Nigerian Widows Challenge Shell In Dutch Court

Warri, Shell.

 

 

 

Four Nigerian women on Tuesday launched a court case in the Netherlands against oil giant Shell for alleged complicity in the execution of their husbands by the military regime in the 1990s.

The civil case has been brought by Esther Kiobel — the widow of Barinem Kiobel who was hanged in 1995 along with writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and seven others — and is backed by Amnesty International.

“My husband had a good heart. Now I am a poor widow who has lost everything,” Esther Kiobel was quoted as telling the court in The Hague by Dutch news agency ANP.

“The abuses that my family and I went through were a horrible experience that has traumatised us to this day,” added Kiobel, who fled Nigeria in 1998 and now lives in the United States.

Kiobel and one of the other widows were in court for opening arguments. The other two women whose husbands were killed were denied visas to attend.

Kiobel added in a statement issued through Amnesty that “over the years, Shell has continually fought to make sure this case is not heard in court. They have the resources to fight me instead of doing justice for my husband.”

The Dutch court writ alleges that Shell helped in the arrest of the men, who had sought to peacefully disrupt oil development in the Ogoni region because of health and environmental impacts.

Saro-Wiwa, president and founder of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and eight fellow activists were executed on November 10, 1995 after a military tribunal convicted them of the murder of four traditional Ogoni chiefs.

“These women believe that their husbands would still be alive today were it not for the brazen self-interest of Shell, which encouraged the Nigerian government’s bloody crackdown on protesters even when it knew the human cost,” Amnesty’s Mark Dummett said.

Shell denies all involvement in the men’s executions.

“The executions carried out by a military government at that time have deeply affected us,” a spokesman for the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said.

Shell said it had urged the Nigerian presidency to grant leniency “and we regret that no response was given.”

The Ogoni movement was set up in 1990 to fight against pollution and the destruction of the ecosystem of the 500,000-strong Ogoni community, which lives on an oil-rich parcel of land on the northern edge of the Niger Delta.

The executions provoked a global outcry and led to the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth. The west African country was re-admitted with the return of civilian rule in 1999.

Former Rebel Leader, Bosco Ntaganda Appears Before ICC

NtagandaThe war crimes trial of former Congolese rebel leader, Bosco Ntaganda, started on Wednesday at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.

He denied all 18 charges which include murder, rape and the recruitment of child soldiers.

More than 2,000 victims have been cleared to take part in the trial, including former child soldiers who would be called as witnesses.

General Ntaganda fought for different rebel groups as well as the Congolese army.

The 41-year-old is accused of killing at least 800 civilians during separate attacks on a number of villages between 2002 and 2003.

He is also accused of raping girl soldiers and keeping them as sex slaves.

In 2013, he handed himself in at the US embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

He had evaded capture for seven years after the ICC first issued warrants for his arrest.

General Ntaganda was part of the Union of Congolese Patriots rebel group, led by Thomas Lubanga, who in 2014, became the only person convicted by the ICC.

He was one of the leaders of the M23 rebel movement, which had fought government troops until signing a peace deal in 2013.

Eastern DR Congo had suffered two decades of violence linked to ethnic rivalries and competition for the control of the area’s rich mineral resources.

The unrest began when some of the ethnic Hutu militants accused of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda fled into DR Congo.

Britain To Compensate Kenyans For Colonial-Era Torture

Britain expressed regret on Thursday about the abuse of Kenyans by colonial forces during the Mau Mau insurgency in the 1950s and announced a compensation package for more than 5,200 survivors worth a total of 20 million pounds ($31 million).

The deal, settled out of court after three elderly Kenyan torture victims won the right in October to sue the British government, could encourage people in other former colonies to press claims over grievances dating back to the days of Empire.

“The British government recognizes that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament in London.

“The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence.”

The government reached a deal with the lawyers acting for the victims. The package, worth 19.9 million pounds in total, included a settlement sum in respect of 5,228 claimants.

Sources in Kenya had earlier told Reuters the individual victims would receive about 2,600 pounds each, or about 340,000 Kenyan shillings in a country where average annual income is about 70,000 shillings.

London will also pay for a new memorial in Nairobi to the victims of torture and ill-treatment during the colonial era.

“This is a great day for us Mau Mau people” said Gitu Wa Kahengeri, secretary general of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association, speaking to Reuters in Nairobi.

“This is confirmation we were freedom fighters and not terrorists. We have been waiting a long time to hear the British say ‘what we did in Kenya was wrong’.”

The so-called Kenyan Emergency of 1952-1961 was one of the most traumatic episodes of British colonial rule in Africa.

Mau Mau rebels fighting for land and an end to British domination attacked British targets, causing panic among white settlers and alarming the government in London.

Tens of thousands of rebels were killed by colonial forces and their Kenyan allies, while an estimated 150,000 people, many of them unconnected to Mau Mau, were detained in camps.

“NOT A PRECEDENT”

The three Kenyans who took the British government to court were all survivors of the detention camps.

The British government tried for three years to block the legal action by Paulo Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, now in their 70s and 80s, but the High Court ruled in October that they had the right to sue for damages.

