Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)

27 Odu Street, Ogbunabali, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Ph/fax (+234) 84 230 250 e-mail: mosop@phca.linkserve.com

 

International Secretariat: Suite 5 , 3 Albion Place, Galena Rd, Hammersmith London W6OLT, U.K

Ph(+44) 181 563 8614 fax 181 563 8615 e-mail mosop@gn.apc.org

 

MOSOP Condemns Shell actions in Ogoni

Press Release

For immediate release Tuesday 21 March, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

In response to rapidly worsening relations between Shell and the Ogoni people, MOSOP today warned the Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, Mark Moody-Stuart that his company risked sparking the worst crisis in the area since 1995.

MOSOP’s letter to Moody Stuart is the first correspondence to Shell in over four years and notes quite desperate measures by Shell contractors seeking to establish a presence in Ogoni and widespread destabilisation efforts which even include police involvement in the vandalisation of oil pipelines.

[Shell whose operations in Ogoni began in 1958, last faced a crisis in relation to its operations in Nigeria in 1995 when Ken Saro Wiwa and eight Ogoni activists were executed as the military government of General Abacha sought to end resistance to Shell operations in the Ogoni area.]

"We have been forced to advise Shell that their local staff and contractors are now using similar tactics to those of the last decade in what appears to be a desperate attempt to establish a foothold in Ogoni which will allow the company to resume oil operations in the area," said Ledum Mitee president of MOSOP today

"It has been disappointing to find that Shell has been publicly stating that it believes in consultation with communities, and certain business principles when it has failed to impose the discipline on its staff and contractors to live up to these principles."

"The specific problems that we have raised about Shell projects, especially those presented as ‘Community projects’ is that they have a record of serious corruption, failure to complete, failure to genuinely consult local communities, which have provoked the resistance of local people."

"MOSOP has sought to establish principles of transparency in proposed projects and has won recognition from government figures, overseas donors, in fact all parties except Shell. We are surprised that three years after Shell claimed to have reformed its business principles its approach to Ogoni has reverted to the appalling practices which existed before 1994"

 

"We have warned Shell that MOSOP will hold Shell fully responsible for any violence that results against the Ogoni people from these recent steps"

For further Information

 

Ledum Mitee

President MOSOP

MOSOP Office Port Harcourt (+234) 84 233 907  or   (+234) 84 230 250

Lazarus Tamana -

President MOSOP-UK

London Office -  (+ 44) 181 563 8614  or  (+44) 7712217876

Editor’s note:

Full copy of correspondence to Royal Dutch Shell is available from Port Harcourt or in response to e-mail request to mosop@phca.linkserve.com

 

Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)

 

27 Odu Street, Ogbunabali, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Ph/fax (+234) 84 230 250 e-mail: mosop@phca.linkserve.com

 

 

International Secretariat: Suite 5 , 3 Albion Place, Galena Rd, Hammersmith London W6OLT, U.K

Ph(+44) 181 563 8614 fax 181 563 8615 e-mail mosop@gn.apc.org

 

Mr Mark Moody Stuart

Chairman

Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Company

By fax

Tuesday 21 March 2000

 

Dear Mr Moody-Stuart

I am writing to express the deep concern and frustration felt by MOSOP at the recent actions of SPDC and your contractors, which are contributing to a significant heightening of tensions in Ogoni. We must advise you that our assessment of current developments is that Shell risks sparking the worst crisis in relations since 1995.

 

MOSOP has noted on a number of occasions quite extraordinary variation between the public statements of Shell and the actual behaviour of your staff and contractors.

Contrary to expectations and assurances we had through third party contacts, aimed primarily at consideration of SPDC community projects in Ogoni, the attitude of local staff seems to have deteriorated seriously with an apparent attitude in some quarters that the divisive and rather corrupt tactics used prior to 1995 can be applied again in Ogoni.

MOSOP recently noted with concern repeated statements by Shell locally that serious problems will arise unless Shell is allowed renewed access to Ogoni to service their facilities . Since then we have received unprecedented accounts of oil spills in Ogoni, which appear unrelated to any genuine or possible risks.

Subsequently Shell staff or contractors have then been observed entering Ogoni "to conduct repairs" under armed guard in a manner which we believed was rejected by Shell when it said some years ago that it would not operate in Ogoni "behind the shield of guns and armed force".

There has also undoubtedly been vandalisation of pipes by individuals who have operated be under armed police escort throughout their activities. While at first these accounts seemed quite incredible the persistence of these reports and our investigations reveal quite consistent pre-meditated activity.

 

 

On at least two separate occasions police appear to have sealed areas in Gokana, Ogoni at night, while saboteurs who have travelled in their company have vandalised pipelines. Even where local people have caught such individuals Shell has refused to prosecute these individuals,

At the same time SPDC appears to have decided that it will support road and other projects which increase its presence in Ogoni at all costs .

There appears to be no genuine regard given to local concerns or priorities and the undertakings made by Shell to consult with the Ogoni Development Board which was formed specifically to provide an appropriate forum for discussion seem to be quite forgotten.

On the contrary we are finding credible reports of bribery and the hiring of what can only be described as local thugs to provide security to these projects.

We must advise that local residents are outraged by the presence of contractors are held in very low regard because of their previous record.

I hope you understand that the Ogoni people will strenuously resist the repetition of past corrupted and incomplete projects in Ogoni, especially as local people are observing signs of widespread bribery in an attempt to facilitate proposed projects.

You will be well aware that a company that is as dominant in the local economy as Shell can exert enormous influence over the actions of local officials and contractors who will seek to curry favour with a main player in the regional and national economy. We do not believe that SPDC is exerting sufficient discipline among its staff and contractors to avoid situations which will compromise basic corporate good behaviour.

Accordingly we would urge you to remind SPDC and your contractors that they will be held to the highest standards of conduct and that they should avoid taking unnecessary and provocative steps in Ogoni. We cannot see anything in the recent actions of SPDC and your contractors which is consistent with Shell’s "Profits and principles" and we view your response to this development as a test of your company’s commitment to these principles.

MOSOP will hold Shell fully responsible for any action of contractors or those seeking to promote projects in such a reckless manner which we fear will lead to violence against local Ogoni people.

I hope that you will appreciate the urgency of this situation and the need for Shell to demonstrate that it can and will respond positively and constructively to this appeal.

Yours faithfully

 

Ledum Mitee

President, MOSOP