Ken Saro-Wiwa was framed, secret evidence shows

Witness statements accuse Nigerian military commander of ordering killings and taking bribes

Compelling new evidence suggests the Nigerian military killed four Ogoni elders whose murders led to the execution of the playwright and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995.

The evidence also reveals that the notorious military commander Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Okuntimo, whose troops were implicated in murder and rape, was in the pay of Shell at the time of the killings and was driven around in a Shell vehicle.

Since the time of Saro-Wiwa's death, Shell has insisted that it had no financial relationship with the Nigerian military, although it has admitted paying it "field allowances" on two occasions. It has consistently denied any widespread collusion and payments. However, The Independent on Sunday has gained exclusive access to witness accounts that were to be used in evidence in the case of Wiwa vs Shell, brought by Ken Saro-Wiwa's family. The case was settled last May for $15.5m, just days before it was due to start in New York. The settlement meant the testimonies were never made public.

They provide fresh insight into Shell's financial and logistical involvement with the Nigerian military and with Lt-Col Okuntimo.

One of the key witnesses due to testify was Boniface Ejiogu, Lt-Col Okuntimo's orderly in the Internal Security Task Force, a coalition of army, navy and police. Mr Ejiogu testified to standing guard as victims were raped and tortured while Lt-Col Okuntimo was in command. Asked if he ever saw his commander receive money from Shell, he said he witnessed it on two occasions.

Mr Ejiogu described in detail how, just days before the Ogoni elders were murdered, he drove with Lt-Col Okuntimo to Shell's base in Port Harcourt, where the officer received seven large bags of money. "I was there when other soldiers were carrying the Ghana Must Go bags," he testified. The bags were so heavy the soldiers had difficulty carrying them, and one fell open. "The thing opened," Mr Ejiogu said. "I saw it was money in bundles. He said, wow, this is money. I say, yes man, it is money."

On another occasion, Mr Ejiogu witnessed four bags being given by a Shell security official to Lt-Col Okuntimo at the official's house late at night.

Another witness, Raphael Kponee, also due to testify, was a policeman working for Shell. On a different occasion, he saw three bags being loaded into Lt-Col Okuntimo's pick-up truck by his driver and another driver in front of the security building at the Shell base. Shell officials have admitted that money was paid to the officer, but purely as field allowances for his men, who were protecting Shell property in Ogoniland.

MrEjiogu also offers compelling evidence as to who may have murdered the four Ogoni elders at a meeting on 21 May 1994. Saro-Wiwa was due to speak but was turned away by the military. Mr Ejiogu said he heard Lt-Col Okuntimo tell his task force commander to "waste them... in the army you waste them is when you are shooting rapidly".

Within 24 hours Saro-Wiwa was arrested and charged with the murders. It was implied that he had had the elders killed because of their moderate stance on Ogoni issues. Despite an international outcry, he was hanged in November 1995, following a sham trial described by the then British prime minister, John Major, as "judicial murder".

A Shell spokesman said yesterday: "Allegations concerning Okuntimo and Shell are not new. There is a lack of any credible evidence in support of these allegations. Shell Petroleum Development Corporation and Shell at the time spoke out frequently against violence and publicly condemned its use."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain