A Dutch court on Wednesday rejected a case brought by four Nigerian widows against oil giant, Shell over their husbands’ execution by the military regime that ruled Nigeria in the 1990s.
The executed men had been part of a group of nine activists involved in peaceful protests against pollution caused by oil leaks in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. Best known among them was author Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Dubbed the “Ogoni nine”, they were hanged after a secret trial which saw them being convicted of murdering four traditional leaders. They denied the charge, saying they had been framed.
The widows’ complaint alleged that Shell had been involved in corrupting witnesses in the trial of the so-called Ogoni 9, who in November 1995 were convicted by a military tribunal for involvement in the murder of four Ogoni leaders.
But the Dutch court ruled that their position was based on interpretation and supposition and that they had no evidence to back their accusations.
Witnesses had testified to the court that they had signed preprepared statements and had been coached to incriminate the defendants, in return for the promise of payments and jobs. They said they had been told that the money they received came from Shell.
But “the statements are largely based on assumptions and interpretations of the witnesses and are not specific enough to be able to conclude that the money they have stated actually came from (Shell)”, said a court statement.
Whatever abuses had taken place during the trial, there was no evidence that Shell had any knowledge of or role in what had happened, the court concluded.
Outside the courtroom Ms Kioble told newsmen she was happy her voice had been heard. She had testified in court in 2019, explaining how her husband’s death had left her traumatised.
She told Reuters she aimed to appeal: “I want their names exonerated. That’s what I want and that’s what I’m fighting for.”
Ms Bera said she would continue to fight the Ogoni people’s battle against oil pollution.
Shell paid out more than $15m (£11.4m) to the dead men’s families in 2009 without acknowledging any wrongdoing.