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.
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: Alien Tort, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Niger Delta, Nigeria, Oil | Leave a Comment »
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
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: Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Niger Delta, Nigeria | Leave a Comment »