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Posts under ‘Ken Saro-Wiwa’

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

Kiobel Writ: Shell’s requests led to deaths at Bonny Terminal and Trans Niger Pipeline

The fatal incidents in Umuechem, at the Bonny Terminal and the TNP evidently did not give rise to greater caution at Shell; even after these experiences it asked the Nigerian regime to deploy additional police and army units for the protection of its facilities.

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

Kiobel: Latest Shell Lawyer Salvo in the USA Courts

By John Donovan

Printed below is the content of an OPPOSITION TO MOTION filed on 17 July 2017 by a bunch of very high priced lawyers acting for very high priced Shell lawyers Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in the US Court of Appeal.

Shell is battling behind the scenes to avoid, at all costs, handing over 100,000 items of potentially incriminating Shell internal discovery assembled years ago for the original Kiobel action against Shell in the US, which Shell managed to eventually evade on a jurisdiction issue decided by the US Supreme Court. read more

Shell complicit in excessively violent action by the Nigerian regime

Extract: Shell contributed to the ‘Umuechem massacre’: In 1990, Shell’s request to the authorities to terminate a peaceful demonstration in Umechem, a village just outside of Ogoniland, resulted in a two-day long punitive expedition by MOPOL. Dozens of people were killed, even more injured and many hundreds became homeless. Extract: MOPOL returned very early the next day to undertake a punitive expedition in Umuechem. During this expedition, 495 houses were set alight in their entirety. Many people got injured and internal Shell documents as well as a Human Rights Watch report speak of a death toll of 80.

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

Kiobel Writ: SHELL COMPLICITY IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Shell was repeatedly behind excessively violent action by the regime against the Ogoni and other population groups that were protesting against Shell. During the trial Shell was also in direct contact with the Tribunal judges and Shell’s counsel assisted the regime in bribing witnesses.

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.

8. SHELL IS COMPLICIT IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST THE OGONI 9 AND THE CLAIMANTS

8.1 Introduction

160. As explained in the previous chapter, under Nigerian law encouraging or inciting human rights violations, promoting or contributing to them, sharing in making them possible or facilitating them leads to complicity. read more

Kiobel Writ: INTERNATIONAL JURISDICTION OF DUTCH COURTS

Large-scale corruption in Nigeria and within the Nigerian judiciary has for a long time been a clear problem. Consequently, a proper judicial process cannot be guaranteed in Nigeria.

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.

INTERNATIONAL JURISDICTION OF DUTCH COURTS

6.1 Jurisdiction under the Brussels I Regulation

132. Shell Petroleum NV and Royal Dutch Shell plc have their registered offices in The Hague. It is therefore an established fact that under article 4(1) in conjunction with article 63 of the recast Brussels I Regulation the Dutch courts have jurisdiction to hear disputes in respect of these parties.167 The district court of The Hague has subject-matter jurisdiction. read more

Kiobel Writ: PROCEEDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES

The defendants were accused of complicity in various human rights violations and crimes committed against the Ogoni in Nigeria, including summary executions, crimes against humanity, torture, inhuman treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, criminally negligent homicide, indecent assault and ill-treatment. In the case against Royal Dutch/Shell it was also argued that the company acted contrary to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. On 8 June 2009, with the trial on the point of starting, Shell and the claimants agreed an out-of-court settlement. Shell paid the claimants a sum of $15.5 million in damages. 

 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 is provided after the extracts.

PROCEEDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES

5.1 Introduction

120. Following the execution of their husbands, the claimants were subject to constant threats and harassment by the Nigerian regime.162 Esther Kiobel, like many other Nigerians who became victims of Shell and the military regime, resettled in the United States from the refugee camp in Benin. In the United States two groups of victims and surviving dependants demanded damages from Shell in a civil action. The Saro-Wiwa case ended in an out-of-court settlement (see section 5.2). In the case brought by inter alia claimant 1, Esther Kiobel, the American Supreme Court ultimately did not consider that the American courts had jurisdiction to judge the case (see section 5.3). read more

Kiobel Writ: Death penalty for the Ogoni 9

THE OGONI 9 SHOW TRIAL

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 is provided after the extracts.

