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June 14, 2009
Secret papers 'show how Shell targeted Nigeria oil protests'
By Andy Rowell
Documents seen by The IoS support claims energy giant enlisted help of country's military government
Serious questions over Shell Oil's alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Nigeria emerged last night after confidential internal documents and court statements revealed how the energy giant enlisted the help of the country'sbrutal former military government to deal with protesters.The documents, seen by the
, support allegations that Shell helped to provide Nigerian police and military withlogistical support, and aided security sweeps of the oil-rich Niger Delta. Earlier this month Shell agreed to pay $15.5m(£9.6m) in a "humanitarian settlement" on the eve of a highly embarrassing US lawsuit.One of the allegations was that Shell was complicit in the regime's execution of civilians. The Anglo-Dutch firm deniesany wrongdoing and said it settled to help "reconciliation". But the documents contain detailed allegations of the extentto which Shell is said to have co-opted the Nigerian military to protect its interests.The legal settlement came 14 years after the Abacha government hanged nine protesters, including Ken Saro-Wiwa,the environmentalist and writer, after a charade of a trial in 1995. Saro-Wiwa led a successful campaign against Shellin his Niger Delta homeland, even forcing the company to quit Ogoniland in 1993. The campaign focused onenvironmental devastation and demanded a greater share of oil revenues for his community. As the campaign grew,the Ogoni suffered a brutal backlash that left an estimated 2,000 dead and 30,000 homeless. The documents claimthere was systematic collusion with the military and Mobile Police Force (MPF), known as the "Kill and Go". Shell hasalways denied this but is believed to have settled in court as a result of the embarrassing contents.In one document written in May 1993, the oil company wrote to the local governor asking for the "usual assistance" asthe Ogoni expanded their campaign. There was a stand-off between the Ogoni and the US contractor Willbros, whichwas laying a pipeline. Nigerian military were called in, resulting in at least one death.Days later, Shell met the director general of the state security services to "reiterate our request for support from thearmy and police". In a confidential note Shell suggested: "We will have to encourage follow-through into real actionpreferably on an industry rather than just Shell basis". The Nigerian regime responded by sending in the InternalSecurity Task Force, a military unit led by Colonel Paul Okuntimo, a brutal soldier, widely condemned by human rightsgroups, whose men allegedly raped pregnant women and girls and who tortured at will. Okuntimo boasted of knowingmore than 200 ways to kill a person.In October 1993, Okuntimo was sent into Ogoni with Shell personnel to inspect equipment. The stand-off that followedleft at least one Ogoni protester dead. A hand-written Shell note talked of "entertaining 26 armed forces personnel for lunch" and preparing "normal special duty allowances" for the soldiers. Shell is also accused of involvement with the
The Independent: Secret papers 'show how Shell targeted Nigeria oil protests'http://license.icopyright.net/user/viewFreeUse.act?fuid=MzgyNTM0Nw...1 of 26/16/2009 10:23 AM