Shell Faces Charges of Funding Murder and Rape in Nigeria

In the 1990s, Nigeria was in turmoil as activists attempted to preventthe expansion of Shell’s oil projects. These groups, especially thoseorganized by the indigenous Ogoni, faced horrific repression from Nigeria’s military government. Heinous crimes ranging from rapeand torture to indiscriminate murder affected thousands of people during this period.

It has long been suggested that Shell, a Dutch and UK multinational, played a key role in these events. However, it was not until recently — thanks to Amnesty International — that the depth of Shell’s involvement was made public.

In 1993, Shell put an end to is operations in Nigeria citing security concerns. For a time, activists felt that they had succeeded in their mission to prevent environmental disaster and the exploitation of their land.But Shellremained adamant on returning to the oil-rich African nation and began aggressively seeking new ways to re-enter Nigeria.

At the time, oil production accounted for over 95 percent of Nigeria’s foreign income. For Shell,maintaining the flow of oil was crucial for profits,considering that Nigeria wasthe company’s single largest source of fossil fuels in the world. Both entities had a shared interest: toneutralize anti-Shell movements so drilling and pumping could resume.

Newly assembled evidence from Amnesty International shows how Shell not only encouraged and incentivized a brutal crackdown on these activist groups, but alsohow the multinational oil giant even appeared to control death squads.

Not long after withdrawing from Nigeria, Shell began building new pipelines through Ogoniland. Worried that demonstrators would interfere with construction,the company asked the government to deploy troops to protect their workers. Internal memos show that the company was undoubtedly aware that this could lead to violence — and it did.

It didn’t stop there, however. Later in the year, the Nigerian military began a campaign aimed at sowing distrust between various Ogoniland villages. This schemeincludedvicious community raids, where roughly 1,000 people were murdered, many were raped, others tortured and 30,000 ended up displaced.The tactic was clumsily carried out, however, as survivorswenton to share accounts of the attackers wearing army uniforms and using military weaponry.

After a military coup in late 1993, the new president, General Sani Abacha, formed a paramilitary group — the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, or ISTF — with the sole purpose of putting an end to anti-Shell activism. The group’s leader boasted of the need to mercilessly crush the Ogoni and made good on his word, leading a campaign of terror against dozens of villages in 1994.

While much of what has been mentioned so far is not wholly new information, what is new is the revelation that Shell was awareness ofthese operations — andactively encouraged them.

Internal memos show that, at least on several occasions, Shell provided logistical support including transportation for anti-activist troops. The oil multinational also provided direct funding to the ISTF paramilitary group to help continue their terror campaigns — and this came shortly after the group’s leader opened fire on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators.

Other documents also show that Nigerian security forces were essentially operating under direct order from Shell leadership, forces accused of their share of human rights violations.

Amnesty International says that, after performing this exhaustive review of documents, eye-witness reports and more, it is drafting a petition for criminal prosecution against Shell. Though the oil giant has, unsurprisingly, entirely denied any wrongdoing in Nigeria, the human rights group is confident that Shell’s day of reckoning may finally be near.

Take Action!

If you believe Shell deserves to be subjected to a criminal investigation and prosecution, please consider adding your name to this Care2 petition to make your voice heard!

Photo Credit: Alf van Beem / Wikimedia Commons

63 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming6 months ago

Noted

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming8 months ago

Disgusting behaviour .

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Lesa D
Lesa D8 months ago

#226 petition signed...

thank you Llowell...

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner9 months ago

This is what Trump the terrorist and his circle of terrorist Republicans support.

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Joan E
Joan E9 months ago

Horrible.

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