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Esther Kiobel US Court battle for 100,000 Shell docs continues

Esther Kiobel with legal team and supporters in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC, 2012 © Private

Extracts: Cravath put the mountain of Shell discovery items into secure US storage. My guess is that Shell would have preferred an accidental fire. 

Petitioner has already waited over twenty years for a forum that will hear her claims for her husband’s execution. At this point, Petitioner’s co-plaintiffs in the Dutch litigation face increasingly fragile health, and now fear that “further delaying litigation in the Netherlands might impede their ability to bring their claim in the future.”

By John Donovan

Several months ago, a US Federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein after carefully considering arguments made by the involved parties ordered Shell’s US lawyers Cravath, Swaine & Moore to give Esther Kiobel access to more than 100,000 Shell discovery documents for use in the Dutch courts. Dutch proceedings against Shell commenced on 28 June 2017.

The Shell internal documents were assembled for Esther Kiobel’s thwarted US action against the oil giant which commenced over a decade ago. That litigation ended with a US Supreme Court decision that she could not bring a human rights claim against Shell in the US for alleged misdeeds committed in Nigeria, including involvement in the judicial murder of the ‘Ogoni 9′. Cravath put the mountain of Shell discovery items into secure US storage. My guess is that Shell would have preferred an accidental fire. read more

$45m claim against Shell Brunei involving another leak

By John Donovan

Amrtur Corporation, a supplier of drill pipes and other oil industry services, has sent a letter before action making a $45m claim against Shell’s Brunei business. The move is said to be triggered by cuts resulting from the fall in oil prices. According to a report in the FT: “Amrtur asserts it suffered lost revenues of B$61.2m ($45m) between 2012 and 2016 due to alleged breaches of its contracts with Brunei Shell Petroleum Company, the 50-50 partnership between the government and Royal Dutch Shell.” read more

Kiobel Writ: Ogoni 9 trial – Shell deception and machination

While Shell publicly stated that it was trying to persuade the regime to abandon the trial using quiet diplomacy, in reality it continued supporting the regime, while negotiating new projects. It also continued actively involving itself in the course of events during the trial.

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 litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.

OGONI 9 TRIAL

Extracts begin

8.7 Shell, knowing how the trial would end, allowed its commercial interests to prevail over the fate of the Ogoni 9

315. Through its close involvement with the case and with the regime Shell knew at an early stage that the suspects would not have a fair trial. In July 1995, more than three months before the tribunal was to pass judgment, Anderson reported on a conversation he had had with President Abacha: read more

Kiobel Writ: Shell bribed witnesses in Ogoni 9 trial

Already during the trial in 1995 two witnesses testified that they had been bribed to make incriminating statements in exchange for money and a job at Shell. In their statements Nkpah and Danwi named a number of other witnesses who were bribed by Shell and the regime…: Separate extract: “We knew that Shell, the prosecutor and the members of the tribunal were working hand in glove with each other. 

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. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.  

Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

Extracts begin

8.6 Shell contributed to the outcome of the Ogoni 9 trial

8.6.1 Shell was involved in the bribery of witnesses

Already during the trial in 1995 two witnesses testified that they had been bribed to make incriminating statements in exchange for money and a job at Shell. Charles Danwi and Naayone Nkpah made a statement under oath on video on 16 and 27 February 1995 respectively, which was submitted as an affidavit to the Civil Disturbances Tribunal.409 The Tribunal however disregarded the evidence. In their statements Nkpah and Danwi named a number of other witnesses who were bribed by Shell and the regime, that is Celestine Meabe, Kevin Badara,410 Limpa Bah, Peter Fii, Saturday Iye and David Keenom (exhibit 45: Public Deposition Naayone Nkpah, 19 March 2004, pp. 19-22; exhibit 21: Affidavit Charles Danwi, 16 February 1995).411 The false statements of these bribed witnesses were decisive in the conviction of the Ogoni 9.412 The statements of Danwi and Nkpah show that shortly after the murders of the traditional Ogoni leaders they were pressured by the main prosecution witnesses Alhaji Kobani (the brother of the murdered Edward Kobani) and Priscilla Vikue413 to sign a false statement in which they accused the since apprehended MOSOP and NYCOP leaders of the murders.414 Initially they refused to do this, whereupon they were placed under house arrest for some time. Danwi testified that he was then promised the following:

