Justice In Nigeria Now!

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Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category

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.

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

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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:

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

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 »

The Economist: Test Case–How far can America’s legal system be applied to foreign human-rights cases?

Posted by sarahjinn on October 30, 2008

Under a grey sky on October 27th, Larry Bowoto provided an improbable splash of colour in his Nigerian agbada gown before the federal courthouse in San Francisco. He is the lead plaintiff in a case against Chevron, an oil giant based in California, over something that happened in May 1998 on a platform operated by Chevron’s Nigerian subsidiary, nine miles off the Niger Delta.

Bowoto v Chevron is likely to test how the American legal system can be applied to human rights in other countries. The civil suit is being brought under the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act, one of America’s oldest laws (it was signed by George Washington). The act allows foreigners to bring civil cases before American courts arising from violations of law or treaty anywhere in the world. It was invoked just twice before 1980, when it was used by a victim of state repression in Paraguay. Since then the act has been invoked in around 100 cases. In 1993 a case against Radovan Karadzic for crimes against humanity in Bosnia broadened its applicability to non-state actors. In 1996 a group of Burmese villagers brought a suit against Unocal, another oil company (subsequently bought by Chevron), over the use of forced labour by Burmese soldiers guarding the route of a gas pipeline. The case was settled in 2004. Go to Article

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

Media Roundup from Bowoto vs. Chevron, Witness Testimony Begins

Posted by sarahjinn on October 30, 2008

MercuryNews.com Protesters’ behavior at heart of trial on whether Chevron violated human rights

When Larry Bowoto returns to the witness stand in federal court here Thursday, he is expected to recount being shot several times by Nigerian forces called in and allegedly paid for by a Chevron subsidiary during a 1998 protest aboard a barge tethered to an offshore oil rig.

….

The Chevron case, which started this week and is expected to run into December, is shedding light on the tense politics along the Niger Delta around the company’s oil operations there, and claims of environmental damage from the companies drilling and dredging operations.

Chevron contends the villagers who boarded the barge were seen with knives, and that one threatened to set the barge aflame.

A barge worker from another village, Johnson Boyo, testified Wednesday that he saw no weapons and no intimidating tactics from the protesters, who reached the rig in about 30 small boats. Boyo, testifying for the plaintiffs, said soldiers flown onto the barge by helicopter began shooting, and that later he watched soldiers beating a young man with the butt of a gun.

The leader of a small military force that had been stationed aboard the barge yelled at them, Boyo testified.

“He shouted, ‘Stop, stop stop! The protest was peaceful,'” Boyo said.

Under cross-examination by a Chevron lawyer, Boyo acknowledged that he was among a different group of Nigerians who had boarded the barge two months earlier, seeking jobs. Following that protest, Boyo said, he was hired to work there.

Bowoto, the lead plaintiff in the case, wept, trembled and pressed a cloth over his eyes near the start of his testimony Wednesday when asked to identify Arolika Irowarinum in a picture.

Irowarinum was one of the two men killed in the attack. His three Nigerian widows, wearing traditional dresses and matching headscarves, cried from the front row of the gallery before Judge Susan Illston briefly halted the testimony.

Testifying through an interpreter, Bowoto said he was a coordinator of a group called Concerned Ilaje Citizens that was endorsed by elders of several Ilaje villages. He said the group was intent on a peaceful protest, and he insisted that no weapons or alcohol come aboard.

Bowoto testified that Chevron had denied their demand to meet with a general manager from Chevron Nigeria. The day before the attack, he said, the protesters planned to leave the barge the following day.

He said that he had been a fisherman, and that Chevron’s dredging had introduced salt water into a freshwater canal, affecting wells and killing fish and vegetation. As they approached the barge, Bowoto said, the protesters sang.

“All we are saying “… give us our rights,” Bowoto testified by singing in English. “All we are saying “… give us our jobs.”  Go to Article

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

Media Roundup from Bowoto vs. Chevron, Rally & Jury Seated

Posted by sarahjinn on October 28, 2008

Though the SF Chronicle and Huffington Post stories from the weekend still provide the best background, the start of the trial and rally attracted a wide variety of media coverage:

ABC 7 Many protest outside Chevron gas station

A Conflict that began 10 years ago on a Nigerian oil platform continues in a San Francisco courtroom. It happened about nine miles off the Nigerian coast. Now Chevron is being sued in federal court over how it resolved a hostage situation between its workers and local Nigerians who boarded that platform.  Go to Video

CBS 5 Nigerian and U.S. Human Rights Groups Protest at Chevron Station

An alliance of grassroots human rights groups from Nigeria and the U.S. gathered at a Chevron gas station in San Francisco today to show support for the Nigerian plaintiffs in a federal human rights trial that began today.

