Tuesday, February 23, 1999 Published at 15:52 GMT
Delta oil companies under spotlight
Shell is to begin more drilling in Nigeria's extensive offshore beds
A leading international human rights organisation has accused oil companies of failing to respond adequately to serious human rights abuses in Nigeria's Niger delta.
The organisation argues that the oil companies, which operate joint ventures with the Nigerian government, can influence policy in the delta, but have chosen not to do so.
The Human Rights Watch report contains harrowing eyewitness accounts of extra-judicial killings, torture and rape, which it alleges are still being carried out by the security forces in the delta.
His successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has promised to restore democracy to Nigeria.
On Saturday, Nigerians will be voting in presidential elections after more than 15 years of military rule.
Oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and Texaco, say they are committed to improving the welfare of the people there.
And the report acknowledges the companies are working in a difficult environment, where successive military governments have paid little attention to the people of the Niger delta.
Local communities in the Niger delta have been campaigning against the Nigerian government and foreign oil companies.
They are demanding that a greater share of wealth from the oil industry be spent on development.