“I was promise[d] that after the case in Court I will be given a house any place in the country, a Contract from Shell and OMPADEC and some amount of money to buy my musical instrument. […] On another date of meeting in Kobani’s House, representative from Shell, OMPADEC, security agents, Govt officials and the Kobani, Orage and Badey’s family were present and they all agreed. The family gave some money say that the money come from Govt. and Shell. In my case I was given N 30,000,- from Shell and Govt.”415

  • Nkpah testified to the same effect and in his fuller statement in the American Kiobel case also said who was involved in the bribery. Apart from Alhaji Kobani and some other family members of the murdered Ogoni chiefs, they were also various representatives of the regime and the oil industry, among them Shell’s lawyer O.C.J. Okocha.416 Nkpah was also promised a house, 30,000 naira and a contract at Shell, OMPADEC or the government.417 In his deposition he said that Celestine Meabe had asked Alhaji Kobani where the 30,000 naira came from, to which Kobani replied:

    “This money come from Shell, government of Nigeria. This is why the chairman, the lawyer representative is here.”.418

  • Kobani introduced this Shell lawyer to Nkpah as O.C.J. Okocha.419 Nkpah also said that Kobani had told him that “anything that is being given to us […] basically is from the government and the Shell and Ubadek [OMPADEC]”.420
  •  Just like Danwi, in exchange for signing the false testimony Nkpah was given a job in the transport section of the municipality of Gokana where, in addition to the 30,000 naira, he received a monthly salary without actually being employed.421
  • Gani Fawehinmi, the suspects’ lawyer, introduced Danwi’s statement on the second day of the Ogoni 9 trial (on 21 February 1995):

    “My Lord, he [Charles Danwi] is number 22 on the list of witnesses. He has sworn to an Affidavit and he has exhibited what is called a principal statement. He accused the Government [and] Shell Development Company for bribing him with thirty thousand naira (N30.000) and a house. He has made a full disclosure that what they have was not his statement […].”422

  •  Although Kiobel’s lawyer Alhaji Oso again tried to stress the importance of the bribery on the third day423 and explained that the reliability of the witnesses was the basis of the case,424 Nkpah and Danwi’s affidavits were not admitted as exculpatory evidence.425 At that point, Danwi and Nkpah had already gone into hiding out of fear for repercussions by the regime and could not therefore give evidence to the hearing. Their fear proved to be well-founded: both men were put on the regime’s blacklist.426 Ultimately they were forced to flee Nigeria and they were accepted as refugees in Benin.427
  • Nkpah is currently living in the United States and is prepared to substantiate his statements in detail as a witness if necessary. Danwi’s current whereabouts are unknown.
  • 8.6.2 Shell maintained direct contact with the judges of the Special Tribunal during the trial read more

    Seeds of unease over Shell US Cracker Plant

    A different perspective from the above recent PR tour by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf of the construction site for the new US Shell Chemicals Cracker Plant is provided in a letter published by The Beaver County Times. See below. This is how controversy kicked off in Ireland when local people raised legitimate questions over the Corrib Gas Project and were treated with disdain by Shell. Disdain turned to jailing of protesters and Shell sponsored corruption to buy the support of the Irish police before Shell gave up and sold out its stake at a loss. The project was hopelessly over budget and ended up delayed by many years.  read more

    The Ogoni 9 trial served to safeguard the common interests of Shell and the Abacha regime

    Shell falsely claimed to be following an apolitical course whilst exerting its influence through quiet diplomacy. In reality, it was very much involved with the course of the events during the trial… Shell’s lawyer was present at the bribing of witnesses who had to give incriminating statements against the “Ogoni 9”; they were offered compensation and a position at Shell;

    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. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    Extracts begin

