Amnesty International has called out on the Nigerian government to investigate Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell over its role in human right abuses committed by the Nigerian military to protesters in Ogoniland.
A review of thousands of internal company documents and witness statements published on Tuesday entitled “A Criminal Enterprise Shell’s Involvement in Human Rights Violations in Nigeria In the 1990s” points to the Anglo-Dutch organisation’s alleged involvement in the brutal campaign to silence protesters in the oil-producing Ogoniland region in which about 1,000 people were killed and 30,000 made homeless after villages were destroyed.
The document noted that Shell repeatedly called for military intervention against peaceful protests in the oil-producing Ogoniland region, and shell was aware this was likely to prompt human rights abuses.
Audrey Gaughran, director of global issues at Amnesty, said: “The evidence shows Shell repeatedly encouraged the Nigerian military to deal with community protests, even when it knew the horrors this would lead to – unlawful killings, rape, torture and the burning of villages.
“It is indisputable that Shell played a key role in the devastating events in Ogoniland in the 1990s but we now believe there are grounds for a criminal investigation.”
She added: “Bringing all the evidence together was the first step. We will now be preparing a criminal file to submit to the relevant authorities with a view to prosecution.”
The organisation alleges Shell gave the military “logistical support” including transport and, on at least one occasion, paid a military commander notorious for human rights violations.
Amnesty claims documents, shared with the Guardian, reveal that in March 1994 the company made a payment of more than $900 to a special government unit created to “restore order” in Ogoniland.
This was just 10 days after the unit commander ordered the shooting of unarmed protesters outside Shell’s regional headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Other evidence collated as part of the review points to Shell’s apparent links with Nigeria’s internal security agency, the SSS.
Shell has publicly said the police force seconded for its protection was used “solely to guard” its staff and property but depositions obtained as part of legal proceedings against the company are claimed to show this unit had close ties with the SSS.