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Nigeria Grp Threatens Protest, Says Army Guards Shell Site

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL/DOW JONES NEWSWIRES: Nigeria Grp Threatens Protest, Says Army Guards Shell Site

“LAGOS (AP)–Nigerian activists Thursday accused oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell Group of backing new military deployments in the Niger Delta, threatening protests and giving the company a seven-day ultimatum to “stop further acts of hostility.”: The hanging of nine Ogoni leaders by late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha in 1995 led to the isolation of his military government and worldwide protests against Shell.”

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Posted October 22, 2004

LAGOS (AP)–Nigerian activists Thursday accused oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD,SC) of backing new military deployments in the Niger Delta, threatening protests and giving the company a seven-day ultimatum to “stop further acts of hostility.”

Shell and the military denied the accusation.

A spokesman for the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People said Nigerian soldiers and paramilitary forces had recently deployed around abandoned Shell pipeline facilities in Ogoni territory.

Thousands of Nigerian troops have been deployed in the Niger Delta over the past two months in response to a rebellion that has sent jitters through world oil markets.

But Shell and a spokesman for the Nigerian military Thursday denied troops had been sent to guard Shell facilities. The company said it had no intention of restarting operations in Ogoniland by force.

“Shell is committed to dialogue and will continue to explore this means in the resolution of crisis,” Shell said in a statement.

Shell was forced to abandon drilling on Ogoni territory in the mid-1990s following violent protests led by MOSOP, which accused the company of cheating them out of oil royalties and polluting their land.

Pipelines continue to transport crude through Ogoniland, a region with 500,000 people in the swampy southern Niger Delta, but residents have opposed efforts by Shell to repair or maintain them.

MOSOP spokesman Bariara Kpalap said the group considered “the deployment of military and paramilitary forces in Ogoni… without consultation with the Ogoni people as a hostile act and declaration of war.”

MOSOP plans to march on Shell facilities in Ogoniland and the nearby city of Port Harcourt if its demands aren’t met, Kpalap said.

Nigerian army spokesman Col. Mohammed Yusuf denied troops had been deployed in the area.

“We have not deployed any troops to Shell facilities in Ogoni. I don’t know why they’re saying that,” Yusuf told The Associated Press.

MOSOP said Shell ‘s hostile actions included “the deliberate manipulation of the leadership of Ogoni communities.”

The large Ogoni community of K-Dere, with over 10,000 inhabitants, voted its chief out of office this week, alleging he had taken bribes from Shell to allow the company to return to the area on a pipe maintenance operation, Kpalap said.

Nigeria is the world’s seventh-biggest oil exporter, pumping around 2.5 million barrels a day, and is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports. Shell was producing 28,000 barrels of crude daily from Ogoniland before it abandoned the area.

Oil firms abandoned several other wells elsewhere in the delta because of ethnic conflicts last year.

Shell last week said one of its pipelines in Ogoni was ruptured by saboteurs, resulting in lost production of 13,000 barrels per day.

The hanging of nine Ogoni leaders by late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha in 1995 led to the isolation of his military government and worldwide protests against Shell. Military rule ended in Nigeria in 1999.

The families of the nine have sued Shell in a New York court, accusing the company of recruiting police and the military to attack villages and suppress organized opposition.

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