    8.5 The Ogoni 9 trial served to safeguard the common interests of Shell and the regime

    8.5.1 Introduction

    1. The Ogoni 9 trial was the culmination of Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland. With the Ogoni 9 trial Abacha disposed of the Ogoni’s main political representatives in an extreme attempt to finally break the resistance. The trial served a common goal, the resumption of oil extraction in Ogoniland, and followed the ceaseless urging of Shell to bring order to matters. Professor Olubayo Oluduro said about this:“Although Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other eight Ogonis were ostensibly charged and tried for murder, it is obvious to the world that they were actually arrested and executed for expressing their discontent with the environmental harm caused by Shell and the Government in their native Ogoniland.”383
    2. As was explained in chapter 4, the Ogoni 9 trial, which commenced 6 February 1995, was a carefully prepared show trial. The 15 suspects had, when the trial started, already been held in custody for more than eight months without official charge, although it was clear that they had been apprehended on suspicion of involvement in the murder of the four traditional Ogoni leaders on 21 May 1994. Ken Saro-Wiwa, Barinem Kiobel and Baribor Bera did not hear the official charge until 28 January 1995, while Nordu Eawo and Paul Levula received the indictment on 28 February 1995. In this period the hearings of the specially set up Ogoni Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal also started. Footage of these hearings is submitted as exhibit 247. Fragments from them can also be seen in the revealing documentary “In-Remembrance Ken Saro-Wiwa” (exhibit 252).384 The trial would last until 31 October 1995 and end with the death penalty being carried out on nine of the fifteen suspects, who were executed on 10 November 1995. The serious human rights violations to which the suspects were exposed during the trial and that ultimately led to the executions are described in chapter 4.
    1. Because it soon became clear that the suspects would not receive a fair trial and were in fact political prisoners because of their opposition to Shell, all eyes were on the company. Shell falsely claimed to be following an apolitical course whilst exerting its influence through quiet diplomacy. In reality, it was very much involved with the course of the events during the trial, and in the meantime fully dedicating itself to its negotiations with the regime regarding the NLNG project which would be settled at the same time. At no time whatsoever did Shell reveal any dissatisfaction with the course of events, not even when it sent a tepid letter to Abacha just before the execution of the Ogoni 9 with a request for a pardon, for which it had apologised to the regime in advance.385 While Nigeria had by then been internationally degenerated into a pariah state, Shell continued to collaborate with the regime just as intensively.
    2. The fact that Shell’s involvement in the trial went beyond implicit support is evident from the following facts and circumstances, which are explained below:
      •  Shell itself sent a lawyer to the trial, who kept it well informed and supported the position of the prosecutor by means of a so-called watching brief;
      •  Shell lied publicly about the role that its lawyer fulfilled at the trial;
      •  during the trial Shell maintained contacts with the judges who had been appointed to decide on the case;
      •  Shell’s lawyer was present at the bribing of witnesses who had to give incriminating statements against the “Ogoni 9”; they were offered compensation and a position at Shell;
      •  Shell’s protégé Okuntimo played a dominant role during the trial;
      •  at no time did Shell publicly or discretely distance itself from the course of events during the trial;
      • Shell kept emphasising its economic interests to the regime and during the trial negotiated with the regime regarding new projects in Nigeria. One month after the executions the large-scale National Liquid Natural Gas project was announced, by which the collaboration between the regime and Shell was extended for many years.

    8.5.2 Shell sent its lawyer to look after its interests

    281. Shell sent its own lawyer O.C.J. Okocha and his colleagues to the tribunal with a so- called ‘watching brief’. A watching brief in the Nigerian legal system is a way for a third party to keep informed of developments in proceedings in order to safeguard its direct interests in them. To this end the lawyer who has the watching brief usually works closely with the public prosecutor. Nigerian jurisprudence shows that a watching brief may be refused if a party has no interest in the trial: read more

    Kiobel Writ: Shell and the Abacha regime operated a joint intelligence service

    The extent of Shell’s infiltration of Nigerian politics later became clear from the messages from the American embassy in Nigeria published by WikiLeaks. In them Executive Vice President of Shell in Africa at the time, Ann Pickard, boasted to the American ambassador that the Nigerian government had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to every ministry in the Nigerian government and was therefore aware of everything happening there

    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. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by volumous evidence.

