Sunday, April 05, 2009

Shell vs Saro-Wiwa - court case coming up in NY shortly...

in the Saturday FT, here and the Sunday Observer, here.


Nzeit 9:13 pm  

Whoa!! This case is going to be GROUNDBREAKING.

It is already already, actually - if you consider the fact that it has established a precedence for holding companies liable for damages caused by their operators in Nigeria. Well, I think so because I don't know of any other case.

Imagine the changes it might lead to if Shell is found liable/guilty.

Rising from my Ashes 9:15 pm  

I am a bit uncomfortable with tht title...reads as though shell is prosecuting/claiming and the SaroWiwas are the defendants. Please swap it. All the same I don't see how shell can lose in its defence with all the corruption going on in the world. The lawyers will determine the outcome of this case and as you know shell have the resources to put a robust defence together. But I hope the Wiwas win. Shell has done a lot of damage to the planet. Thanks

Rising from my Ashes 9:43 pm  

Also, if you know the Wiwas (which I think you do) you should advise that the claim will fail. It will be difficult to prove how shell collaborated with the authorities not to talk of the fact that its a test case. Also, I havent ben following but have they tried instituting a claim against shell Nigeria and in the Nigerian courts?

Its absurd to attempt to launch the claim in the US especially if he is the one financing the prosecution...the lawyers just want to make noise (name) and in the process make some money from Ken Jnr. The case will be thrown out unless there is a mechanism for the judge to give an order transferring it from the American courts to the Nigerian that it doesn't get thrown out but passed back to naija.

They should not be under the impression that shell will want to protect their name and then offer an out of court settlement. Shell will defend its name to the end even if its only to avoid a floodgate of claims against it. They will worry about the costs afterwards.

I wish them the best of luck and I can imagine the kind of love he has for his father otherwise he wouldn't be attempting this.

Sean 1:14 am  

Young Ken is talking at the Pen World Voices Festival on the case a few weeks before the case:

-- Sean

Ifa Oracle 1:48 pm  

This case will discredit Ken Wiwa. This is all about money it seems. The man is gone. The main culprit (Abacha) is also gone. Justice has been done nbut to now start making noise and causing trouble he is about to learn a very big lesson about the world we live in. He's about to learn how brutal the justice system can be.

Ifa has spoken.

Ifa Oracle 1:49 pm  

This case will discredit Ken Wiwa. This is all about money it seems. The man is gone. The main culprit (Abacha) is also gone. Justice has been done nbut to now start making noise and causing trouble he is about to learn a very big lesson about the world we live in. He's about to learn how brutal the justice system can be.

Ifa has spoken.

Anonymous,  8:10 pm  

SO if ken loses it will discredit him? not those that murdered his father, but discredit ken?

i'm not even sure if ken is the only plaintiff anyway, so it's hardly about ken. the case took so long because they are fighting a mighty company. the case isn't something that was file recently.

i wish them the best because it will open the floodgates to more of these suits to better police the actions of the companies in the country

truth 10:56 pm  

it will discredit Ken because it would look as though he is after money...

it's clear that its the Nigerian authorities who should be held responsible and not shell

shell did not order the execution and shell even pleaded against it

the case cannot be proved since abacha is gone

no matter how many witnesses ken brings you will witness injustice in a very scary way

where the evidence points in kens favour the judge will not look at it

the judge will look favourable upon "shell" a co-operation and not just "one man" ken

i know what I am talking.

he should forget it or face psychological turmoil which has started with the adjournment which can go on indefinitely

then come today come tomorrrow

I will only say he should proceed if his lawyers are doing it pro bono i.e. free no win no fee but if he is expected to fuck out dollars he shouldnt do it because there is no case

i am speaking out of experience.

kens case is against the nigerian government and not shell so he has already lost this one

Anonymous,  1:32 am  

it's a civil action for wrongful death so the only thing he can likely get is financial compensation. it's hardly unseemly or uncommon since the defendants can't bring his father back.

why is it clear the nigerian government should be held liable and not shell? at the very least i see a conspiracy here, which holds both equally accountable, but my understanding is the alien tort act--the statute that support ken's claim--only applies to US companies, so the nigerian government would be dismissed from the matter. He could bring a case against nigeria in nigeria but we know how that would end.

try not to see this matter from the narrow view of Ken. I'm sure he is looking at it in a larger context. should he win many lawyers would come to nigeria to find cases of abuse by shell and other US companies (like the pfizer one) and hold them accountable, akin to what the jews have been able to do with holocaust injuries. it would give the poor man in nigeria something to fight these multinationals with, since their government is clearly not on their side

Controversial Anon 5:26 pm  

I hope that Mr Ken Wiwa does not forget to mention why his father was 'tried' and hung.

The Ogoni Four, against who his father incited (so wickedly) that crowd of angry youths to murder, have sons as wells, they too left behind widows, they too have brothers and sisters and people who loved and cared for them. Perhaps if any of Ken's supporters knew those men's children personally, perhaps if they know that those men did not live to see their grand children, maybe they will come to their senses with this Saro Wiwa thing.

No one, for what ever reason, has the right to pronounce death on another man, not me, not you, not Abacha or his Tribunal, and definitely not Saro Wiwa. But he incited a crowd against 4 men, those men were brutally murdered, he was responsible for their death, he did not receive a fair trial, and my personal opinion is that he should not have been killed, but it that is irrelevant, because he was responsible for the death of those 4 men at Giokoo.

And to anyone who thinks Shell has any case to answer, here's a loud mocking laugh at you - lol. Ogoni people had beef with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), a company 60% owned by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Saro Wiwa was tried, convicted and hung by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not Shell.

Just because Saro Wiwa was a famous poet doesn't mean he was innocent, he was GUILTY and RESPONSIBLE for the death of the OGONI FOUR at Giokoo, let's never forget that.

Rising from my Ashes 9:46 pm  

This claim must fail. I cannot part with it without speaking of my own sense of disappointment in light of submission by controversial anon that Saro Wiwa was indeed responsible for the death of others.

If he really was responsible for the death of those innocent 4 men, then Ken Junior may have a serious case to answer. The present Nigerian government should bring a case and Ken should be made to pay compensation to the family of those his late father incited the crowd against.

Or is Ken junior suggesting that his fathers life is worth more than the lives of those 4?

In appreciating the perils of hindsight, I would agree entirely with Mr. truth above. Shell hasn't any case to answer. It is the Nigerian government that have a case. But exactly how can an illegal government have any case to answer? The government in question was an aberation and has since been terminated with Nigerias return to the democratic fold.

I should interpose that some of you reading this may think I have something against Ken and I hope he is reading this but it is in his best interest to withdraw this claim. Anyone who loves him would get him to discontinue it before shells lawyers start running up costs for which Ken will be pursued. And when they start pursuing him for costs, which they will, the case will be labelled shell vs saro-wiwa as put by jeremy.

Finally it would not be appropriate to conclude without referring to a part of what was said by anonymous that "should he win many lawyers would come to nigeria to find cases of abuse by shell and other US companies (like the pfizer one) and hold them accountable" will form a limb of shells defence. The floodgates argument is another very good reason why this claim should be rejected.

Ken will be critical of my position and I cannot see any chance that he wil accept it. But he will have to if only to avoid a very terrible result. I have to hope that he can put the matter behind him, he has much to offer and time is on his side.

Controversial Anon 1:10 am  

Just to add the following:

I can't see why Ken Jnr should not pursue his case in New York, he has every right to do so and I acknowledge the resolve of his pursuit, even as I faile to see the wisdom of it and i think it will lead to nothing. I wish him well.

Shell Oil Company (The American Shell) is a separate corporate entity to SPDC (the company that used to drill for oil in Ogoni land) which is 60% owned by the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So Shell Oil Company has no case to answer. I would imagine that the only jurisdiction a New York court would have in this matter is if Royal Dutch Shell (the mother Shell and minority stakeholder in SPDC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, I'm sure he and his lawyers have done their homework. In any case, I don't see how he can triumph. I know it's fashionable to bash oil companies, believe me I too bash them when it's necessary, but this time Shell will wipe the floor with them.

Ken Saro-Wiwa was a fine poet, I shall never forget his TV creation - Basi & Company (If you want to be a millionaire, think like a millionaire), I have fond memories of his work. But the man crossed a line, he made a mistake and he paid for it. He was upset, and rightly so, because his efforts had been sabotaged allegedly by the bribe taking Ogoni Four, I can understand his frustration and I empathize with the emotional outpouring, but he should have contained his emotions.

Now let's look at how things are today. Today in Ogoniland, they talk about the Ogoni 13 (Saro-Wiwa and the other 8 people that were hung with him - Ogoni 9, plus the four who were brutally murdered in Giokoo by the Ogoni youth who had listened to Saro-Wiwa tell them how they sold out their people for bribes - Ogoni 4), all these people are a huge loss to Ogoniland. And all this for what? Ogoni accounts for a mere 30,000 barrels/day of crude oil, an insignificant figure in the general scheme of things, considering that SPDC produces over 1 million barrels/day in Nigeria, and that Royal Dutch Shell's net production is 3 million barrels/day world wide, and Nigeria produces over 2 million barrels/day, or that the Bonga FPSO produces 220,000 barrels/day, there is not that much oil in Ogoniland afterall.

