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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SAYS SHELL SOLICITED AND ENCOURAGED INTERVENTION BY THE NIGERIAN SECURITY AND MILITARY FORCES

…Brian Anderson had another meeting with General Abacha. Despite being aware that Ken Saro-Wiwa and scores of others were now in detention and that many Ogonis had been killed in raids by the ISTF, Anderson’s own notes of the meeting do not refer to these issues at all.

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 SOLICITED AND ENCOURAGED INTERVENTION BY THE NIGERIAN SECURITY FORCES AND MILITARY AUTHORITIES

Despite knowing that serious human rights violations were almost inevitable, Shell encouraged and solicited the intervention of the Nigerian security forces and the military authorities. In 1993, Shell repeatedly asked the Nigerian government to deploy the army to Ogoniland to prevent protests from disrupting the laying of the pipeline. This resulted in the shooting and injuring of eleven people at Biara on 30 April and the shooting to death of a man at Nonwa on 4 May. According to an internal Shell document, Shell executives even advised the Nigerian military not to release protestors it had detained unless the military received commitments from their community to stop protests, thereby directly soliciting a violation of the human rights of the detainees.

Shell also made general requests for the intervention of military authorities in Ogoniland. Shell managers met senior government and security officials in Abuja on 11 May 1993, after the company had decided to suspend the laying of the pipeline following clashes between protestors and the army. At a meeting with the Inspector-General of Police, “the opportunity was taken to stress the need for extra police presence in strategic locations and offer logistical support (since they are incapable of doing it themselves).” Later the same day, with the Director-General of the intelligence agency, the SSS, Shell reiterated “our requests for support from the police and army.”

The minutes of these meetings show that Shell was actively lobbying the government and the security forces to support them – and was offering “logistical” help in return. Based on their own notes of these meetings, the Shell executives did not raise any concern with the government officials about the recent shooting of unarmed protesters in Ogoniland by the army unit guarding the pipeline.

By the start of the following year, the military authorities had created the ISTF. On 3 March 1994, Shell paid its commander Major Okuntimo, and 25 of his troops, an “honorarium” as a “show of gratitude and motivation for a sustained favourable disposition towards [Shell] in future assignments.”

According to Shell, the payment was related to an operation at Korokoro in late 1993, during which soldiers shot one person following a clash with protestors. The honorarium amount was 20,000 Naira (or $909) which was described as covering the cost of lunches and “special duty allowance”. However, the internal memo implies that Shell expected the military force to conduct “future assignments” in relation to Shell. Shell approved the payment to Major Okuntimo just days after he had opened fire on peaceful protestors outside the Shell HQ in Port Harcourt.

As noted above, the documents released by Shell include the records of three meetings that Brian Anderson had with General Sani Abacha during the crisis. During the first meeting, on 30 April 1994, Anderson reported that he came away from the meeting with the sense that Abacha, “will intervene with either the military or the police.” Brian Anderson said he made it clear to Abacha that Anderson had asked Shell staff, “not to involve either body during the recent problems for fear of escalation and of Shell being accused of hiding behind the forces of law and order, and in fact of being responsible.” However, Anderson’s record of the meeting does not suggest he asked General Abacha not to take the military action that Abacha appeared intent upon, only that Anderson had not wanted Shell staff to involve the military or police in the “recent problems.”

On 5 August 1994, Brian Anderson had another meeting with General Abacha. Despite being aware that Ken Saro-Wiwa and scores of others were now in detention and that many Ogonis had been killed in raids by the ISTF, Anderson’s own notes of the meeting do not refer to these issues at all.

One week after this meeting, and despite knowing that the army was conducting brutally violent operations in Ogoniland, Brian Anderson requested that the military be deployed to guard Shell’s facilities at Bomu in Ogoniland. In a note to his superiors in London and The Hague, Anderson conceded that this request “impinges on our ‘no military protection’ stance to a limited extent.”

However, as the evidence presented in this report makes clear, Shell’s ‘no military protection’ stance was inconsistent at best, and at times appeared little more than a public relations fiction. The company repeatedly sought the intervention of military or security forces in Ogoniland, to protect its equipment and business operations, despite knowing the risks that communities would face.

Moreover, all of the evidence indicates that Shell was well aware that MOSOP has a legitimate grievance and that the environment on which the Ogoni’s were almost completely dependent was in fact devastated by oil pollution. Yet at no point on record did Shell suggest to its various government and military interlocutors alternative ways of dealing with the concerns of the Ogoni people and MOSOP.

EXTRACT ENDS

 

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