LETTER:Nigerian lessons for Shell and for the world

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The Independent Online
From Mr Bill Morris

Sir: Dick van den Broek, Shell's regional co-ordinator for Africa, argues (Another View, 13 November) against a boycott of the brutal Nigerian regime for reasons of self-interest dressed up as concern for the Nigerian people. However, Shell must accept some of the blame for the tragic abuse of human rights in Nigeria, culminating in the judicial murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues.

The Etche and Ogoni people have protested against Shell for its exploitation and pollution of their land for vast profits, which have not been shared with the people of the Niger river delta. Shell's response to the people's protestations was typical - no negotiation. Shell would rather call in the police than negotiate. The Nigerian military government must be punished by the global community. But is Shell to be allowed to extricate itself from this situation without any blame?

Governments must recognise that transnational companies, particularly oil companies such as Shell, have to operate within a framework of controls so that governments can protect their people from the worst excesses of the blind pursuit of profit, Mr Van den Broek's special pleading notwithstanding. The Nigerian tragedy is a lesson to all countries - not just developing ones, but those in the developed world as well.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Morris

General Secretary


London, SW1

14 November