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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SAYS SHELL KNEW ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN OGONILAND

Throughout 1994 and 1995 when many of the events described in this report occurred, Shell and the government were also in negotiations over a $4 billion dollar liquefied natural gas project, at the time one of the largest investments in Africa. Shell announced that this joint venture project was going ahead just five days after the execution of the Ogoni Nine. 

Extract from page 9 of an Amnesty International document headed: “A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE? SHELL’S INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NIGERIA IN THE 1990s”

Under Executive Summary.

SHELL KNEW ABOUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN OGONILAND

From mid-1993, as the violence increased in Ogoniland, it is inconceivable that Shell was not aware of the worsening human rights situation. The involvement of the armed forces was widely reported on at the time, both in Nigeria and internationally. Organizations, including Amnesty International, published numerous documents, drawing attention to specific incidents, such as the detention of Ken Saro-Wiwa and extrajudicial executions of Ogoni residents by the security forces.

Shell’s knowledge went beyond widely reported events. Executives met regularly with top government officials, and discussed the government strategy for dealing with the Ogoni protests. Shell had close links with Nigeria’s internal security agency. Shell’s former head of security for the region gave a witness statement saying that he shared information with the agency on a daily basis.

SHELL MOTIVATED THE GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE OGONI PROTESTS

Internal Shell documents reveal that company executives repeatedly underlined to government officials the economic impact of the Ogoni protests and requested they resolve the “problem.”

For example, on 19 March 1993 Shell sent a letter to the governor of Rivers State, where Ogoniland is located, requesting his “intervention to enable us carry out our operations given the strategic nature of our business to the economy of the nation.” After General Sani Abacha seized power in November 1993, Shell wrote almost immediately to the newly appointed military administrator of Rivers State (on 13 December) saying that “community disturbances, blockade and sabotage” had led to a drop in production of almost nine million barrels during the course of the year and asked for help to “minimize the disruptions.” In the letter, Shell named the communities, including those in Ogoniland, where these “community disturbances” had taken place. Shortly afterwards, the military administrator created the military force, the ISTF.

Shell then had other opportunities to lobby the government for action. The then chairperson of Shell Nigeria, Brian Anderson, had at least three meetings with Sani Abacha during the height of the Ogoni crisis from 1994-5. During their first discussion (which took place on 30 April 1994), Anderson said he raised, “the problem of the Ogonis and Ken Saro-Wiwa, pointing out that Shell had not been in the area for almost a year. We told him of the destruction that they had created at our sites of which he was apparently unaware.”

Throughout 1994 and 1995 when many of the events described in this report occurred, Shell and the government were also in negotiations over a $4 billion dollar liquefied natural gas project, at the time one of the largest investments in Africa. Shell announced that this joint venture project was going ahead just five days after the execution of the Ogoni Nine.

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