Shell 'paid Nigerian military'
Sunday 17 December 1995
The internal state security memorandum, which is marked "restricted" 12 times, says that regular financial "inputs" from oil companies had been discussed. A British environmentalist said yesterday that the author of the document had told him that his men had been paid by Shell to protect installations.
Other confidential documents indicate that Shell asked for armed "assistance" against local demonstrators. And a leading Nigerian yesterday accused the company of "militarising commerce in his country".
Shell admits asking for help from armed police but strenuously denies paying the military. It says that there have been instances where the Nigerian authorities have "gone too far" and insists that it "does not wish to operate behind military shields".
But the disclosure of the documents will greatly increase the international row that has followed the execution of the writer and environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight fellow Ogoni activists last month, and will step up pressure on the multinational company to leave Nigeria.
The memorandum, headed "Law and Order in Ogoni etc" and dated 12 May 1994, is to the Military Administrator of Rivers State from the Chairman of Internal Security, Major Paul Okuntimo. It notes: "Shell operations still impossible unless ruthless military operations are undertaken for smooth economic activities to commence."
Under the heading "recommendations/strategies" Major Okuntimo lists "wasting operations during MOSOP and other gatherings making constant military presence justifiable". (MOSOP is the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People to which Ken Saro-Wiwa belonged).
He goes on to recommend: "Wasting targets cutting across communities and leadership cadres especially vocal individuals" and "wasting operations coupled with psychological tactics of displacement/wasting as noted above."
Under the heading "financial implications (estimates/funding)" the memorandum lists "pressure on oil companies for prompt regular inputs as discussed". Major Okuntimo estimated that there would have to be an "initial disbursement of 50 million naira as advanced allowances to officers and men, and for logistics to commence operations with immediate effect, as agreed".
Yesterday Nick Ashton-Jones, a British environmentalist, said that Major Okuntimo had told him and a Nigerian lawyer, Oronto Douglas, in June 1994 that he was carrying out his operations for Shell and that he was unhappy because the company had stopped paying his men. Mr Ashton-Jones, who says he was arrested by Okuntimo and beaten on his orders, said that the remark "had stuck in our minds because this was something that we had suspected".
He says that he has no real doubt that the company had been paying the major, but this remark is the only evidence he has for it.
Shell said yesterday that it was compelled by law to inform the authorities when there was a threat to oil installations and that it only called in the police when its facilities or staff were at risk. It agreed there had been "instances where the response by the authorities has gone too far with tragic consequences", but added "the level of response that a country's authorities carry out ... has got to be a matter for those authorities."
The company added: "We categorically refute that any form of input was ever provided to the military, neither would we do so if approached on such a matter.
"At the end of the day dialogue and cooperation and goodwill between people is the only way forward."
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...
£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...