29 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Amnesty International has obtained internal documents pointing to complicity by Royal Dutch Shell in crimes committed by the Nigerian military during the 1990s.
The rights group released a report yesterday that alleges that the British-Dutch oil giant and the Nigerian government operated as business partners, having regular meetings to discuss the protection of their interests.
Amnesty International has therefore called for a criminal investigation against UK-Dutch Shell energy giant over its alleged role in human rights abuses by Nigeria’s government during its campaign to crush protests against the company’s work in Ogoniland the 1990s.
In 1993, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) declared that Shell was no longer welcome to operate in Ogoniland over its devastating impact on local soil and environment degradation caused by oil spills and gas flaring.
At the time, protests by the Ogoni people of southeastern Nigeria were taking place in response to years of oil spills at Shell facilities, which devastated their environment.
According to Amnesty International, MOSOP activists faced numerous human rights violations, including the unlawful killing of hundreds of Ogonis, as well as torture and other ill-treatment, including rape, and the destruction of homes and livelihoods.
The rights group said in a report, “That the company was a central player in the events in Ogoniland in the 1990s is indisputable.
“The governments of Nigeria and Shell’s home states, The Netherlands and The UK, should investigate, with a view to prosecuting Shell and or individuals, who were formerly in decision-making or supervisory positions within the company, for potential involvement in crimes linked to human rights violations committed by the Nigerian security forces in Ogoniland in the 1990s.”
Documents obtained by Amnesty show that on October 29, 1990, Shell requested “security protection” to subdue peaceful demonstrations. Over the next two days, police attacked an Ogoni village with guns and grenades, killing at least 80 people, and burning almost 600 homes.
According to the report based on company documents, strategy papers, internal memos and letters to officials, Shell stopped operations in Ogoniland in early 1993 citing security concerns, but subsequently sought ways to re-enter the region and end the MOSOP protests.
Nevertheless, Shell continued to ask for military help in the following years, Amnesty said.
“Shell repeatedly encouraged the Nigerian military and police to take action to deal with community protests when the company knew this put lives at risk.Even when the risks came to fruition, and hundreds of Ogoni women, men and children had been killed or assaulted, Shell went back to the military and asked for their engagement,” the Amnesty report said.
The authors of the report said that on several occasions Shell provided logistical assistance to Nigerian military or police personnel, specifically transport.
The allegations have been known for some time, but thus far had not been substantiated with internal documents.
The rights group has gone through thousands of pages of Shell’s documents and testimony statements. The files show that Shell repeatedly urged the Nigerian army to take action against the protests of the Ogoni community.
According to the organisation, Shell called for military support from senior officials, even after the military forces had killed, tortured or raped many demonstrators.
The directors of Shell in The Hague and London were aware of this, according to Amnesty.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, Shell in Nigeria denied it was involved in human rights violations. “We have always denied, in the strongest possible terms, the allegations made in this tragic case,” the statement read.
“Amnesty International’s allegations are false and without merit. Shell did not collude with the authorities to suppress community unrest and in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence in Nigeria,” the statement added.
Amnesty has compiled a case to start a lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell.