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Shell says Ogoni 9 lawsuit widows are liars

By John Donovan

Although Shell did not use the exact words featured in the headline, it was the clear meaning of Shell’s outright rejection of the claims set forth in the Writ of Summons issued on 29 June 2017 against multiple companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group. This is what the Manager Director/Country Chair of  The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited actually said in his letter dated 22 June 2017 to Amnesty International.

The allegations cited in you letter against RDS and SPDC are false and without merit. SPDC did not collude with the military authorities to suppress community unrest and in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence in Nigeria. In fact, the company believes that dialogue is the best way to resolve disputes. We have always denied these allegations, in the strongest possible terms.

An image of the entire letter can be seen below followed by the text of the main content. 

The mountain of testimony and documentary evidence referred to in the Writ assembled by Prakken d’Oliveira the Dutch law firm acting for the named Ogoni 9 widows confirms the truth about what actually happened. That entire evidence was cavalierly dismissed.

There is another mountain of evidence in the USA. Some top gun Shell lawyers are currently desperately battling in the US courts to avoid 100,000 Shell internal discovery documents assembled and securely stored in the USA from being handed over to Esher Kiobel for use in the Dutch litigation. A US federal judge ordered Shell’s US lawyers to provide access to the relevant discovery, but that decision has been appealed. Enormous legal costs must be mounting up.

If there is no merit to the Dutch case as is claimed, what is the problem? Save Shell shareholders a fortune by sacking Shell US lawyers and handing over the evidence forthwith?

Reference is made in the PR dressing of the letter below to Shell’s claimed core values of honesty, integrity and social investment. I note that the pledge of “transparency” has been dropped from the usual mantra.

You can understand why. What is transparent about blocking the release and use of a mountain of evidence assembled by Shell as being relevant to this specific case?

It is worth remembering that Shell has been fighting tooth and nail since 2001 to stop this case from being heard in court. It is still following the same block at any costs policy to prevent its actions in Nigeria from being exposed to scrutiny and potential retribution in open court.

I will be making astonishing revelations about this case on a daily basis for the foreseeable future.

Disclosure: The lead claimant Esther Kiobel, Channa Samkalden of the Dutch human rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira representing the widows, and the acclaimed human rights organisation Amnesty International, have all kindly acknowledged my involvement in this case

 

CONTENT OF THE ABOVE LETTER

Dear Ms. Gaughran,

We are in receipt of your letter dated 18 June 2017, addressed to the Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS) and the similar letter to Brian Anderson, former Managing Director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SDSP), both regarding the operations of SPDC in the Niger Delta during the 1990s.

I would like to first say that the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow Ogonis in 1995 what tragic events that were carried out by the military government in power at the time. We were shocked and saddened when we heard the news of the executions. SPDC appealed to the Nigerian government to grant clemency. To our deep regret , that appeal, and the appeals made by many others within and outside Nigeria went unheard.

The allegations cited in you letter against RDS and SPDC are false and without merit. SPDC did not collude with the military authorities to suppress community unrest and in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence in Nigeria. In fact, the company believes that dialogue is the best way to resolve disputes. We have always denied these allegations, in the strongest possible terms.

I am proud to say that Shell has a history of nearly 60 years in Nigeria and has played a pioneering role in onshore, shallow and deep-water oil and gas exploration and production. In the past and today, Shell Companies in Nigeria have made many contributions to the Nigerian economy, not only through the energy they produce and the revenues and employment they generate for the country, but also via their extensive supply chain, local content and social investment.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that human rights is fundamental to Shell’s core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people.

Yours faithfully
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited

Osagie Okunbor
Managing Director / Country Chair

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