Justice In Nigeria Now!

For Human Rights, Environmental Protection and Community Livelihoods

Chevron asks Nigerian Plaintiffs for Nearly $500,000

Posted by sarahjinn on February 2, 2009

Chevron filed a motion seeking $485,000 in costs from the Nigerian villagers who sued the company for aiding and abetting shootings, killing and torture in U.S. federal court this fall. According to the most recent UN statistics in 2006 the per capita income for a Nigerian was $912. Justice in Nigeria Now! (JINN) notes that Nigerians living in the Niger Delta’s oil producing communities are the poorest in the country and although there are no readily accessible per capita income figures for a resident of the Delta, it is certain that the figure is significantly lower than for the population of country taken as a whole. JINN’s founder, Laura Livoti says that Chevron’s attempt to squeeze nearly half a million dollars out of poor villagers who don’t even have access to clean drinking water and who had wanted jobs with the company is a dramatic illustration of Chevron’s heartlessness. To get a sense of what Chevron is asking of these villagers you need to understand that $485,000 could sustain the people of at least four or five Ilaje villages of a few hundred people in the Niger Delta for a year. Contrast this request for $485,000 (nearly $200,000 for making photocopies) of poor villagers with the $23.4 billion in recordbreaking profit the company earned in 2008.

Ed Kashi

Typical house in Ikorigho, Nigeria where many of the plaintiffs reside Credit: Ed Kashi

While Chevron claims to be sympathetic to those who live where it extracts oil, the fact that the company would further impoverish the very people whose lives their operations have devastated and who were shot by the Nigerian military who were flown in and paid by Chevron is a perfect representation of the wide gulf that exists between reality on the ground and the executives in the headquarters and public relations suites located comfortably in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the jury did not find Chevron liable in the Bowoto v. Chevron case, the fact that Chevron flew in the notoriously brutal military who shot killed and injured Nigerians staging a peaceful unarmed sit-in on the oil platform was not disputed by the company.

See recent article in the LA Times for further information on this story.


Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Niger Delta, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nigerians Return Home with Sense of Hope

Posted by sarahjinn on January 13, 2009

The Nigerian witnesses and plaintiffs send you their thanks and regards from the Niger Delta. After nearly three months in the San Francisco Bay Area during the human rights trial against Chevron, all of the Nigerians are safely and happily back at home. Although the U.S. jury did not hold Chevron accountable for its actions, it was never refuted in the Northern California District Court that Chevron paid and transported the Nigerian military to the platform in May 1998 and that two people were killed and several others injured by the military and police. The jurors, who avoided eye contact while their verdict was read, slipped silently out of the courthouse bypassing the media and the attorneys. Though we can’t tell you why the jurors came to the decision they did, we can tell you that for the Nigerians to prevail on any count all 9 jurors had to agree.

Nigerians meet with Richmond, CA community members

Nigerians meet with Richmond, CA community members

The Nigerian Ilaje and Itsekiri who were involved in this court case did not leave California with a sense of defeat; in fact the message that was declared throughout the days after the trial was one of victory to have made it this far and that “the struggle continues.” Immediately after the trial ended, having seen how organizations in the United States work, the Nigerians asked for help in building stronger local organizations in the Niger Delta with the goal of eventually creating a network to work together. JINN was able to arrange for an initial meeting with an organizational development professional to help them brainstorm initial organizational questions in the wake of the verdict. JINN hopes to be able to continue to provide appropriate support as the Nigerians actualize this thinking at home.

The Ilaje and Itsekiri returned home bolstered by meeting many supportive allies across the Bay Area and with the knowledge that they are not alone in this struggle. While they were in the Bay Area they met community members in Richmond, CA who live next to the Chevron refinery and are suffering from asthma and cancer as a result and with activists who have challenged Chevron for its highly polluting tar sands operations in Canada and those supporting the lawsuit against Chevron for the toxic mess in the Ecuadoran Amazon. They left with an understanding of their role in a greater movement that demands oil companies and all extractive industries conduct their business while respecting human rights, enhancing local community livelihoods and protecting the environment where they operate. JINN endeavors to continue to build on our relationships with our Nigerian allies.