So Ogoniland is not a significant oil producer and Saro-Wiwa was indeed responsible for the death of the people for whose murder he was convicted and hung. So why does this matter continue to drag? Is it because the man involved is a poet? is it because his had a son at Eton? Is it because a good old bashing of Big Oil will always earn you friends? Is is because he was an environmentalist? Is it because he stood up to the establishment? Is it because he was an underdog? Is it because he confronted a dictatorship? Is it because he did not get a fair trial at the Tribunal?

Whatever the reason, as Nigerians, let's not lose sight of the facts, doing so is an insult to our intelligence and a dishonour to the memory of all the victims of this unfortunate episode, especially the Ogoni Four. Let's leave the romantics to Greenpeace.

Anonymous,  2:27 pm  

con anon, if you contend he did not get a fair trial, how are you so confident he is guilty of the deaths of the ogoni 4?

Anonymous,  8:37 pm  

Knowledge is power!

Sorry, I will go a little deeper because it occur to me that most people don't understand the Ogoni struggle and the lawsuit. I've met Nigerians who confessed they didn't know what Ogoni suffered between '93 and '99.

Meanwhile,those of you who have spoken, I thank you for your concerns and the perspectives in which you've spoken. Let us not break our heads or throw insult for things we don't really know. The commentaries so far shows the speakers have little idea on, or about the Ken Saro-Wiwa et al. v Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport and Trading Company's lawsuit.

If so, note that Shell had tried numerous times to ask that this case be thrown out and Judge Kimba Wood of the Third District Court of New York kept saying it's a case to answer. The latest attempt was about three weeks ago after it tried to settle out of court and failed. There is another case filed in '02, involving 12 Ogoni sons and daughter:Kiobel et al. V Royal Dutch, etc. in the same court.

Know also that the chairman of Shell resigned in the early stage after the case was filed in '96, and he tried to use his might to lobby the issue of jurisdiction and failed. The Ogoni 9 were unjustly murdered by hanging in '95 so that Shell may operate unhindered and the case filed the following year as mentioned above.

It means therefore that it isn't about money but justice.If you may recall this case has been postponed twice. The first trial date was Feb.9,second April 27; and it was finally scheduled for May 26. This case is being tried under the Allien Tort Act that permits residents of the US to file complaints about crimes or offences committed against them in other countries.

The Abiolas also used it against former President Abubakar. The Obasanjo government tried to settle out of court. Maybe it succeded because I haven't heard of it again. The reason the case is in New York is because the company has office there, indicating the company interconnects.

Therefore the involvement of Royal Dutch, etc, which is the parent body as represented above. Shell Nigeria isn't at this point sued, but this historic case would set precedence that would make possible many other litigations.We all know that Shell is a quasi government in Nigeria and so an outlaw. The lack of an independent and credible judiciary with integrity in Nigeria makes impossible this case in Nigeria. But there is hope, as every new day brings new hope! When the time comes the country can't evade the change that is necessary to better the lot of ordinary citizens.

Pertinently, the notion that Saro-Wiwa had something to do with the gruesome murder of the Ogoni 4 is frivolous and should be discountenance. Shell duck his trial to intimidate him, the Ogonis and Niger Delta. It wasn't because of any crime he committed but his political beliefs. Yes, he exposed Shell and the government of Nigeria. With the current trend in Nigeria's oil region today, Saro-Wiwa should be laughing because these monsters haven't won the fight against environmental and resource control he fought for.

And Saro-Wiwa predicted this month's trial, which lessons from the botched Ibrahim Auta's Military Tribunal of '95 will be of great importance.The Nigeria's trial was a sham and duly condemned by both the locals and international community.

The world was outraged by the level of insanity the Nigerian Government displayed. The nation earned numerous sanctions except oil embargo because the world especially the West (America in particular)is greedy and dying for oil-anyone who stand between its flow must die. But today, we're gradually coming to terms with that madness, greed and inhumanity by man against man.

What Saro-Wiwa and others fought and died is becoming palpable. The climate is changing fast causing the biggest plague (global warming)to the global environment.Our people died for attempting to stop Shell's gas flaring I call the mother of global warming. Environmental activists and Science also suggest that excessive gas flaring is one huge cause of global warming. Other greenhouse gasses are also associated with the plague.

Finally, let's call a spade a spade, research the story if there are things we don't know to get to the truth and not be unnecessarily emotional. Please go to for more info. The other aspects should be for the court, the jury to determine, not us. We're only hoping Ogoni will triumph. This is a legal matter and so the verdict will be a lesson for the world, good or bad. Ogoni has been able to bring this giant, well connected oil mogul or rogue before a court of public and legal opinion. This alone is victory.

