Documents Reveal Shell Paid Nigerian Military to Suppress Protests

Shell oil photo

Image: Lee Jordan via flickr

Interesting news from The Guardian this week: oil giant Shell worked with the Nigerian military and with mobile police to suppress protests against its oil activities in the 1990s, according to court documents that were held secret for years.

Most of the resistance came from Ogoniland in the Niger Delta, homeland of the famous activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in 1995. The oil-rich Delta has suffered extensive environmental damage as a result of crude oil extraction by several companies (Shell being the largest) that allow an Exxon Valdez-sized spill to occur annually.The Guardian reports that court documents now show that Shell regularly paid the military to stop peaceful protests against the pollution, and helped to plan raids on villages that were thought to oppose the company. explains more:

In addition to the confidential memos, faxes, and other documents, witnesses formerly employed by Shell have made sworn statements about the collusion. An ex-Shell police officer testified in a sworn deposition that Nigerian soldiers, en route to Ogoni stayed at Shell facilities and used the Shell police bus for transport. The witness also saw the heavily armed Mobile Police Force (MOPOL) being transported in Shell helicopters, who also stayed at the Bonny terminal. Another ex-Shell police officer who also serves with MOPOL recounts his superior being given a bulky envelope by Shell staff, which he assumes contained the cash allowances distributed to the soldiers shortly after. He is told by an officer that the Ogoni are being "taught a lesson" for resisting Shell and by another officer that they should not "leave any of the persons alive."

More from the Guardian:

Among the documents was a 1994 letter from Shell agreeing to pay a unit of the Nigerian army to retrieve a truck, an action that left one Ogoni man dead and two wounded. Shell said it was making the payment "as a show of gratitude and motivation for a sustained favourable disposition in future assignments".

Brian Anderson, the director of Shell Nigeria during those years, said in 2009, after the New York settlement, the company had "played no part in any military operations against the Ogoni people, or any other communities in the Niger Delta, and we have never been approached for financial or logistical support for any action".

But he conceded that Shell had paid the military on two occasions.

More on Shell in Nigeria:
Shell Emissions Up by 9% Last Year, Natural Gas Flaring Up 32%
$3.94 A Gallon -- Where Is All the Money Going?
Shell Denies Allegations in Nigeria, Where an Exxon Valdez-sized Spill Occurs Annually
Wikileaks Reveals Shell Oil Has Agents Installed in Nigerian Government

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