Organizers from Global Exchange, Justice in Nigeria Now, and West County Toxics Coalition, based in Contra Costa County, gathered about 100 anti-Chevron protesters in front of the company’s gas station at 9th and Howard streets in San Francisco early this afternoon. Go to Video

KCBS Chevron Goes on Trial in San Francisco Federal Court

A federal trial began Monday to determine if San Ramon-based Chevron was responsible for a deadly clash between Nigerian forces and locals occupying an oil platform ten years ago.

The trial in San Francisco federal court concerns the death of one protestor and the injury of several others who shut down the Parabe platform for three days before armed forces flew in on a Chevron contractor’s helicopters to respond. Go to Audio

SF Chronicle Jury Seated in Chevron Trial

… In court today, Chevron won permission to offer evidence of an alleged hostage-taking incident that it says supports its overall version of events. As Nigerian forces were shooting at some of the protesters, the company says, other villagers swam to a Chevron Nigeria tugboat and forced seven employees to take the craft to a village, where they were held captive for three days.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the incident, if it ocurred, was irrelevant to the questions of whether the shootings were justified and whether Chevron was responsible. But U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said the company could present the incident to try to show that the entire protest was a violent takeover. Go to Article

Reuters Chevron on trail for 1998 platform clash

… The dispute fits into a broader political discussion about the responsibilities of U.S. companies abroad. The head of a Senate subcommittee on human rights and the law argued last month at a hearing on corporate responsibility and natural resources that the issue was not “black and white.”

“There is no doubt that American oil, gas and mining companies operating in countries with poor human rights records face difficult challenges in protecting their employees and operations,” Sen. Richard Durbin said.

“However, when American companies choose to go into these countries, they assume a moral and legal obligation to ensure that security forces protecting their operations do not commit human rights abuses.” Go to Article

Law.com: Judge: Chevron Must Remove Paid Google Link Tied to Search of Plaintiff’s Name

A widely watched trial over Chevron’s Nigerian operations featured a new online frontier Monday in the battle to influence the hearts and minds of potential jurors.

While imposing a general gag order, Northern District of California Judge Susan Illston ordered Chevron to take down a paid Google link sponsored by the company. Plaintiffs objected to the link, which directed Internet surfers to a Chevron-created Web site that provided information about the incident at issue in trial. Go to Article

Oil & Gas Journal Chevron on trial in San Francisco for rights abuses

Chevron Corp. is at the center of a legal case before federal court in San Francisco that will ask jurors to decide whether the firm sanctioned human rights abuses that resulted in the deaths and injuries of protesters at its Nigerian facilities, or whether the company was simply protecting its employees from belligerent kidnappers.

The lawsuit—identified as Bowoto vs. Chevron, No. C99-2506SI (N.D. Calif.)—alleges that Chevron, in conjunction with the Nigerian military, engaged in torture, assaults, and the killing of two protesters over Chevron’s environmental record and its failure to hire locals in the delta region near its oil drilling operations. Go to Article

Market Watch: Amazon Defense Coaltion: High-Stakes Trial in San Francisco Focuses Attention on Chevron’s Growing Human Rights Problems Around Globe

Chevron’s recent high-profile hiring of William J. Haynes, a former Bush Administration lawyer implicated in the torture scandal at Guantanamo Bay, is the latest sign that Chevron’s legal department has become increasingly callous to human rights concerns, said Kevin Koenig, an organizer with Amazon Watch, which monitors the company’s human rights and environmental record. Go to Article

Market Watch: Amazon Watch: Chevron Asked to Disclose Relationship to Pat Murphy

The environmental group Amazon Watch today called on Chevron and the San Francisco-based writer Pat Murphy to divulge their financial relationship in light of disclosures that Murphy’s website accepts fees for editorial control of news articles written under Murphy’s byline. Go to Article

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

Follow the Blog on Huffington Post about Chevron on Trial in San Francisco

Posted by sarahjinn on October 27, 2008

Read and share the blog about the Chevron in US Federal Court in San Francisco for human rights abuses in Nigeria. Visit Huffington Post follow the blog

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »