Amnesty accuses Shell of murder, rape, torture of Nigerians

This February 2017 video about Nigeria is called The Case Against Shell: ‘The Hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa Showed the True Cost of Oil’.

From Amnesty International:

Investigate Shell for complicity in murder, rape and torture

28 November 2017, 00:01 UTC

  • Massive cache of internal documents and other evidence points to Shell’s complicity in horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military in the 1990s
  • New Amnesty International report calls for a criminal investigation

Amnesty International is calling on Nigeria, the UK and the Netherlands to launch investigations into Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, over its role in a swathe of horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military government in the oil-producing Ogoniland region in the 1990s.

The organization has released a ground-breaking review of thousands of pages of internal company documents and witness statements, as well as Amnesty International’s own archive from the period. Some of the key Shell documents are available here.

The Nigerian military’s campaign to silence the Ogoni people’s protests against Shell’s pollution led to widespread and serious human rights violations, many of which also amounted to criminal offences.

“The evidence we have reviewed shows that Shell repeatedly encouraged the Nigerian military to deal with community protests, even when it knew the horrors this would lead to – unlawful killings, rape, torture, the burning of villages,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

“In the midst of this brutal crackdown Shell even provided the military with material support, including transport, and in at least one instance paid a military commander notorious for human rights violations. That it has never answered for this is an outrage.

“It is indisputable that Shell played a key role in the devastating events in Ogoniland in the 1990s, but we now believe that there are grounds for a criminal investigation. Bringing the massive cache of evidence together was the first step in bringing Shell to justice. We will now be preparing a criminal file to submit to the relevant authorities, with a view to prosecution.”

The Nigerian government’s campaign against the Ogoni people culminated in the execution, 22 years ago, of nine Ogoni men, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, the writer and activist who led the protests. The executions followed a blatantly unfair trial and sparked a global outcry. In June 2017 the widows of four of the men filed a writ against Shell in the Netherlands, accusing the company of complicity in their deaths.

An individual or company can be held criminally responsible for a crime if they encourage, enable, exacerbate or facilitate it, even if they were not direct actors. For example, knowledge of the risks that corporate conduct could contribute to a crime, or a close connection to the perpetrators, could lead to criminal liability. Amnesty International’s new report “A Criminal Enterprise?” makes the case that Shell was involved in crimes committed in Ogoniland in this way.

In the 1990s Shell was the single most important company in Nigeria. During the Ogoni crisis, Shell and the Nigerian government operated as business partners, and had regular meetings to discuss the protection of their interests.

Internal memos and minutes from meetings show Shell lobbying senior government officials for military support, even after the security forces had carried out mass killings of protesters. They also show that on several occasions Shell provided logistical or financial assistance to military or police personnel when it was well aware that they had been involved in murderous attacks on defenceless villagers.

Shell has always denied that it was involved in the human rights violations, but there has never been an investigation into the allegations.

What Shell knew

Protests in Ogoniland were led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), in response to years of Shell oil spills which had devastated the environment. In January 1993 MOSOP declared that Shell was no longer welcome to operate in the region, forcing the company to leave temporarily citing security concerns.

While Shell publicly sought to downplay the environmental damage it had caused, internal documents reveal that senior staff knew MOSOP had a legitimate grievance, and were highly concerned about the poor state of pipelines.

On 29 October 1990, Shell requested “security protection” from an elite paramilitary police unit called the Mobile Police at its facility in Umuechem village, where peaceful protests were taking place. Over the next two days, the Mobile Police attacked the village with guns and grenades, killing at least 80 people and torching 595 houses. Many of the bodies were dumped in a nearby river.

From at least this point on, Shell executives would have understood the risks associated with calling for intervention from the security forces. Despite this, there is clear evidence that Shell continued to do just that.

For example, in 1993, shortly after it had left Ogoniland, Shell repeatedly asked the Nigerian government to deploy the army to Ogoniland to protect a new pipeline which was being laid by contractors. This resulted in the shooting of 11 people at a village called Biara on 30 April, and the shooting to death of a man at Nonwa village on 4 May.

