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Kiobel Writ: Shell supported the Abacha army in fake ‘ethnic conflicts’

Between July 1993 and April 1994 hundreds of Ogoni were killed and thousands became homeless as a result of apparent ethnic conflicts between the Andoni, the Okrika and Ndoki and the Ogoni population groups. The biggest attack took place on the Ogoni village of Kaa on 4 and 5 August 1993, when an estimated 35 to 124 villagers died; The regime later proved involved in the attacks itself, with Shell providing a helping hand.

By John Donovan

The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts.

EXTRACTS FROM ESTHER KIOBEL JUNE 2017 WRIT 

8.2.5  Shell supported the army in fake ‘ethnic conflicts’

203. Between July 1993 and April 1994 hundreds of Ogoni were killed and thousands became homeless as a result of apparent ethnic conflicts between the Andoni, the Okrika and Ndoki and the Ogoni population groups. The biggest attack took place on the Ogoni village of Kaa on 4 and 5 August 1993, when an estimated 35 to 124 villagers died; widespread looting also took place and possessions and homes were destroyed.250 Despite repeated requests to this effect from MOSOP to Rufus Ada George and President Abacha, the Nigerian regime did not intervene in this period.251 The regime later proved involved in the attacks itself, with Shell providing a helping hand.

  1. In 1995 Human Rights Watch revealed that “the government played an active role in formenting […] ethnic antagonism, and indeed that some attacks attributed to rural minority communities were in fact carried out by army troops in plainclothes”.252 The UN rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions also expressed his concern about the involvement of the Nigerian regime.253 He had also sent urgent appeals to the Nigerian regime in which he expressed his concerns about “reports of the killing of about 20 persons in clashes between members of the Ogoni and Ndoki ethnic groups, the latter allegedly being supported by the security forces, in early April 1994”.254
  2. Human Rights Watch noted statements of soldiers and other witnesses showing that soldiers from the adjoining territories had attacked the Ogoni.255 Several witnesses testified that on various occasions Okuntimo had with some pride claimed responsibility for the attacks.256 The use of professional arms during the attacks, the absence of previous animosity between the population groups and the fact that the army and the police had been recalled from the area three weeks before the attacks for reasons that were unclear were also seen by Human Rights Watch as evidence of regime involvement.257
  3. Though Shell has always denied involvement,258 various witnesses in the American Kiobel case testified that Shell had offered help to the regime in the attacks on the Ogoni. For instance, Eebu Jackson Nwiyon, member of MOPOL between August 1993 and August 1995 and involved with the attack on Kaa in that capacity, has stated that the army and the police used Shell speedboats and helicopters during the operation, that MOPOL members, himself included, received money from Shell for their participation in the operation, and that he was himself flown by helicopter from the helipad at Shell’s Industrial Area to the Andoni area by a Shell pilot, bringing arms and ammunition with him.259
  4. The statements of Shell’s security officers Ukpong and Osunde and former Shell Police member Nwidoh certainly show that the Nigerian authorities used Shell helicopters, boats and other company vehicles during their operations.260 Ukpong and Precious Omuku, the person in charge of Shell’s security department in Nigeria and in that role Ukpong’s manager, confirmed that these helicopters were stationed at Shell’s Industrial Area.261 Nwido has stated that armed soldiers were regulalry transported in Shell- helicopters.262
  5.  Various other witnesses in the American Kiobel case made statements confirming the use of Shell helicopters during the Ogoni/Andoni conflict.263

Extracts end

Footnotes

250 Human Rights Watch 1995 (exhibit 222), pp. 11-13; Richard Boele/UNPO, Report of the UNPO Mission to Investigate the Situation of the Ogoni of Nigeria, 1995, (exhibit 228), p. 24.

251 Richard Boele/UNPO, Report of the UNPO Mission to Investigate the Situation of the Ogoni of Nigeria, 1995 (exhibit 228), p. 24; Letter Ken Saro-Wiwa to President Abacha, 1 November 1993 (exhibit 260).

252 Human Rights Watch 1995 (exhibit 222), p. 11. The fact that the regime is the cause of the increase in ethnic tensions has also been acknowledged by Shell: On 27 September 1994 Anderson tells the CMD that: “Ethnic differences had been exacerbated by the government, undermining national unity, and the security situation had deteriorated markedly”, Public Deposition Cornelius Herkströter, 14 april 2004 (exhibit 28), p. 100.

253 Report of Special Rapporteur Bacre Waly Ndiaya on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, of 14 December 1994, E/CN.4/1995/61 (exhibit 236), p. 76; Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions of 7 December 1993, E/CN.4/1994/7 (exhibit 235), p. 105

254 Report of Special Rapporteur Bacre Waly Ndiaya on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, of 14 December 1994, E/CN.4/1995/61 (exhibit 236), p. 76

255 Human Rights Watch 1995 (exhibit 222), pp. 11-13.

256 Human Rights Watch 1995 (exhibit 222), p. 13.

257 Richard Boele/UNPO, Report of the UNPO Mission to Investigate the Situation of the Ogoni of Nigeria, 1995 (exhibit 228), pp. 24-25; Human Rights Watch 1995 (exhibit 222), pp. 11-13.

258 Nigeria Brief 1996 (exhibit 166), p. 10.

259 Public Deposition Eebu Jackson Nwiyon, 24 May 2004 (exhibit 48), pp. 14-27, 69-71. When he climbed aboard the helicopter he saw a Shell representative – in his own words George Ukpong, Shell Nigeria’s Head of Security for the Eastern Division – talking to his manager.

260 See also above, 8.2.3.

261 Public Deposition George Akpan Ukpong, vol. I, 23 oktober 2003 (exhibit 57), p. 32; Public Deposition Precious Sotonye Omuku, 19 April 2004 (exhibit 51), p. 83.

262 Public Deposition Vincent Tornebamri Nwidoh, 25 mei 2004 (exhibit Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden.), pp. 22-24 . Nwidoh stelt ook dat Air Operation Staff “flight logs of the whereabouts and itineraries of the helicopters” bijhielden. (ibid., p. 23-24).

263 Exhibit Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden.: Public Deposition Tony Idigma, vol. I, 24 juli 2003, pp. 167- 168; exhibit Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden.: Public Deposition Benson Ikari, vol. I, 28 juli 2003, pp. 171- 180; exhibit Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden.: Public Deposition Princewill Nathan Neebani, 13 mei 2004, pp. 152-157; exhibit Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden.: Public Deposition Israel Nwidor, 24 september 2003, pp. 106-118; exhibit Fout! Verwijzingsbron niet gevonden.: Public Deposition Victor Barima Wifa, 2 april 2004, pp. 262-270.

Footnotes end

At the time of all of these horrific events in Nigeria, orchestrated by Shell to a large degree, Shell claimed that it was operating within its core business principles, including honesty, integrity, openness and respect for people. 

FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE WRIT

The numbered paragraphs above 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.

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. (*See Writ of Summons in English and Dutch served on Shell 28 June 2017 – copy obtained from US Pacer public electronic court records)

Shell blanket denial: Shell’s blanket denial of any responsibility for the ‘Ogoni Nine’ executions and related events/allegations can be read here. The denial does not explain why Shell settled for $15.5 million in June 2009 a case legally and substantively the same.

The Guardian: Shell pays out $15.5m over Saro-Wiwa killing: 9 June 2009

Shell to Pay $15.5 Million to Settle Nigerian Case: The New York Times: 8 June 2009

Shell, Nigerian families settle suit for $15.5 million: Reuters: 8 June 2009

Shell to pay $15.5 million to settle Nigeria claims: CNN: 8 June 2009

Shell Settles Human Rights Suit for $15.5 Million: Fox News/AssociatedPress: 8 June 2009

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