Nige­rian wid­ows seek to sue Shell

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - World News -

THE HAGUE. - Four Nige­rian women are tak­ing le­gal ac­tion in the Dutch courts against An­glo-Dutch oil gi­ant Shell, ac­cus­ing it of com­plic­ity in the 1990s ex­e­cu­tions of their hus­bands by the Nige­rian mil­i­tary, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said yes­ter­day.

The civil case has been brought by Es­ther Kio­bel, the wi­dow of Barinem Kio­bel, who was hanged in 1995 along with writer and cam­paigner Ken Saro Wiwa and seven oth­ers.

Three other wid­ows are join­ing the ac­tion in The Hague.

A writ was set to be placed be­fore a civil court in The Hague yes­ter­day al­leg­ing that Shell was com­plicit “in the un­law­ful arrest, de­ten­tion and ex­e­cu­tion of nine men who were hanged by Nige­ria’s mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment in the 1990s,” Amnesty said in a state­ment.

Saro-Wiwa, pres­i­dent and founder of the Move­ment for the Sur­vival of the Ogoni Peo­ple (MOSOP), and eight fel­low ac­tivists were ex­e­cuted on Novem­ber 10, 1995 af­ter a mil­i­tary tri­bunal con­victed them of the murder of four tra­di­tional Ogoni chiefs.

The ex­e­cu­tions pro­voked a global out­cry and led to the sus­pen­sion of Nige­ria from the Com­mon­wealth, but was re-ad­mit­ted with the re­turn of civil rule in 1999.

Shell was al­leged to have helped in the arrest of the men, who had sought to peace­fully dis­rupt oil devel­op­ment in the re­gion be­cause of health and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts.

“Shell has been dodg­ing ac­count­abil­ity for its com­plic­ity in these deaths for more than 20 years but now, thanks to Es­ther Kio­bel’s de­ter­mi­na­tion and brav­ery in tak­ing on this cor­po­rate Go­liath, the past is fi­nally catch­ing up with it,” said Au­drey Gaugh­ran, se­nior di­rec­tor of re­search at Amnesty.

Af­ter her hus­band’s death, Kio­bel fled to Benin in 1998 and then moved to the United States where she still lives.

She had sought with oth­ers to pur­sue her case through the Amer­i­can courts, but in 2013 the US Supreme Court ruled that the Amer­i­can jus­tice sys­tem did not have ju­ris­dic­tion over the case.

Amnesty is now hop­ing the court in The Hague will agree to hear the case, although a de­ci­sion on whether it will go ahead could still be some months off.

The Ogoni move­ment was set up in 1990 to fight against pol­lu­tion and the de­struc­tion of the ecosys­tem of the 500,000-strong Ogoni com­mu­nity, which lives on an oil-rich par­cel of land on the north­ern edge of the Niger Delta.

In 2015 a Dutch ap­peals court ruled that four Nige­rian farm­ers de­mand­ing com­pen­sa­tion and a clean-up in four heav­ily-pol­luted Niger Delta vil­lages can bring a case against the en­ergy gi­ant in the Nether­lands.

A 2011 re­port by the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme found that decades of oil pol­lu­tion in Ogo­ni­land re­gion may re­quire the world’s big­gest ever clean-up. - AFP.

Es­ther Kio­bel

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