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Niger Delta, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

JINN Statement on Verdict: Chevron Trial Still a Victory

Posted by sarahjinn on December 1, 2008

Corporate Accountability Advocates Claim Victory, Despite Verdict in Human Rights Case Against Chevron

Bowoto Case Showed There is a Legal Foundation For Corporations to be Held Liable in US Courts for Human Rights Abuses Committed Overseas

SAN FRANCISCOO Monday, December 1, a US district court jury acquitted San Ramon-based Chevron Corporation of complicity in human rights abuses. The case of Bowoto v. Chevron, which pitted Chevron and its relationship with the notoriously violent Nigerian police and military against Nigerians who peacefully protested the destruction of their environment and livelihood by Chevron’s oil production activities. Despite the verdict, corporate accountability advocates vowed to continue the struggle to bring Chevron and other corporations to justice for human rights violations they commit overseas.

“The fact that Bowoto v. Chevron made it this far in the process is a victory in and of itself, because it means that we have demonstrated that there is a clear pathway in the US court system for holding corporations accountable to the rule of law. This is the first time a case against a company for aiding and abetting human rights violations overseas has even gone before a jury. And although we are disappointed that the plaintiffs did not prevail in this case, we are heartened by the fact that we are now entering a new era in the United States and abroad where people have seen the results of unregulated corporate excess (in the financial system and elsewhere) and want corporations to be reined in to prevent serious harms. Bringing this case to trial in the United States is a step on the path to corporate accountability. In the near future, corporations will no longer have a free ride to do operate with impunity in ways that are destructive and dehumanizing,” said Laura Livoti, founder of the group Justice in Nigeria Now.

“Regardless of the verdict, the Bowoto v. Chevron case represented a watershed in terms of corporate accountability. The details of the Nigerian case – of human rights abuses in the global operations of the oil and gas industry – can be replicated many times over in different industrial sectors in different parts of the world. Now communities around the world know that they have recourse to legal mechanisms to bring corporations that violate their human rights to justice,” said Michael Watts, a professor at UC Berkeley and author of numerous books on the Niger Delta, including Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta.

Bowoto v. Chevron concerned a 1998 incident in which Nigerian soldiers and police shot unarmed residents of the Ilaje community in southern Nigeria who were staging a nonviolent sit-in at Chevron’s offshore Parabe Platform to demand that Chevron change its practices. Chevron’s operations have devastated local communities’ access to food and clean water. The protester also demanded that the company support the local economy by hiring local residents. In response to the peaceful protest, Chevron summoned the notoriously violent Nigerian police and military and transported them in Chevron helicopters to the oil platform. Under the supervision of Chevron personnel, the Nigerian military and police killed two protesters and permanently injured others. Several protesters were taken to Nigerian jails, where they were tortured.

The jury was charged with deciding whether Chevron aided and abetted the Nigerian military, in violation of international law. The legal basis for the case was the Alien Tort Statute, a law that enables foreign victims of human rights violations by corporations to hold a US corporation accountable in US court for violations of the law of nations overseas. The Alien Tort Statute has been used in cases charging Unocal with violating the human rights of Burmese villagers during the construction of an oil pipeline in Burma, and charging Yahoo with giving the Chinese government information that allowed it to identify and arrest a Chinese dissident. Both of those cases ended in out-of-court settlements. Bowoto v. Chevron would have been the first time a U.S. corporation has been held liable by a jury in U.S. courts for aiding and abetting human rights abuses committed overseas.

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US Jury Begins Deleberations in landmark Suit Aganist Chevron

Posted by sarahjinn on November 26, 2008

After spirited closing arguments yesterday by both attorneys for the plaintiffs and the defendants in the case of Bowoto v Chevron being tried in San Francisco, the 9-member jury for the Northern California District Court began deliberations late in the day.  As of Wednesday afternoon at 1pm (when court closed for the holiday weekend) a verdict is still to be determined.  For an account of the closing statements  read the latest articles in the San Francisco Chronicle by Bob Egelkos and The LA Times piece by  Richard Paddock

The jury will need to find liability on the part of Chevron for the killing, injury and torture of the Nigerian plaintiffs for the following violations under the Alien Tort Statute:

  • Torture
  • Wrongful Death
  • Cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Negligence

Be sure to read the Bowoto v Chevron Blog for a full account of the court proceedings since the trial opened on October 27.

