US CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST ROYAL DUTCH PETROLEUM AND SHELL TRANSPORT, P.L.C., ("SHELL") IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, RELATING TO SHELL’S OIL OPERATIONS IN OGONILAND, AN AREA LOCATED IN THE NIGER RIVER DELTA AREA OF NIGERIA.
On September 20, 2002, fourteen individual plaintiffs including Mr Charles Wiwa, the nephew of the late Nobel Prize Laureate, Mr Ken Saro-Wiwa, filed a class action complaint against Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport, p.l.c., ("Shell") in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York charging violations of customary international law under the federal Alien Tort Claims Act relating to Shell’s oil operations in Ogoniland, an area located in the Niger River delta area of Nigeria.
Click here to access the Class Action Complaint: http://www.bergermontague.com/case-summary.cfm?id=62
A Judge decided early in 2004 that the plaintiffs case had sufficient merit to proceed and as a result Sir Philip Watts and Sir Mark Moody-Stuart were deposed in the UK in April 2004.
Some related newspaper reports are accessible below.
Mail on Sunday: Shell chief 'had a private army'
Daily Times: Shell's corrupt shell game in Nigeria
The Observer: UK firms face lawsuits as Watts quits ICC post
London Evening Standard: Shell facing court over 'rights abuses'
The Independent: Shell faces human rights grilling
BBC2 TV “Newsnight”: Oil gangs threaten Nigerian unity: “The Niger Delta is, effectively, America's reserve fuel tank. If the Delta conflict spirals out of control, it could destroy Nigeria's unity and disrupt the global balance of oil supply. That is the doomsday scenario - and completely avoidable according to experts in conflict resolution.": “A report for the oil company Shell explains the role of the armed gangs at local level in the elections of 2003": "With the return of democracy... these groups became even more prominent as local politicians and parties supplied youth groups with money, weapons and political/legal immunity... in the run up to elections. "Once elections were over, these rewards were not forthcoming. Rather than returning weapons, these groups engage themselves in a range of criminal activities." (Peace and Security in the Niger Delta, WAC Global Services, December 2003) (ShellNews.net) Posted 17 Nov 04
RELATED CONFIDENTIAL REPORT:ShellNews.net: LEAKED SHELL CONFIDENTIAL INTERNAL REPORT ON SHELL’S ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA BY WAC Global Services Dec 03: “PEACE AND SECURITY IN THE NIGER DELTA”.
The Observer (UK): Britain honours hanged hero as legal war rages on: “In the US courts he is pursuing a legal action against Shell, accusing the oil giant of aiding and abetting the torture and murder of Saro-Wiwa and other members of the Ogoni tribe…” (ShellNews.net) 20 March 05
The Guardian (UK): Fight to the death: As the 10th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa approaches, William Boyd remembers a courageous friend and fellow writer who took on Shell and the Nigerian government: “He became a David who challenged two redoubtable Goliaths: a multinational oil company and a corrupt military regime”: “He built a case against Shell and the Nigerian government that was impossible to refute” (ShellNews.net) 23 March 05
Related Paper by Alfred Donovan presented at the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS International, USA) Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, held on 26/27 June 2004
*Extract from the Convention Paper: THE OPPRESSION AND EXPLOITATION OF THE OGONI PEOPLE: I was stationed in Palestine in the 1930’s. I regret to say that the Arabs were treated with distain and generally viewed as being second class citizens in their own Countries. How things have changed. The Arabs were sitting on top of the worlds largest oil reserves. Quite correctly, citizens in the oil rich Arab nations have benefited from their own natural resources and are now among the wealthiest people in the world. They have considerable power, influence and respect. It is impossible to reconcile that situation with what has happened in Nigeria where the population has been oppressed and exploited by Shell and successive Nigerian regimes and Ogoniland has been subjected to long term ecological degradation. While the Ogoni people sit on top of oil fields, but remain abysmally poor, Sir Philip Watts sits on an $18 million (US dollar) pension pot. It is simply obscene and indefensible. After yet another document meant for consumption solely by Shell management was leaked to the press in mid June, Shell was forced to admit that its actions in Nigeria fed “a vicious cycle of violence and corruption”. Under the circumstances, it speaks volumes for the Ogoni people have not resorted to violence, but are pursuing a legal peaceful campaign to right a monumental injustice.
Email from Mr Charles Wiwa, nephew of the late Nobel Laureate Ken Saro-Wiwa 7 July 04
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