Less than a week after the shooting at Nonwa, Shell executives had a series of meetings with senior government and security officials.

The minutes of these meetings show that, rather than raising concerns about the shootings of unarmed protesters, Shell was actively lobbying for the government and the security forces to allow them to continue work in Ogoniland – and was offering “logistical” help in return.

Naming communities

On 13 December 1993, shortly after a coup had brought General Sani Abacha to power, Shell wrote to the new military administrator of Rivers State, naming specific communities where protests against the company had occurred and requesting assistance.

One month later, in January 1994, the government ordered the establishment of the ISTF. Later that year the violence against the Ogonis reached its horrifying peak when the ISTF carried out raids on Ogoni villages, killing, raping, torturing and detaining people.

According to an Amnesty International report released on 24 June 1994 some 30 villages had been attacked and “more than 50 members of the Ogoni ethnic group [were] reported to have been extra-judicially executed.” The ISTF Commander boasted of these raids on television, and they were widely reported on. In July that year, the Dutch ambassador told Shell that the army had killed some 800 Ogonis.

Ken Saro-Wiwa in the crosshairs

Internal Shell documents show that Shell’s then-Chairperson in Nigeria, Brian Anderson, had at least three meetings with General Sani Abacha in 1994-5, at the height of the Ogoni crisis. On 30 April 1994, Anderson raised “the problem of the Ogonis and Ken Saro-Wiwa” describing the economic consequences of MOSOP’s opposition.

Ken Saro-Wiwa was already in the government crosshairs, and in raising him at this meeting Anderson recklessly encouraged action against him. Anderson reported that he came away from the meeting with the sense that Abacha, “will intervene with either the military or the police.”

Indeed, within a month Ken Saro-Wiwa and other MOSOP leaders had been arrested, baselessly accused of involvement in the murder of four prominent traditional leaders, and detained incommunicado. They were tortured and ill-treated in detention, before being found guilty in a sham trial and executed in November 1995.

Documents reviewed by Amnesty International show that Shell knew that it was highly likely that Ken Saro-Wiwa would be found guilty and executed. Still, it continued to discuss ways to deal with the “Ogoni problem” with the government. It is hard to see how Shell was not encouraging, even endorsing, the government’s action against Ken Saro-Wiwa and others.

Amnesty International is calling for investigations to be launched in the three relevant jurisdictions: Nigeria, where the crimes occurred, as well as the UK and the Netherlands, where Shell is headquartered.

“In his final words to the tribunal that convicted him, Ken Saro-Wiwa warned that Shell would face its own day in court. We are determined to make this happen,” said Audrey Gaughran.

“Justice must be done – for Ken Saro-Wiwa and for the thousands of others whose lives were ruined by Shell’s destruction of Ogoniland.”

Amnesty International is calling for investigations to be launched in the three relevant jurisdictions: Nigeria, where the crimes occurred, as well as the UK and the Netherlands, where Shell is headquartered.


Internal company documents, including faxes, letters and emails sent between different Shell offices, show that responsibility for Shell’s actions during the Ogoni crisis do not solely rest with staff based in the country. These documents demonstrate that at all times, Shell’s directors based in The Hague and London were fully aware of what was happening in Nigeria.

One memo refers to the directors’ approval of a detailed strategy drawn up by Shell Nigeria in December 1994 for how the company should respond to criticism in the wake of the Ogoni protests. In March 1995 Shell executives in London had a meeting with representatives of the Nigerian military in London, at which they agreed to “meet from time to time” to share information.

Nigerians protest against Shell oil pollution

This Amnesty International video from the Netherlands says about itself:

28 January 2010

Campaign video on the protest against the oil pollution in Nigeria caused by Shell. With a reaction from Celestine AkpoBari, community officer Social Action.

By Tife Owolabi:

August 11, 2017 / 12:13 PM

Protesters storm Shell crude flow station in Niger Delta

AKUKU-TORU, Nigeria (Reuters) – Hundreds of Nigerian protesters stormed a crude oil flow station owned by Shell in the restive Niger Delta on Friday demanding jobs and infrastructure development, a Reuters witness said.