4.6 Death penalty for the Ogoni 9

  1. On 31 October 1995 the tribunal imposed the death penalty on nine suspects.
  2. Kiobel’s father sent a letter to Abacha seeking clemency on 7 November 1995 (exhibit 11), wherein he writes: “there is a misunderstanding, he tries to make peace”.151 The wives of those sentenced to death, including Esther Kiobel and Victoria Bera, also made an appeal to Abacha on 8 November 1995 (exhibit 12):
    “As Your Excellency is no doubt aware there is no right of appeal against the judgment of the Tribunal that convicted and sentenced our husbands so there is no forum to test the correctness or otherwise of the said decision. Besides, our husbands have to do without the services of lawyers of their choice through no fault of theirs mid way their trial; Even at the point of conviction our husbands still maintained and we are convinced of their innocence. […] Let your verdict not make us widows and our children fatherless.”152
  3. The wives explicitly refer to the lack of the possibility to initiate an appeal. The Decree of 1987 after all rules out a (more senior) court, independent of the tribunal and the regime, hearing the case again in its entirety and rectifying any legal errors. Section 7 of the Decree does say that any sentence imposed by the tribunal may not take effect until confirmed by ‘the confirming authority’.153 However, this authority cannot overturn the sentence. It is also unclear whether refusal of confirmation is possible and whether refusal would be the same as acquittal.
  4. The authority required to confirm the findings of the tribunal, the Armed Forces Ruling Council, was part of the military regime. At the time of the trial the powers of this body had transferred to the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC), newly set up by Abacha.154 The members of the PRC met on 8 November 1995. A memo of the meeting (exhibit 176) shows that Abacha was the chairman of this meeting and that:
    “He was of the view that no sympathy should be shown on the convicts so that the sentence would be a lesson to everybody. He stated that the Ogoni issue had lingered on for a very long time and should be addressed once and for all.”
  5. The Secretary-General of the United Nations said of the PRC: “The PRC confirmed the conviction and sentence even before the records of the trial were received,” and “the haste with which the sentences were confirmed by the Provisional Ruling Council PRC) implies that the Government had made up its mind and was not interested in a fair consideration of the case.”155 The memo of the meeting also shows that reconsideration of the sentence imposed by the tribunal was never an option for the members of the PRC. To prevent the regime coming across as weak, the execution had to be put into effect as soon as possible.156
  6. Meanwhile, complaints about the trial were also considered by the African Commission on Human and Peoples ́ Rights.157 When the African Commission became aware that the sentence had been confirmed by the PRC, provisional measures were imposed on the Nigerian government to prevent irreparable damage: Nigeria was to postpone the executions until the Commission had had the opportunity to discuss the case with the government.158 This call was ignored by the Nigerian regime and the next day, 10 November 1995, the nine convicts, despite national and international protests,159 were brought to death by hanging in the Federal Prisons in Port Harcourt.160
  7. The African Commission stated regarding the executions and the ignoring of the provisional measures: “Execution in the face of the invocation of rule 111 defeats the purpose of this important rule. […] This is a blot on the legal system of Nigeria which will not be easy to erase. To have carried out the execution in the face of pleas to the contrary by the Commission and world opinion is something which we pray will never happen again. That this is a violation of the Charter is an understatement.”161
Extracts end Footnotes

151 Exhibit 11: Plea for clemency for Dr Barinem Kiobel, 7 November 1995.

152 Exhibit 12: Plea for clemency on behalf of our convicted husbands, 8 November 1995.

153 Decree No. 2 1987, section 7 (see Birnbaum (exhibit 255), para. 8.14: “Any sentence imposed by the Tribunal shall not take effect until the conviction or sentence is confirmed by the confirming authority. The confirming Authority may confirm or vary the sentence of the Tribunal.” read more

Kiobel Writ: OGONI 9 SHOW TRIAL: ill-treatment of lawyers and family members

On 19 February 1995, when Esther again tried to visit her husband, she was locked up by Okuntimo and tied naked to a chair. Then she was beaten with a koboko and sexually harassed and assaulted by Okuntimo.

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 is provided after the extracts. 

THE OGONI 9 SHOW TRIAL 

4.5 Ill-treatment of lawyers and family members

Both lawyers and family members of the suspects were seriously intimidated, threatened and even ill-treated during the trial.138 On several occasions the lawyers were denied access to the heavily protected court.139 For example, at the session of 21 February 1995 Fawehinmi related how that morning he was forced by Lt. Hassan, who worked directly under Okuntimo, under threat of violence, to board a police bus. Lawyer Falana was beaten in the same incident.140 These two lawyers were also unlawfully detained by the regime during (the run-up to) the trial.141 Oso, Kiobel’s lawyer, related how he became the victim of serious intimidation. On arrival at the courthouse he was told to leave after which his driver was beaten up and his car destroyed.142 That same morning Saro-Wiwa’s 74-year-old mother was beaten up on the instructions of Lt. Hassan when she tried to enter the court.143 When Kiobel was asked on 22 June 1995 whether he could arrange another lawyer since Oso had stopped his defence, he stated, to the annoyance of Judge Auta, how his family was being harassed by the army:

“I have been detained since last year. I have no access to anybody to go and get any further information for anything or get a capable lawyer who will be able to stand to defend me. Surprisingly, Thursday last week, even my family at home and secretary to the Chief of my village are being chastised by the Armed Forces because of this matter.”144 read more

Kiobel lawyers active in US and Dutch litigation

By John Donovan

Over 100,000 Shell internal documents assembled by Shell in relation to a thwarted legal action brought against Shell by Esther Kiobel over a decade ago are the subject of a ferocious legal battle. In the mean time, they are stored under the control of Shell lawyers in a secure US warehouse at an undisclosed address. Esther holds Shell responsible for the murder of her husband Dr Barinem Kiobel – one of the ‘Ogoni 9‘. Shell’s US lawyers are currently appealing a US federal court decision that Esther Kiobel should be given access to the discovery in connection with the same human rights case she is bringing against Shell in the Netherlands. read more

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