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Shell has spies in Nigerian ministries – WikiLeaks

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Online whistleblower, WikiLeaks, has revealed that multinational oil giant, Shell, has inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians’ moves in the Niger Delta, the Guardian of London reports.

Ann Pickard, then Shell’s vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa, told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew “everything that was being done in those ministries.”

The leaked US diplomatic cable said the unnamed executive boasted that the Nigerian government had ‘forgotten’ about the extent of Shell’s infiltration and were unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.

The cache of secret dispatches from Washington’s embassies in Africa also revealed that the oil firm swapped intelligence with the US. In one case, it provided US diplomats with the names of Nigerian politicians it suspected of supporting militant activity and requested information from the US on whether the militants had acquired anti-aircraft missiles.

Cables from Nigeria show how Pickard sought to share intelligence with the US government on militant activity and business competition in the Niger Delta – and how, with some prescience, she seemed reluctant to open up because of a suspicion the US government was ‘leaky’.

According to the report, “But that did not prevent Pickard disclosing the company’s reach into the Nigerian government when she met US ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, as recorded in a confidential memo from the US embassy in Abuja on 20 October 2009.

“At the meeting, Pickard related how the company had obtained a letter showing that the Nigerian government had invited bids for oil concessions from China. She said the minister of state for petroleum resources, Odein Ajumogobia, had denied the letter had been sent but Shell knew similar correspondence had taken place with China and Russia.

“The ambassador reported, “She said the GON (government of Nigeria) had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to all the relevant ministries and that Shell consequently had access to everything that was being done in those ministries.”

According to the paper, a spokesman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Levi Ajuonoma, denied the report.

He said, “Shell does not control the government of Nigeria and has never controlled the government of Nigeria. This cable is the mere interpretation of one individual. It is absolutely untrue, absolute falsehood and utterly misleading.

“It is an attempt to demean the government and we will not stand for that. I don‘t think anybody will lose sleep over it.”

Pickard also said Shell had learned from the British government details of Russian energy company Gazprom’s ambitions to enter the Nigerian market.

The report adds, “Pickard alleged that a conversation with a Nigerian government minister had been secretly recorded by the Russians. Shortly after the meeting in the minister‘s office she received a verbatim transcript of the meeting “from Russia,” according to the memo.

“The cable concludes with the observation that the oil executive had tended to be guarded in discussion with US officials. ‘Pickard has repeatedly told us she does not like to talk to USG (US government) officials because the USG is ‘leaky‘. She may be concerned that … bad news about Shell‘s Nigerian operations will leak out.”

SOURCE

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