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Shell accused of complicity in Nigerian murders

Esther Kiobel poses with a picture of her late husband, one of nine men executed by Nigeria’s military government after a peaceful uprising against Shell in 1995. Photograph: Amnesty International

By John Donovan

I heard from a major news organisation that Esther Kiobel brought up my name several times during an interview at the Dutch court hearing yesterday, kindly expressing her thanks for my help.

Esther approached me after the US Supreme Court decision that thwarted on jurisdiction grounds her attempts to sue Shell in the USA for complicity in the murder of her husband, Dr Barinem Kiobel. It took over a decade of litigation to arrive at that decision.

I suggested that she should sue Shell in its home country and introduced her to the Dutch law firm that now represents her.  I have also cooperated with Amnesty International who thankfully has taken up her case. I continue to advise Esther.

From what Esther tells me today, it seems Shell is adopting the same predictable legal loophole tactics in the Dutch courts, on jurisdiction and claim time limit grounds, in the hope of preventing the case being heard by an impartial corruption free court.

Shell would obviously prefer to dodge the litigation altogether, but if that is not possible, would prefer the case is heard in Nigeria where the judiciary is notoriously corrupt.

After several decades of plunder, pollution and sponsoring corruption in Nigeria, Shell has immense influence in the country, boasting that its spies have been successfully infiltrated throughout the Nigerian government.

Current Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden has revealed that former MI6 people hired by Shell have operated in Nigeria in connection with the corrupt OPL 245 oil deal.

Under the circumstances, the prospect of Esther Kiobel and her fellow widow claimants obtaining justice in Nigerian courts is almost zero.

One aspect that stood out yesterday was the revelation that Shell has already settled with some of the Ogoni 9 claimants, including relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa, but not with Esther and her fellow widow claimants.

I can only imagine how that makes them feel.

Injustice piled upon injustice and grief.

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