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Document: Oil Giant Tried To 'Re-Brand' Itself After Execution of Nigerian Activist

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

The Guardian newspaper of London reported that internal documents of the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell described a “crisis management strategy and plan” in response to the execution of Nigerian activist Ken Saro Wiwa.

The oil company had faced accusations that it colluded with the Nigerian government in the snap trial and sentencing of the community leader and eight others, who became known as the Ogoni 9.

The documents were part of a legal case settled in June 2009. The company paid $15.5 million to settle the suit of the “Ogoni 9” in a federal court in New York without admitting liability.

It was one of the largest payouts by a multi-national corporation charged with human rights violations.

Saro-Wiwa had been a vocal critic of Shell's failures to properly maintain its oil-extraction activities in the Ogoniland, which had heavily polluted its rivers and contaminated the air. The military government, allegedly with Shell’s tacit approval, arranged for trumped-up charges against the Ogoni 9 and their immediate execution by hanging on Nov. 10, 1995. The killings prompted international outrage and a public backlash against Shell and the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth for three years.

Shell officials have never faced prosecution for their purported role of furnishing Nigerian police with weapons, participating in security sweeps of the area, and hiring government troops that shot at villagers protesting the construction of a pipeline, as laid out in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, the U.S. Justice Department has ordered Shell to pay $48 million after admitting it "approved of or condoned the payment of bribes on their behalf in Nigeria and falsely recorded the bribe payments made on their behalf as legitimate business expenses in their corporate books, records and accounts".

Saro-Wiwa’s life will be commemorated this week in Houston, Texas, New York, Rome, Amsterdam, and many other cities worldwide with candle-light services and other memorials. A video of the activist can be seen at : http://www.cleanthenigerdelta.org/index.php/watchthevideo

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