nigerian Labor Leaders
Philadelphia Refineries of Sun Company Targeted in
Protest Over Use of Nigerian Crude Oil

LAKEWOOD, CO -- The Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers
International Union (OCAW) will start efforts today to
win the release of Frank Kokori and Milton Dabibi, two
Nigerian oil union leaders who have been imprisoned since
1994 and 1996.

The two labor leaders have been declared "prisoners of
conscience" by Amnesty International. They are believed
to be in poor health, and have been denied medical care
and legal assistance.

The OCAW efforts are part of a worldwide campaign to win
the release of the jailed labor leaders. The actions are
being coordinated by the International Federation of
Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions --
representing some 20 million union members worldwide --
and to which OCAW is affiliated. The campaign is
promoting an international boycott of Nigerian crude oil
to secure the union leaders' release.

The U.S. is the largest importer of Nigerian crude oil.
OCAW actions are viewed as a "significant first step to
let U.S. oil companies and the Nigerian government know
that we are preparing for action," said Robert Wages,
OCAW President. OCAW represents almost all of the
unionized oil refinery workers in the U.S.

The first OCAW effort starts today at Philadelphia-area
refineries operated by Sun Company. Similar efforts will
start next week at Tosco, which operates a refinery in
Marcus Hook, Pa.

"We will be attempting to persuade the companies to find
another source of crude oil," said Roger Bradley,
director of OCAW's Atlantic Region.

"If the Pope can speak out against Nigeria's military
dictatorship and for the release of political prisoners,
so can we," said Bob Burdick, OCAW international
representative, in referring to Pope John Paul's call for
the release of political prisoners during his visit to
Nigeria five days ago.

Informational handbilling and one-on-one discussions will
be occurring throughout this week and next at Sun and
Tosco refineries in the Philadelphia area. The actions
are aimed at informing and educating union members on the
situation in Nigeria. OCAW members will also be signing
petitions addressed to each company's CEO, calling for an
end to the use of Nigerian crude oil and asking that the
CEOs use their leverage to seek the trade union leaders'

Postcards from OCAW members at the refineries and other
OCAW-represented workplaces on the East Coast, demanding
the release of Kokori and Dabibi, are also being sent to
the Nigerian Ambassador in Washington, DC.

OCAW will gradually escalate its activities, targeting
oil refining companies nationwide, until the trade union
leaders are released. Other U.S. oil companies importing
Nigerian crude are Mobil, Texaco, Chevron, Shell, and
Phillips Petroleum.

Letters were sent by President Wages on Tuesday to the
CEOs of oil companies which process Nigerian crude,
urging them to use their influence to seek release of the
trade unionists and to find an alternative source of
crude oil.

"Although we are directly seeking the release of Kokori
and Dabibi, we join with others throughout the world who
are calling for the release of all political prisoners in
Nigeria and for the restoration of democracy," added

Frank Kokori, general secretary of NUPENG -- which
represents Nigeria's production and refinery oil workers
-- was imprisoned by the current Abacha dictatorship
after oil workers struck in 1994 in protest over the
military regime's draconian anti-labor decrees. Milton
Dabibi, general secretary of PENGASSAN -- largely
representing white-collar oil company employees -- was
jailed in 1996 for protesting the lack of democracy and
the incarceration of Kokori. Both unions have been taken
over by the military government and have had their bank
accounts frozen.

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