Nzili was castrated while in detention, Nyingi suffered severe beatings during nine years when he was held without charge, and Mara suffered sexual abuse including rape using a soda bottle full of boiling water.

“This is a story of a massive cover up and 50 years later justice being done. I don’t know if there will be another case like this,” Elkins told Reuters in Nairobi.

The compensation package is likely to be examined closely by others who complain of human rights abuses during British colonial times, although Hague said he believed it would not give extra force to their claims.

“It is of course right that those who feel they have a case are free to bring it to the courts,” Hague said. “However…we do not believe that this settlement establishes a precedent in relation to any other former colonial administration.”

One case that has already been going through the courts concerns the 1948 killing of 24 unarmed Malayan civilians in the rubber plantation village of Batang Kali in what was then the British protectorate of Selangor.

A court ruled last year that Britain was responsible for the deaths, contradicting the official government position.

In 2008, The Times newspaper reported that U.S. President Barack Obama’s Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, had been imprisoned and tortured by the British during the Mau Mau uprising. It quoted his wife, Sarah Onyango, as saying he was whipped every day.

The report fueled speculation that Obama might have a cool relationship to Britain because of this, although a later biography of the president cast doubt on the account.

Bakassi Peninsula has never been part of Nigeria – Robert Clarke

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke argues that the Bakassi Peninsula was territorially never in Nigeria. Clarke said this during an in an interview with our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele.

Clarke said “some legal practitioners who thought they could procure a false judgment led the country down the path of submitting to the jurisdiction of the World Court”.

He added that ” because 80 per cent of Bakassi citizens are Nigerians we can defend it by force. So, knowing fully well that we do not own it we should not have subscribed to going to the world court for a litigation”

Supreme Court cedes disputed 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State

The Supreme Court on Tuesday conferred on Akwa Ibom State, the ownership of the 76 oil wells along the Atlantic Ocean, ruling that Cross River State has lost its claim to being a littoral state.

According to the Court, Cross River State lost the right of an oil producing state when the federal government under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo handed over portions of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroun.

The seven justices of the court headed by Dahiru Musdapher, in their ruling, submitted that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) was right in attributing the oil wells to Akwa Ibom at the inter-agencies meeting.

Justice Olufunlola Adekeye, who read the lead judgment, which was unanimous, dismissed the appeal by Cross River State as lacking in substance and merit, insisting that the agreement which initially gave the state rights to the 76 oil wells was upturned by the handing over of Bakassi to Cameroon.

“The facts before the court do not support the claim of the plaintiff to being a littoral state. A non-littoral state cannot claim oil wells offshore as she has no maritime territory. The plaintiff has no maritime territory since the cessation of Bakassi Peninsula and the Cross River estuary which used to be part of the state prior to August 2008. The present position of the plaintiff cannot be blamed on any government agency particularly the National Boundary Commission and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.

“This court cannot because of the influx of refugees from Bakassi into Cross River State, give a legislative judgment. The government of Nigeria has a means of providing for the social needs of the people of Cross River State faced with the social problems thrust on the state due to the cessation of the Bakassi Peninsula to the Cameroun,” the court ruled.

The 76 oil wells had before the judgment of the International Court of in Justice in Hague belonged to Bakassi Local government area of Cross River state.

Bakassi was however handed over to Cameroun on the order of the International Court of Justice as the new owner of the oil rich area after its victory in a boundary legal battle with Nigeria.

However, the Supreme Court said that Akwa Ibom being a littoral state with its boundary directly touching the sea remains the only state that can lay claim and remains the rightful owner of the 76 oil wells in line with the International law.

The Cross River State government had through it counsel, Yusuf Ali, approached the Supreme Court and asked it to compel both the Federal Government and the Akwa Ibom state government to respect the sharing formula put in place by the former President Obasanjo on the 90 oil wells which had been a subject of dispute between Cross River and the Akwa Ibom state government.

Imoke flaws judgement

The Cross River State governor, Liyel Imoke has faulted to the judgement of the Supreme Court which handed over 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State.

Mr Imoke said: “As a wronged but law-abiding people, we had hoped for justice. We had hoped for a dispensation of justice that would restore our belief in the timeless saying by the iconic American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior that “the arm of the moral universe still bends towards justice.”

He said that the judgment differed from the opinion of the people but noted that justice could only be delayed and not denied.

“We maintained our peace and dignity even in the face of what could easily have provoked unprecedented violence and reprisals. We hoped for justice from the highest court in the land. But our hope was dashed. My dear brothers and sisters, our spirit will never be broken,” he said.

Akpabio hails ruling

The Akwa Ibom State governor, Godwill Akpabio, who also spoke to journalists after the judgment, said had the apex court ceded the 76 oil wells to Cross River State, the oil well would have automatically been transferred to Cameroun.

He said: “we are happy that the Supreme Court did justice today, but we hereby extend hands of fellowship to our sister state, we have always lived amicably with one another, and we are committed towards ensuring that the relationship that had always existed between the two states is not jeopardized in any way.”