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chevron Still Paying Nigerian Military to Kill Unarmed Protesters

Posted by sarahjinn on November 25, 2008

While Chevron is defending themselves in US court for aiding and abetting the Nigerian military to shoot and kill unarmed protesters in Nigeria in May of 1998 they continue to do the same thing as recently as last week according to the Vanguard a large Nigerian Newspaper.  The following excerpt is from Friday November 21, 2008:

“In Warri, a woman and a young boy were shot, yesterday, by men of the Joint Task Force on the Niger Delta at Escravos in Delta State following a peaceful protest by Ugborodo youths against the Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) over job slots and contracts.

The two injured villagers were conveyed yesterday evening to an undisclosed hospital in Warri by the CNL for medical attention after the dust on the incident settled. However, a community source said seven persons were shot and gave their names as Ms Toju Akitikori, Messrs. John Toghanrose, Tony Mene, Samuel Mejebi and one Arubi all of whom are currently receiving treatment in various private clinics in Warri.

But Commander of the JTF, Brigadier-General Nanven Rimtip, who visited Escravos, yesterday, to assess the situation told Vanguard that some armed youths invaded the Chevron facility in Escravos and opened fire, forcing his men to shoot to defend themselves and the location.
He said he was not aware of any casualty on the side of the “attackers” but none of his men was injured.

Vice chairman of the Delta Waterways Security Committee (DWSC), Mr. Ayiri Emami, who is also a youth leader in Ugborodo, however, told Vanguard that it was not true that the protesting villagers carried arms or fired at the JTF operatives.

He said the community carried out a peaceful protest against the company for breaching the Memorandum of Understanding entered by both parties on the issues of job slots and contracts, adding that they came with boats.

He said when he got a call from a senior military officer that the youths were protesting with arms, he requested the officer to send his men to the scene and if anybody was found with arms, he (Ayiri) should be arrested.

Ayiri said the JTF operatives callously opened fire on the peaceful protesters, apparently with a mistaken notion that since armed youths hijacked a ship conveying goods for the Escravos –Gas-to-Liquid project, last weekend, they might have regrouped to attack the company.

But he said the protest should not have come as a surprise to the company because the community had made known its grievances before then, adding that it was because the company knew it was a peaceful protest that it offered to take the victims to the hospital for treatment.

Brigadier-General Rimtip who spoke to Vanguard from Escravos said: “If it was a peaceful protest as they claimed, then, why did they open fire on my men? They cannot fold their hands and watch while people are firing at them. Enough is enough.”

He said the situation was under control as at yesterday evening, a development which a furious Ayiri also confirmed, pointing out that he had contacted the governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan over the assault on his people by the JTF.

Vice-chairman of Ugborodo Community Trust, Mr. Isaac Botosan, who corroborated Ayiri’s claim told Vanguard that the soldiers shot into the community on sighting the peaceful crowd of protesting natives, saying many of the natives were now hiding inside the bush with varying degrees of gun shot injuries.

Mr. Botosan said the community could no longer guarantee a safe working environment for the continuation of the EGTL project following the unprovoked attack on their people.”

Read Full Article

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Closing Arguements for Bowoto v Chevron planned for Tuesday Nov. 25

Posted by sarahjinn on November 20, 2008

On Monday Chevron will present its final day of testimony and evidence. Closing arguments will be given on Tuesday, November 25 and jury deliberations will begin on Wednesday, November 26, the day before Thanksgiving. It’s unknown how long the jury will deliberate, but this landmark case could hear a verdict very soon.

We encourage those of you in the Bay Area  to quietly and respectfully observe the closing arguments on Tuesday to show your solidarity with the Nigerian plaintiffs who have worked so hard to bring their case to Chevron’s home town. Go to   450 Golden Gate, 19th floor Courtroom 10 in San Francisco. Court is in session from  8:30am-3:30pm on Tuesday November 25.

