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Kiobel Writ: Manhunt in Ogoniland

The UN rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions had the following to say about this: “Renewed military attacks against Ogoni villages were reported to have occurred during the first two weeks of June 1994, leading to the killing of at least 40 civilians. Fears were expressed for the lives of a large number of others who were reported to have been detained”

By John Donovan

The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the English translation of a 138 page Writ of Summons served on Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017 by Dutch Human Rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira. They represent four widows including Esther Kiobel who hold Shell liable for the murder of their husbands individual Ogoni leaders now known collectively as the ‘Ogoni Nine‘. MOSOP Chairman Ken Saro-Wiwa was one of the group. For the purpose of this online publication, the footnotes are indicated in red text.

THE OGONI 9 SHOW TRIAL

4.2.5 Manhunt in Ogoniland

81. In total 15 Ogoni leaders were arrested who would later be brought to trial for alleged complicity in the murders. The murders were used as an excuse to put MOSOP in even more of a poor light. During the press conference on 22 May 1994 a journalist stated that “[MOSOP’s] program and irresponsible activities has contributed a lot to the disturbances in this state” and Komo was asked whether it would not be better to ban MOSOP. Komo’s reply was short and to the point: “We are going after them”.76 In the days following the incident many other innocent parties were therefore picked up – and murdered – in the course of manhunts by Okuntimo’s RSISTF.77 Okuntimo’s troops left a trail of devastation behind them in different villages, villagers being punished for alleged support of MOSOP. The UN rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions had the following to say about this:

“Renewed military attacks against Ogoni villages were reported to have occurred during the first two weeks of June 1994, leading to the killing of at least 40 civilians. Fears were expressed for the lives of a large number of others who were reported to have been detained […]

The Special Rapporteur also transmitted to the Government allegations he had received concerning the killing of [56] persons […] all of them said to belong to the Ogoni ethnic community, by soldiers of the “internal security unit”.78

82. Okuntimo would later describe this operation as ‘psychological warfare’, intended to bring about a ‘constructive dialogue’.79

Footnotes

76 Written transcript press conference, 22 May 1994 (exhibit 5), p. 2 (the file consists of ten pages, numbered: pp. 1-7 and pp. 1-3. This appears on the second page 2); Video press conference 22 May 1994 (exhibit 254), 19:29 to 19:53.

77 M. Birnbaum, Nigeria Fundamental Rights Denied, Report of the trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Others, June 1995 (exhibit 255), paras. 1.4, 3.9; See also at 233 until 235.

78 Exhibit 236: Report of Special Rapporteur Bacre Waly Ndiaya on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, of 14 December 1994, E/CN.4/1995/61, p. 76

79 Exhibit 222: Human Rights Watch, Nigeria the Ogoni Crisis: A Case-Study of Military Repression in Southeastern Nigeria, July 1995, p. 11; Documentary The Drilling Fields, 23 May 1994, (tape

Footnotes end

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 acknowledged the involvement of John Donovan in bringing this case.

Shell blanket denial: Shell’s blanket denial of any responsibility for the ‘Ogoni Nine’ executions and related events/allegations can be read here

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