Photo credit: Ed Kashi
The video below was originally displayed on wiwavshell.org – the website for the plaintiffs filing a law suit against the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell – but was removed by court order after legal motions were filed by the multinational. Thanks to YouTube, however, the video has a new lease of life and has at time of typing been viewed over 65,000 times since being uploaded two weeks ago. It’s a decent introduction to the atrocities committed by the corporation in collusion with the Nigerian government and its military, spotlighting their determined efforts to put down a peaceful and popular movement by the citizens of Nigeria against the violent, corporate control and destruction of their lives, land and resources.
Among the plaintiffs are family of Ken Saro-Wiwa, an author and environmental activist who lead The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Mr. Saro-Wiwa, with eight other martyrs to the cause, was executed in 1995 to the horror of the local Ogoni people and the international community – after a tribunal, with a Shell lawyer in attendance, that appears to have been nothing more than a hollow formality; a farce. Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues were tortured in the lead-up to the trial, were denied access to legal counsel and were given no right of appeal. It appears their only real crime was making life difficult for a company that wanted unrestrained access to land and oil, and the freedom to profligately pollute the Niger Delta.
For more than a decade since, a team of human rights attorneys have endeavoured to have Royal Dutch Shell and the head of their Nigerian operations brought to trial and held accountable for repeated and serious human rights and environmental abuses. Attempts by Shell to have the case thrown out have been overturned. Due to wrangling over the release of the video below, Shell’s lawyers managed to delay a May 27 start date for the trial. The latest news is that a pre-trial Conference for the Wiwa v. Shell case is now set for Wednesday June 3rd.
Shell is the largest oil producer in Nigeria, and their destructive activities continue to this day. You can read about their environmental disasters, such as gas flaring and oil spills, here.
An estimated 1.5 million tons of oil has spilled in the Niger Delta ecosystem over the past 50 years. This amount is equivalent to about one “Exxon Valdez” spill in the Niger Delta each year. – wiwavshell.org
Wikipedia has this to say about gas flaring in the country:
Much of the natural gas extracted in oil wells in the Delta is immediately burned, or flared, into the air at a rate of approximately 70 million m³ per day. This is equivalent to 41% of African natural gas consumption, and forms the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet…. The biggest gas-flaring company is the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. – Wikipedia
Around 27 million people are dependent on the health of the Niger Delta environs to meet their base needs – but the survival of subsistence fishing and farming activities has taken a back seat to corporate profit.
With around 85% of Nigeria’s oil revenues getting funneled to a mere 1% of the population, and the vast majority of the nation living in abject poverty, this is one case that will be closely watched by those whose lives have been turned upside down by the so-called ‘black gold’. And for us in the North – may we realise the gross ugliness of our fossil fuel dependence. When we complain about the price we pay at the pump, consider that no matter how high it may get, it will never be enough to pay its true cost.
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The video Shell doesn’t want you to see
A mainstream media report