The protesters complained they were not benefiting from oil production in their area, a common refrain in the impoverished swampland that produces most of Nigeria’s oil. They also demanded an end to oil pollution in the area.

Soldiers and security guards did not disperse the crowd as it entered the Belema Flow Station in Rivers State, which feeds oil into Shell‘s Bonny export terminal.

But the army sent reinforcements after protesters said they would stay at the facility for two weeks.

“I am a graduate for about eight years without a job,” said Anthony Bouye, one of the protest leaders. “Shell won’t employ me despite us having so much wealth in our backyard.” …

Militant attacks on oil facilities have largely stopped since the government started last year talks with community leaders to address grievances of poverty and lack of development in the neglected region.

But protests still flare as locals complain they do not benefit from the energy wealth, the dominant source of Nigerian government revenue.

Nigerian widows accuse Shell of murder

Esther Kiobel, widow of Barinem Kiobel, one of the Ogoni 9, Amnesty International photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Shell charged in the Netherlands with murders in Nigeria

Today, 11:53

Four Nigerian widows accuse Shell in the Netherlands for complicity in the execution of their spouses. They demand apologies and compensation.

The four men were part of the Ogoni 9, nine human rights activists hanged during the military dictatorship in Nigeria for murder after what many consider to be a kangaroo court trial.

One of those executed was the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa. He and others of the Ogoni 9 were opposed to Shell’s oil production in Ogoniland, Nigeria, which, according to them, [and not only them] led to environmental pollution.

Amnesty: enough evidence

Amnesty International supports the widows. According to Amnesty, there is enough evidence for Shell involvement. Thus, Shell, they say, has asked the government for security forces to suppress protests, while Shell knew that this would turn out to be human rights violations. And after the Ogoni 9 were captured, Shell did not talk about their fate.

There are also two people who say that the government wanted to bribe them to accuse the Ogoni 9 as witnesses. A Shell lawyer, they say, was present at the attempted bribery.

Internal documents

Amnesty also said that it had seen internal Shell documents that showed that the company knew that the trial against the Ogoni 9 was unfair. Nevertheless, the company kept its close ties with the Nigerian government. …

It is not clear whether a Dutch court will consider the case. Previously, one of the Nigerian widows tried to have Shell on trial in the United States. However, the US Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that a US court could not judge the case because there were no US Americans involved.

Nigerian oil workers on strike

This video from the USA says about itself:

ExxonMobil‘s Dirty Secrets From Indonesia to Nigeria to D.C.: Steve Coll on “Private Empire”

7 May 2012

We continue our conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Steve Coll, author of the exhaustive book, “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power“. He examines the controversial role ExxonMobil has played in Afghanistan and Indonesia, where it operated lucrative gas fields amidst a bloody war for independence. Coll also discusses the corporate giant’s involvement in the controversial natural gas drilling process known as “fracking“, and the role of its lobbyists could play in the upcoming U.S. election.

From the World Socialist Web Site today:

Nigerian oil workers strike Exxon Mobil

Strikers at Exxon Mobil Nigeria extended their strike on Monday with three days of strike action involving the Petroleum and Natural Gas Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) national membership. The strike against mass sackings has also spread to Chevron, Shell and Eni.

One hundred and fifty workers have been sacked, over half of them PENGASSAN members, at Exxon Mobil. Strikes by Exxon workers in Nigeria at the end of 2016 impacted output, leading to weeks-long loading delays.

Shell corruption in Nigeria and MI6

This video from Britain says about itself:

Shell admits dealing with money launderer – BBC News

11 April 2017

The oil company Shell has admitted that they dealt with a convicted money-launderer when negotiating access to a vast oil field off the coast of Nigeria in 2011. Shell went ahead with the deal even though they were on probation for their involvement in a separate corruption case in Nigeria. Our business editor Simon Jack has this report.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Are MI6 and top European politicians linked to Shell‘s nasty African swindle?

Friday 14th April 2017

YOU may have seen reports of how “oil giant Shell took part in a vast bribery scheme that robbed the Nigerian people of over a billion dollars.”

