Amnesty International on Thursday, June 29, reported that Four Nigerian women are taking legal action in the Dutch courts against oil giant, Shell, accusing it of complicity in the 1990s executions of their husbands by the Nigerian military.
The civil case has been brought by Esther Kiobel, the widow of Barinem Kiobel, who was hanged in 1995 along with Ken Saro-Wiwa and seven others.
Three other widows are also joining the action in The Hague.
According to Amnesty International, a writ was set to be placed before a civil court in The Hague alleging that Shell was complicit “in the unlawful arrest, detention and execution of nine men who were hanged by Nigeria’s military government in the 1990s,”
On November 10, 1995, Saro-Wiwa, president and founder of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and eight fellow activists were executed after a military tribunal convicted them of the murder of four traditional Ogoni chiefs.
The executions provoked a global outcry and led to the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth but was re-admitted with the return of civil rule in 1999.
Shell was alleged to have helped in the arrest of the men, who had sought to peacefully disrupt oil development in the region because of health and environmental impacts.
Audrey Gaughran, senior director of research at Amnesty says, “Shell has been dodging accountability for its complicity in these deaths for more than 20 years but now, thanks to Esther Kiobel’s determination and bravery in taking on this corporate Goliath, the past is finally catching up with it”.
After her husband’s death, Kiobel fled to Benin in 1998 and then moved to the United States where she still lives. She had sought with others to pursue her case through the American courts, but in 2013 the US Supreme Court ruled that the American justice system did not have jurisdiction over the case.
Amnesty is now hoping the court in The Hague will agree to hear the case.