The events of last few weeks enkindled my belief in the writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa before the Ogoni Civil Disturbances Tribunal which sentenced him to death in1995. Ken, writing about the role of Shell in his persecution told the tribunal:
” My lord…… I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war the company has waged in the delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war duly punished. The crime of the company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished”
Twenty five years later, Saro-Wiwa’s predictions are beginning to show signs of fulfillment as Shell draws close to a trial. For us, the Ogoni people and indeed the entire Niger Delta, Shell’s atrocities were profound and monumental and cannot be wished away. The rulings of last few weeks gives me hope that the many families whose loved ones were lost to the bullets of Shell sponsored military raids on Ogoni will someday get justice.
I remember Agbarator Otu, Uebari Nnah, Lebe Nkpara, Karalolo Korgbara, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nubari Kiobel, Nordu Eawo and thousands of others who lost their lives to the bullets of Nigerian soldiers and Shell. I wish this monster called Shell will be liquidated by the consequences of their actions in the Niger Delta and that their experiences will serve as a deterrent to the Nigerian oil industry whose powers have become stronger than even the Nigerian state.
We have a database of over 4,000 victims who lost their lives to the bullets of Paul Okuntimo, Obi Umahi and security operatives sponsored by Shell against the Ogoni people. Certainly, the turn of events is a welcome development, it is refreshing that our world is evolving and drifting towards the likelihood that justice can be obtained elsewhere when denied or unlikely in one’s home country or the country where the crime was committed.
It is truly very encouraging that Shell will someday be questioned for its crimes in Ogoni and the Niger Delta. But I am particularly glad that the crimes of the Nigerian military and Shell against families who lost their loved ones in the cause of seeking justice for the Ogoni people will find a window of justice open to them.
We thank all our friends and lovers of peace and justice, all over the world, who committed their resources, and still do, to help our people find a better life and future. We could have been exterminated if not for your intervention and support.
We thank the foreign governments and the UNHCR who demonstrated their humanity when our own government turned against us and declared war on our peaceful demand for fairness in Nigeria. The many men and women of conscience who helped protect the lives of thousands of our peoples who could have been killed by the Nigerian government under General Sani Abacha. We thank the large community of human rights campaigners across Europe, the Americas, Africa and all over the world who did not only lend their voices against the torture and killing of our people but took practical steps to rescue and protect the Ogoni people from Shell’s massacre.
May God continue to bless you all and may the spirits of our ancestors stand in your defense just the way you defended us and saved us from monstrous Shell.
We hope that sooner than later, the books of records containing the atrocities of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell will be open and Shell’s day of reckoning will finally come.
Fegalo Nsuke is president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). He wrote from Bori, Ogoni, Nigeria.