The widow of a Nigerian activist who was hanged by the government of General Sani Abacha for protesting against oil pollution and injustices in the Niger Delta region is testifying against oil-giant Shell.
Esther Kiobel is testifying in court in The Hague, several decades after her husband and eight others, including famous author Ken Saro-Wiwa, were killed by dictator Abacha in 1995.
Mrs Kiobel argues that the execution of her husband left her “traumatised” and “poverty-stricken”, and is demanding compensation from the Netherlands-based firm.
The BBC reports that she is among four women who accuse Shell of being complicit in the hanging of their husbands by Nigeria’s military in 1995.
Although Shell denies the allegation, in Nigeria, millions of people believe Shell was complicit following mass protests against oil pollution in Nigeria’s Ogoniland.
“The protests were seen as a major threat to then-military ruler Gen Sani Abacha, and Shell. They were led by author Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was among nine activists hanged by the military regime,” the BBC added.
After the killing of Saro-Wiwa, the Niger Delta region was turned into a land of war as the impoverished populations demanded justice and equality, especially as their lands and rivers continued to be polluted by Shell and other multinationals.
Nigeria is Africa’s richest country but the number of poor people can form ten other countries on the continent.
Oil companies often connived with government officials or threaten them with damaging information or coups to exploit the oil, damage the environment and suffer no consequences.