The story comes from an exposé by dogged and admirable anti-corruption campaigners Global Witness.

I haven’t the column space to tell the whole tale here but the very short version is this.

In 2011, Shell joined with Italian firm ENI to buy a big oilfield from the Nigerian government called OPL 245 for £1.1 billion.

But the money went to Dan Etete, Nigeria’s former minister of petroleum, instead of Nigeria’s public funds.

Shell had a couple of former MI6 officers working as their negotiators in Nigeria. Emails from these men and other evidence shows Shell knew full well most of the £1.1 billion would go to Etete.

The company also believed the deal would “deliver significant revenues to GLJ” – meaning Goodluck Jonathan, then Nigerian president. Shell’s ex-MI6 officers talk about money from the deal “paying people off” in Nigeria.

Global Witness says evidence shows “Shell executives knowingly participated in a bribery scheme” where a billion pounds supposedly going to Nigeria’s people for an oil licence actually flowed to Nigerian politicians.

What I would add to this story is this: if this is proved to be corruption, Shell’s work involved Western, as well as Nigerian government and political figures.

So why did MI6 not uncover this scheme? Perhaps because its former agents participated in it.

Why do Dutch and British governments not push regulation and investigation into the Anglo-Dutch firm Shell to stop possible corruption? Possibly because Dutch and British government figures sit on the Shell board.

In 2011, former senior British diplomat John Kerr and former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok sat on the board. Kok was, until 2002, a Labour prime minister who led his party on a business-friendly “third way” before Tony Blair. He ended up with a seat on the board of a friendly business.

In 2012, Kok was replaced by Nigel SheinwaldTony Blair’s former foreign office adviser. Sheinwald, a top Foreign Office official, advised Blair from 2003, helping with the disastrous occupation of Iraq. So he has experience with messing up oil states. Both Kok and Sheinwald ran Shell’s “corporate social responsibility committee.”

Kok and Sheinwald were in charge of “social responsibility” while Shell signed this irresponsible deal and Kok and Sheinwald refused to investigate it.

Shell deny wrongdoing, but Italian and Dutch authorities are investigating. If they prove corruption, the company behind the scandal will have been aided by top European, as well as Nigerian, politicians and officials.

You can access the full Global Witness story here:

Shell in Nigerian corruption scandal

This video says about itself:

9 April 2017

New leaked emails put Shell at centre of billion dollar bribery scheme involving some of the most powerful officials in Nigeria.

Shell’s most senior executives were told payments for a massive oil block would go to a convicted money-launderer, and then likely flow to then President Goodluck Jonathan and others, but still went through with the deal. Share to expose.

Find out more and see the full investigation: here.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC:

‘Shell bigwigs knew of bribery in Nigeria’


Internal emails indicate corruption around an oil deal in Nigeria. Shell CEO Van Beurden was wiretapped by the Dutch financial police.

Joris Kooiman

April 11, 2017

There are very strong indications that Shell managers knew that the oil company paid a convicted money launderer hundreds of millions of euros to get a billion euro concession in Nigeria. It was clear that some of the money would be used for bribes.

The Italian business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore and the US news site BuzzFeed conclude based on internal e-mails, which they have received from anti-corruption organization Global Witness, that the company management was aware of corruption. The documents published online, which refer specifically to bribery and payments to a company of a convicted former minister of oil affairs, confirm those conclusions. …

The revelations come at a painful moment for Shell. Next week Thursday in Milan a hearing will begin which will determine whether there wil be a court case. Besides Shell also Italian energy company Eni is in the dock.

In 2011, Shell and Eni paid the Nigerian government $ 1.3 billion for the rights to the oil field OPL 245, on the Nigerian coast, with an estimated presence of over 9 billion barrels of oil. Italian and Dutch authorities suspected for some time that corruption was involved, something which Shell has always denied. Early last year the [financial police] FIOD because of this raided the Shell headquarters in The Hague.

