Members of the BMI are disheartened to learn of the death of Mr. Baribefe Bornu, a young and energetic man who worked with the many members of the initial assessment teams sent to evaluate the Bodo oil spills of 2008.
He was gruesomely murdered on his doorstep on August 4, 2019, by unknown assailants.
Individuals and international organizations who have worked with Baribefe have these to say:
“I fondly remember Baribefe for his willingness to always offer assistance, including pulling me out of the mud in several instances. He was fearless in accepting a challenge to go into the narrow creeks and mud to reach our goals for the day.” – Dr. Erich Gundlach, BMI Project Director.
“Befe was my friend and trusted field companion in the creeks of the Niger Delta for 15 years. He was a dependable pillar of support to me and too many persons, especially those that had the opportunity of meeting him. A superb Bodo community development activist. With him, I feel secured. It is hard for me to write a tribute for Befe now -my hands are shaking”. – Dr. Nenibarini Zabbey.
“Bornu Baribefe Victor worked hard for the Bodo Community since 2011 to obtain redress and clean-up of mass oil pollution by Shell. It was clear to us that he was known and admired by all of Bodo, and he proudly boasted that there wasn’t a single person in Bodo he didn’t know. His drive, energy and passion for Bodo and its environment were key to ensuring that the Bodo people received their compensation for their loss of livelihoods following their landmark victory against Shell – an achievement which he was proud to share.
Befe had an infectious energy. During our time in Bodo he brought a smile and an unparalleled positivity in the face of adversity which brightened everybody’s day. No task was too difficult for Befe, from tirelessly distributing letters to 15,000 clients to diving into the oily Bodo creek to extract sediment samples for experts, we were incredibly lucky to have met and worked with a man so full of life. Befe’s passing is a tragic loss to Bodo and to Leigh Day. Bodo has lost a dedicated servant who would stop at nothing to help his community. Leigh Day has lost a beloved friend and colleague. He will be sorely missed” – Leigh Day & Co
“When I think of Baribefe all I can do is smile, even in this moment of great sadness. Baribefe had a smile that could light up the creeks of Bodo.
I met Baribefe when he joined our international team to fight for justice on behalf of the fishermen and people of Bodo. From the first day we called him Victor; I don’t remember why. Victor had the energy and cheeky eyes of a schoolboy. Arriving in Bodo to Victor’s big smile was the best part of my job: Victor’s happiness and positivity made the long days shorter and the hard days easier. He always had an update, a story, questions. His energy and humour were infectious. He was proud to share success and he protected us from difficult news. His eyes danced with sparkling light. Behind those eyes was a knowing mind and a huge heart. He worked tirelessly for his friends, family and neighbors; working long into the night even after the international team went home. He carried us across the mud so many times. He was fair, honest and selfless. He never asked for anything and he gave everything. He was an integral member of the team and he is a huge part of Bodo’s successful fight.
I wish we could have protected Baribefe the way he protected us. I must believe there is a reason for his death as there was a reason for his life. He poured light on us all. And his light still shines because the simple thought of him will bring me the same warmth and strength today and tomorrow as it did yesterday.
I will never forget you, Baribefe.” – Kristen Roy.
Without any political influence or connection, Befe fought for the people and made a significant impact on the life of the people in his lifetime. He will be greatly missed.
In 2013 the former Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Bert Ronhaar, took a personal interest in the Bodo case and he sought to assist in bringing about the clean-up, remediation, and restoration of oil impacted sites in Bodo. His consultation with the Nigerian government, SPDC, and the Bodo community led to the establishment of the Bodo Mediation Initiative (BMI) which was set up to oversee and mediate throughout the clean-up project.
For more information on the phase 2 Bodo Clean-up/Mediation Initiative. Please contact:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @BMI_BodoCleanup | Facebook: BMI Bodo Cleanup