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    Extracts begin:

    8.4.4 Shell and the regime operated a joint intelligence service

    267. Together with the State Security Service (“SSS”, the national intelligence and security service) Shell maintained its own network of informants. According to George Ukpong, Shell had daily contact with the commissioner of police of Rivers State and the director of the SSS in this period.362 The SSS, according to Upkong, “is one of the security agencies rendering valuable assistance in support of SPDC security operations in the state”; the SSS “has provided assistance in meeting some of our staff training needs” and “has been of particular assistance to [Shell] in the area of crime intelligence acquisition”. read more

    Kiobel Writ: SHELL ARMED THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE

    Shell itself took action to provide the police force with arms. In the period in which the setting up of OPAPCO and the expansion of Shell’s police force were under discussion SPDC’s security adviser Victor Oteri asked the regime for consent to import more than half a million dollars of arms. The order included: – 130 SMG Beretta 9 mm Calibre; – 200,000 Rounds of 9 mm bullets/ammunitions; – 40 Berretta Pistols (to replace unserviceable ones); – Pump Action Shotgun 12 GA, 6 shots including slings – 50,000 rounds cartridges for Pump Action Shot Guns – 20,000 rounds Shotgun rubber bullets; – 500 Smoke Hand Grenades

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    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 Begin

    8.4.2 Shell provided vehicles and facilities

    258. It was characteristic of the relationship between Shell and the regime that “for relationship rapport” Shell regularly honoured all kinds of requests from the police and the security service, ranging from the payment of boat repairs to the purchase of air conditioning and office furniture.343 Shell even offered logistical support of its own volition.344 It also regularly paid field allowances for MOPOL345 and – as previously discussed in section 8.2.3 – vehicles and buildings were made available. Shell not only arranged the transport for MOPOL, but it was also common to take care of transport in the situations in which Shell asked the regime for “assistance”, as in the examples referred to sections 8.2.3 and 8.2.4.346 The Nigerian police also remained present in Ogoniland, which by then was already a no-go area for Shell, after 1993, with the aim of protecting Shell property.347 Among other things Shell paid the salaries and the meals of these officers.348 On request Shell provided operational maps to the Nigerian army, displaying all Shell’s activities.349 read more

    SHELL JOBS UPHEAVAL

    By John Donovan

    Today we publish the opening pages of Shell’s internal consultative document which, although directed at Shell’s Dutch employees, includes a detailed description of Shell’s proposed global organisation changes.

    With regards to the Shell VP musical chairs analogy, a Shell Blog contributor has pointed out “50% of VPs would have to leave, and GM level even more.”

    The content of the Shell document is all valuable, commercially sensitive insider information, most definitely not meant for consumption by the public, Shell shareholders, or Shell’s competitors.  read more

    Kiobel Writ: Notorious Lt Col Paul Okuntimo paid by Shell

    Interviewed by The Sunday Times in Nigeria last week, Okuntimo initially admitted being paid by Shell while he was in charge of crushing Ogoni protests against the company. ‘Shell contributed to the logistics through financial support. To do this, we needed resources and Shell provided these,’ he said.

    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 Begin

    8.3.2 Okuntimo worked partly on behalf of Shell

    236. Okuntimo repeatedly and publicly stated that he conducted the operation in part on behalf of Shell.312 In the American proceedings, Boniface Ejiogu, who at the time of the Ogoni crisis was Okuntimo’s assistant, furthermore stated that he had witnessed the handing over of money by Shell to Okuntimo three times, twice by George Ukpong (exhibits 24 and 25).313 Ejiogu also stated that Ukpong and Okuntimo met each other regularly, usually in Ukpong’s office in the Industrial Area, but also at Ukpong’s home.314 Shell also assisted the RSISTF in the form of rations, ammunition and transport.315 The payments to Okuntimo by Shell were confirmed by another witness, Raphael Kponee, who was a member of Shell’s police unit and who worked at Shell’s Industrial Area (exhibit 39).316 In the American proceedings, Shell employee Osazee Osunde also testified that he had seen Ukpong and Okuntimo together on Shell’s Industrial Area.317 read more

