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Shell’s team of undercover officers in Nigeria

Shell managed a large force of police officers, which provided security for the company’s personnel and property. The records show that this force included a team of undercover officers, which received training from the security services. 

Extract from pages 9, 10 & 11 of an Amnesty International document headed: “A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE? SHELL’S INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NIGERIA IN THE 1990s”

Under Executive Summary.

BEGINS

SHELL LENT MATERIAL SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE TO THE ARMED FORCES

Shell provided the security forces with logistical support and payments as a matter of routine during the 1990s. Former Shell Nigeria chairperson, Brian Anderson explained that this was standard practice in relation to the military:

“In reality, any operational contact with the government requires financial and logistical support from Shell. For example to get representatives of the Department of Petroleum Resources to view an oil spill we often have to provide transport and other amenities. The same applies to military protection.” (emphasis added)

Shell managed a large force of police officers, which provided security for the company’s personnel and property. The records show that this force included a team of undercover officers, which received training from the security services. According to a former Shell security official, this team conducted intelligence gathering operations in the Niger Delta, including Ogoniland. The official said that he shared information with the security services on a daily basis.

As detailed above, Shell admitted to paying Major Paul Okuntimo, the commander of the ISTF and his men, for conducting a patrol in Ogoniland in October 1993. Shell Nigeria’s then chairperson, Brian Anderson claimed that this payment was the only occasion Shell had been in contact with Paul Okuntimo. However there is evidence that Shell continued to be in contact with Okuntimo after this payment was made.

Paul Okuntimo twice told journalists that he continued to be in contact with Shell throughout the crisis, although these statements contradict one another. According to the Sunday Times (of London), on 17 December 1995, Paul Okuntimo admitted to journalists that Shell had indeed paid him and his troops. He said that, “Shell contributed to the logistics through financial support. To do this, we needed resources and Shell provided these.” In a televised interview in 2012, (by now Retired General) Paul Okuntimo denied receiving a “single penny” from Shell. But he said that Shell had been secretly in touch with him, encouraging him to take action in Ogoniland.

“They would only send that stupid man to me who will come even when I am worshipping in church and say that ‘there is trouble in Ogoni, go and, go and…”

There is further evidence of secret payments by Shell to Paul Okuntimo, including the witness statements of three former members of the Nigerian security forces. Boniface Ejiogu was Major Okuntimo’s orderly from May 1994. Ejiogu testified that Shell provided the ISTF with logistical support. He said that he saw Okuntimo transported in a Shell-operated helicopter, and soldiers ferried in buses and boats provided by the company. He said that when the ISTF planned “night operations”, Okuntimo would call George Ukpong, the then head of security for Shell, to request the use of company pick-up trucks. He also said that he saw the company provide the ISTF with regular food deliveries at its camp.

Ejiogu testifed that he twice collected money from George Ukpong to give to Major Okuntimo. Boniface Ejiogu’s account of seeing Major Okuntimo receive money was supported by Raphael Kponee, a police officer seconded to guard Shell. Eebu Jackson Nwiyon, a former member of MOPOL, also testified to seeing Shell staff make payments to the security forces and Major Okuntimo.

EXTRACT ENDS

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