Ben van Beurden bugged

It now appears that the investigation service that day has tapped telephone conversations of Ben van Beurden. In these, the current chief executive of Shell refers to the existence of potentially incriminating material. …

The suspicion is that much of the billion amount for the concession Shell paid has disappeared into the pockets of Dan Etete, a former oil minister who was sentenced in absentia in France in 2007 for money laundering.

From the publications of Buzz Feed and Il Sole 24 Ore it now turns out that the Shell top directors were aware of this risk. Writes former member of the Board Malcolm Brinded on October 11, 2010, three years after the conviction of Etete, in an e-mail to colleagues that the deal “has the advantage that Malabu will receive more than 1 billion.”

Malabu is Etete’s company who as oil minister in the late nineties granted a deepwater concession for just $ 20 million to Malabu. So, to himself. The Nigerian government annulled the concession, after which the rights were subject of a long legal battle.

To get the deal Shell employed two former employees of the British secret service MI6. In mutual emails they discussed the possibility to arrange a British visa for “E” and the need to show that they regard him as a “potential partner”. They discuss a hunting trip for Etete in Europe to build trust.

In another e-mail bribery is mentioned explicitly. “Mrs. E says E claims thatonly 40m of the 300m we will provide is for him. The rest is for bribing people.”

Nobel laureate Soyinka leaves USA in anti-Trump protest

This video from the USA says about itself:

28 October 2016

I will tear up my American green card if Donald Trump wins the American election says Prof. Wole Soyinka, first African Nobel Laureate.

From the Dhaka Tribune in Bangladesh:

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka relocating to South Africa

April 02, 2017

Nigerian born poet and playwright Wole Soyinka is leaving America and moving to South Africa to join the University of Johannesburg as distinguished visiting professor, reports Africanews.

Soyinka won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986 and spent the last 20 years in the United States as a scholar in residence at New York University’s Institute of African Affairs.

In the wake of Trump’s election, however, Soyinka tore up his green card having decided he could no longer live in America.

“The horror of it all was to see these hundreds of thousands of people in the process of applauding when he [Trump] outlined his feelings. Then I just said: I do not want to live here,” he said.

Many in South Africa have high hopes for Soyinka to guide and lead them in their national debate on the decolonisation and the Africanisation of knowledge as the country attempts to overhaul its Eurocentric higher education system.

Nigerian women bobsleigh team to Olympics?

This music video from Jamaica says about itself:

The Bobsled Song

13 February 2014

Song by Sidney Mills & Jon Notar, and Groove Guild.

Download the Bobsled Song … and press play the exact moment our Jamaican Bobsled Team begins their big race … . You’ll be amazed how the song syncs perfectly with the rhythms of the bobsled track itself.

After the Jamaican men’s bobsleigh team, this news from the BBC:

The Nigerian bobsleigh team racing towards history

29 March 2017 Last updated at 20:52 BST

Fighting freezing winds, bone-breaking speed and up to five g-force, the Nigerian women’s bobsleigh team are training hard in western Canada.

Driver Seun Adigun and brakewomen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga are all former professional track and field athletes.

Their practice times on the ice run are fast – and they are aiming for a historic first. No bobsleigh team from Nigeria or any country in Africa has competed at the Olympics.

The team’s dream is on the verge of coming true. The Nigerian bobsleigh team only needs to complete three more competitions to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

This video says about itself:

9 December 2016

Nigerian track stars Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere are determined to make history by being the first bobsled team to represent the African continent at the Olympics.

Shell pollution in Nigeria, trial in England?

This video says about itself:

13 November 2014

Court documents expose Shell‘s false claims on Nigeria oil spills. Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International‘s Director of Global Issues explains the significance of these documents and the potential repercussions.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Judges to rule on reckoning for dirty Shell

Wednesday 25th January 2017

WIll despoilers face court for Nigeria pollution?

THE High Court will decide tomorrow whether rural communities in Nigeria devastated by oil spills will have their cases against Shell UK Limited heard in Britain — in what could become landmark victories.

If the ruling is made in the communities’ favour, it would mean that other transnational firms based in Britain can then be held to account for cases of human rights abuse overseas.

But Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), argues that the case falls outside British jurisdiction.

Rights charity Amnesty International said that communities affected by oil pollution regularly face “insurmountable challenges” in Nigeria when trying to take Shell to court.

Two separate legal actions have been brought against Shell on behalf of more than 42,000 people from the Ogale and Bille communities in the Niger delta in Nigeria’s southern Rivers State, whose lives have been blighted by the pollution caused by oil spills.

People living in the delta have been affected by hundreds of oil spills each year, and this pollution has been going on for decades, Amnesty has reported.

It says that residents’ “environment and livelihoods were destroyed by oil spills.”

Under Nigerian law SPDC, the largest oil operator in the region, is liable for clean-up operations, whatever the cause.

But many contractors have been failing to do so properly, according to a report published by Amnesty in 2015.

The charity reported that women, men and children living in the delta have to drink, cook with and wash in polluted water.

Pollution has also entered the food chain as land to grow crops has been contaminated as well as the fish that are eaten.

The effect on the health of the affected communities is said to include breathing problems and skin lesions.

Sarah Shoraka of the global oil and environment campaign group Platform London said: “Shell continues a colonial tradition in which fossil fuels are extracted in the Niger delta and shipped to North America and Europe.

“It acts with impunity destroying health and livelihoods. Shell is a UK company and must be held to account for its human rights abuses in the UK courts.”

Shell has been pumping oil from the delta since 1958, when Nigeria was still a British colony.

Save gorillas in Nigeria, petition

This 2012 video is called Cross River Gorillas, Endangered, Caught on Camera.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

At any minute, bulldozers could plow through one of the last rainforests in Nigeria.

As the heavy machinery tears its way through thousands of acres of lush, ancient forest, they will demolish some of the only remaining habitat of the highly endangered Cross River gorilla.

There are just 300 Cross River gorillas left in the wild – they might not survive a blow like this.

Help protect the last Cross River gorillas: sign the petition to stop destructive superhighway construction.

For thousands of years, the Ekuri people have lived in and worked cooperatively to maintain this beautiful rainforest – one of the last remaining in densely populated Nigeria. But now Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has plans to build a massive superhighway that would destroy this precious wild place.

Cutting through the heart of Cross River State, it would destroy a national park, adjoining forest reserves, indigenous communities, and vulnerable wildlife. What’s worse, the plans call for approximately 6 miles of “buffer” on either side.

To put this in perspective, the average Nigerian interstate highway has approximately 300 feet of buffer on either side. That means that a 12-mile swath of ancient forest, extending the entire length of the 160-mile highway – 100 times the usual area – will be bulldozed for absolutely no reason.

Governor Ayade is pushing hard for construction to start immediately but Nigeria’s federal government has the power to protect this land. Please, sign the petition to Nigeria’s President Buhari and help stop the Cross River State superhighway before it’s too late for this precious rainforest, the Ekuri people, and wildlife like gorillas, elephants, and chimpanzees.

I know you care about wildlife and wild places, which is why I’m writing you about this urgent crisis.

The superhighway would annihilate the habitat of hundreds of endangered and vulnerable species, including many found nowhere else on earth. And the livelihood of 180 indigenous communities will be completely destroyed. A powerful movement is building to stop it. The Ekuri Initiative has already organized the support of 253,000 people to take action to protect their forests – will you add your voice before it’s too late?

Thank you for all that you do to protect wildlife and wild places around the world.


John F. Calvelli
Executive Vice President, Public Affairs
Wildlife Conservation Society

Irreplaceable – Cross River National Park, Nigeria. By BirdLife News, 8 Nov 2016: here.

Ray of hope for endangered Cross River Gorilla in West Africa Forest: here.

Rare Cross River gorilla still faces serious threat: here.

The link between hoarding disused mobile phones and the decimation of Grauer gorilla habitats is explored in a new paper: here.

The critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla has recently lost genetic diversity and has experienced an increase in harmful mutations, according to researchers who sequenced 11 genomes from eastern gorilla specimens collected up to 100 years ago, and compared these with genomes from present-day individuals: here.