    Scandals that return to haunt Shell

    Former Royal Dutch Shell executive director Malcolm Brinded (above left), sucked up to the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, the monster ultimately responsible for the Pan-Am 103 bombing and other terrorist atrocities. They include the murder of a British police constable Yvonne Fletcher shot outside the Libyan Embassy in London while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration. (Mr Brinded is currently embroiled in the OPL 245 Nigerian corruption scandal and previously had starring roles in the Brent Bravo “TFA” scandal and the Shell oil reserves fraud.)

    By John Donovan

    A chilling documentary “Mad Dog: Gaddafi’s Secret World” is currently available to view on BBC Player, but only for another 4 weeks. It is about “the dark world of Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator who combined oil and the implied threat of terror to turn western powers into cowed appeasers”.

    Another throughly disreputable politician makes an appearance. The then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is shown embracing and kissing the monstrous dictator on both cheeks before announcing a £1billion Libyan oil deal with Shell. Blair knew all about Gaddafi’s terrorist exploits, but like Shell, put money before principle, as he inevitably does. Naturally, then Shell boss Malcolm Brinded was up to his neck in the scandalous deal. read more

    SHELL INTENT ON FORCED RETURN TO OGONILAND?

    We understand that killing the Ogoni people is not new to Shell neither does the company use its conscience in dealing with Ogoni issues, however, Shell and the NPDC’s forceful entry into Ogoni oilfields remains unacceptable to us as a people.

    By John Donovan

    Regular visitors will be aware that we publish on a daily basis extracts from the Esther Kiobel writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017.

    The writ is all about Shell’s evil alliance with a corrupt Nigerian regime against the Ogoni people, who had the misfortune of living in oil rich lands. In Saudi Arabia they would have ended up extremely wealthy citizens, but instead remain exploited and impoverished, living in a nightmare environment of oil contamination. All down to a greedy ruthless oil giant. read more

    Long-lasting smell attached to the Gale Norton/Shell scandal

    By John Donovan

    An article published by an Oregon morning newspaper, the Daily Tidings, contains a reference to the Gale Norton scandal. Norton served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

    After granting some potential valuable oil shale leases to Shell, she resigned to become Shell General Counsel in the oil shale division.

    Soon after the inevitable public outcry, I was approached by the US government official leading the investigation and supplied Shell internal leaked documents and other assistance for which he was duly grateful and stated as such in an email. read more

    Kiobel Writ: Shell encouraged military offensive against MOSOP

    Owens Wiwa, brother of Ken Saro Wiwa, outside Shell headquarters in London

    In 1994 the Nigerian regime of Sani Abacha began a large-scale military offensive in Ogoniland to break the population’s resistance to Shell’s activities and to clear the way to a resumption of oil production.

    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

    8.3 Shell facilitated Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland

    218. In 1994 the Nigerian regime of Sani Abacha began a large-scale military offensive in Ogoniland to break the population’s resistance to Shell’s activities and to clear the way to a resumption of oil production. Not long after the offensive was announced, the leaders of MOSOP and any other prominent Ogoni were arrested, resulting in the death of the Ogoni 9 in 1995. read more

    Kiobel Writ: Shell rewarded notorious Lt Col Paul Okuntimo following excess of violence

    In the village of Korokoro the visit by Shell and the troops on 25 October 1993 led to a violent confrontation with the local population.

    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 

    8.2.6 Shell rewarded Okuntimo following excess of violence at Korokoro

    209. At the beginning of October 1993 the Rivers State authorities started peace negotiations between the Ogoni and Andoni. Shell and MOSOP were also invited to them, even though Shell was not a party to the agreement.264 Others present were “OMPADEC, the Military, the S.S.S. (State Security Service), the warring parties and Police representatives”.265 To the surprise of Owens Wiwa, who was present on behalf of MOSOP, Paul Okuntimo also joined the talks: read more

    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. read more

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