Nevertheless, Saro-Wiwa had no record of losing a fight. We should therefore watch out and leave the rest for God, him and others who are in this case.

Thank you.

Ben Wuloo Ikari,([email protected];author Ken Saro-Wiwa and MOSOP-The Story and revelation, 2006).

Anonymous,  7:03 am  

"Controvertial Anon," if Ogoni only accounts for about 30,000 barrels of oil-which you've added 6,000 to the 24, 000 $hell Oil has always claimed-why is it that the company has refused to leave but kept making attempts to return to Ogoni? Why should the government beat itself about coming back to Ogoni with either $hell, which already lose its mining lease for not being able to return for business after ten years? I hope you aren't fronting a propaganda machine for the company.

Please note that the bulk of the 170 million barrels of oil that resulted in the popular oil boom in the 70s came from Ogoni. Meanwhile oil was discovered in Oloibiri in 1956, then came Ogoni in 1958.

The former's oil wells were emptied in a short time with nothing to show for the huge wealth $hell and the Federal Government under Yakubu Gowon and others carted away. Sadly, the harsh reality is that the locals received environmental degradation and an undeveloped plot meant for oil museum that has turned a new habitat for reptiles of all species.

For the most part Ogoni oilfields had sustained the nation while other oilfields emerged. The Ogoni oil is also of a good or best grade;it takes less to refine. We sustained the government, $hell and other oil prospecting firms alongside other Niger Delta communities to 1993 when $hell refused to attend to our simple demand. We demanded and still demanding that it accept responsibility for environmental degradation, pay accrued royalties and mining rents, stop gas flaring and pay other compensations as of right that are adequate. Then renegotiate business with Ogoni or leave.

But because we're Africans and don't matter to the West especially deadly companies such as $hell that kills to make profit, we're ignored. Consequently, the company was declared persona non grata on Jan 4, 1993; a day tagged Ogoni day. This was how $hell targeted Saro-Wiwa as enemy, for daring to organize his downtrodden people to question the company's social and environmental practices,while seeking a better life as equal member of the Nigerian Nation state. Their best option was to lure the bestial military government, pay allowances to the Rivers State Internal SecurityTask Force under the then Major Paul Okontimo (rtd.)to terrorize Ogoni and finally trumped Saro-Wiwa up for murder he knew nothing about.

Why should he be responsible for murder when the same military that took over the whole Ogoni-stopped him from campaigning for a government sponsored constitutional conference, and promise to protect the elders in their meeting at Giokoo-and returned him back to Portharcourt without any incident? Then at so-called trial, was he and others allowed to proof their innocence?

If this case was a murder issue between the Federal Government and Saro-Wiwa, what was $hell's interest that prompted it to send a lawyer to hold a so-called "Watching brief" on its behalf?The world was alert to the inglorious trial and it was duly condemned.Yet Saro-Wiwa and 8 others were killed by hanging in broad day light-11:00 A.Nov. 10, 1995.

Ledum Mitee, his deputy who compromised with the government and $hell to betray Saro-Wiwa by written testimony was granted "cosmetic acquittal," with the hope to erase his master's legacy and kill MOSOP at the behest of the duo. Mitee has usurp power for about 14 years now, but that task failed. This betryal made him not to seek justice for the Ogoni 9 or be part of the trial in New York.

$hell believed by killing Saro-Wiwa Ogoni would learn a bitter lesson and Niger Delta wouldn't attempt borrowing a leave from Ogoni so that oil/gas may flow unhindered, but it misfired and fail. The company is environmental and social racist, by doing in Ogoni/Niger Delta what it dare not do in Europe (its mother country) and America. This formed the summary of a story that must be told in proper perspective, and therefore $hell's complicity in the killing of the 9 and other human rights violations as preferred in the New York Court.

Ben Wuloo Ikari, Ogoni poet, and author Inspiration-Speak Your Mind (A collection of poetry-literally criticism).

Anonymous,  8:28 am  

The poetry below titled $hell, from my book (collection)of poetry Inspiration-Speak Your Mind. It's meant to open the trial scheduled for May 26, that was predicted or prophesized 14 years ago by Ken Saro-Wiwa, my idol before he was unjustly murdered by the monster oil corporation and its joint venture partner the Nigerian Government.

Ben Wuloo Ikari.


Never on earth could you be; in Papa's eyes you are disguised death.

In old mama's dying ears you whisper "Hell, hell."
Pouncing and brutish you are, a predator upon my progeny.

Ogoni hears you, vampire, extinction, genocide
You claw her veins and drain her blood;

The innocent are shattered in your realm. She is strangled out, wailing and gnashing her teeth.

Never on earth could you be slashing your hot tongue-never upon Ogoni, the finger that fed you

As much as you are, oh, Shell, hell is yours.

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