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Bowoto v Chevron Ends 3rd Week: Chevron Official Told Amy Goodman he paid the Military to Attack

Posted by sarahjinn on November 16, 2008

Last week in San Francisco’s Federal District Court, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was sited in a deposition given by Sola Omole, Chevron’s General Manager of Public Affairs in 1998.  In 1999, Goodman traveled to Nigeria to report on the May 1998 shooting that took place on the Parabe oil platform where Chevron sent in the notoriously violent Nigerian military to shoot unarmed protesters who were protesting environmental damage and lack of jobs. The incident led to the Ilaje villagers suing Chevron for human rights abuses.  In the video below Omole admits – for the first time – to Chevron paying and transporting the Nigerian military to the platform that day. Additionally, James Neku, Chevron’s head of security at the time, whose deposition was also read into court late last week admitted to being on the helicopter that brought the military to the platform.

This video is split into three parts. In the 2nd 3rd sections,   Justice In Nigeria Now Founder Laura Livoti and Nigerian Activist, Omoyele Sowore  who accompanied Amy Goodman and her then producer Jeremy Scahill to the Niger Delta,  discuss the historical nature of this unprecedented case:

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Nigerian Activist Ken Saro Wiwa Hanged thirteen years ago this week

Posted by sarahjinn on November 12, 2008

Ken Saro Wiwa Hanged by the Nigerian Government with 8 other activists:

October 10,1941 - November 10, 1995

Ken Saro Wiwa: October 10,1941 - November 10, 1995

This week marks the 13th anniversary of the death of famed Nigerian activist, Ken Saro Wiwa. On November 10, 1995 Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni activists, known as the Ogoni 9 were ruthlessly executed by the then Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha.  Wiwa and his colleagues were members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) who peacefully protested against Shell Oil and the Nigerian government for human rights abuses and environmental damage in their community.

Early next year, Wiwa’s son will have his day in court in New York when it will be decided whether or not Royal Dutch Shell will be held liable for their complicity for human rights abuses against the Ogoni people in Nigeria, including summary execution, crimes against humanity, torture, inhumane treatment, arbitrary arrest, wrongful death, assault and battery, and infliction of emotional distress. Similar to the case against Chevron currently being heard in the Northern California Federal District Court, the two cases against Shell were brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). In addition, the Shell cases will be tried under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). The cases also allege that the corporation violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, according to Earth Rights International, co-counsel for the case.

Wiwa was known for his ability to mobilize hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters that successfully drove Shell out of their community.  His death serves as a shift in Nigerian history when political and social unrest in the Niger Delta was addressed in a peaceful way to a gradual move toward a violent approach that faces the Niger Delta today. The current violence stems from decades of demands not being met, and corruption and divide and rule tactics that continue to tear the region apart. Violent responses were taken to new levels in 2006 with the formation of the well armed group – the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta known as MEND.

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SF Chronicle: No hostages on Chevron barge, expert testifies

Posted by sarahjinn on November 6, 2008

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

The former chief hostage negotiator for New York City police, testifying as an expert in a trial over the shootings of Nigerian villagers on a Chevron oil barge, said Monday that the villagers were not holding employees hostage and that the company should not have summoned the Nigerian military.

“This probably was not a hostage situation. It was more like a civil disobedience or a sit-in,” Hugh McGowan, who now teaches classes to law enforcement officers nationwide on hostage negotiations, told a federal court jury in San Francisco.  Go to Article

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

LA Times Reports on Larry Bowoto’s Testimony

Posted by sarahjinn on November 2, 2008

Protester testifies about Nigerian troops shooting him at Chevron facility

Larry Bowoto, whose suit accuses the oil giant of human rights violations, says he was shot four times although unarmed. He is the lead plaintiff in the legal action.

By Richard C. Paddock
October 31, 2008

Reporting from San Francisco — A Nigerian villager who is suing Chevron Corp. for human rights violations testified in federal court Thursday that he was shot four times by Nigerian troops at a Chevron oil platform even though he was unarmed.

“I saw military men jump off a helicopter, and as they jumped off they were shooting,” Larry Bowoto, 44, testified through an interpreter. “I was raising my hands [and shouting], ‘We are community protesters. We are for peace. Don’t shoot us.’ ”

Read Full Story

In May 2008 the LA Times published an op-ed by Larry Bowoto explaining the incident 10 years ago that led to the law suit currently underway in San Francisco. Read Mr. Bowoto’s Op Ed from May 2008

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