Justice In Nigeria Now!

For Human Rights, Environmental Protection and Community Livelihoods

Posts Tagged ‘Oil’

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

SF Chronicle: Chevron Faces Suit Over Nigerian Violence

Posted by sarahjinn on October 26, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Larry Bowoto’s left arm is still scarred and numb where a soldier’s bullet struck it in 1998 while he was aboard a Chevron oil platform in Nigeria. During the course of the incident, Bowoto was shot several more times, another man was wounded and yet another was killed. Go to Article

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

Chevron On Trial Starting Oct. 27 – Rally to Support Nigerian Plaintiffs

Posted by sarahjinn on October 16, 2008

Take the Day Off, Call in Sick, and Show Your Support for Nigerian Villagers Shot by Chevron

On October 27th, the 1st day of a landmark jury trial against Chevron in San Francisco, tell the company that you will not tolerate their human rights abuses in Nigeria or anywhere!

Join us at the Chevron gas station at the corner of 9th and Howard in San Francisco (1298 Howard St) in solidarity with Nigerian plaintiffs who are in Federal court nearby

from 12pm-1pm

Bring your friends and co-workers

Then: After the rally we encourage you to go to the San Francisco Federal courthouse at 450 Golden Gate, 19th floor Courtroom 10 to quietly and peacefully observe the proceedings brought by Nigerian villagers against Chevron from 1:30-3:30pm starting on October 27 and every day of the trial. (Monday through Thursday 8:30-3:30) Please note: This is NOT a “silent protest” it’s simply an act to show your support for the Nigerian plaintiffs with your presence. (Government issued ID required to enter the Federal Building)

For More Information Contact: info@JusticeInNigeriaNow.org or 415 575 5521 or go to: www.ChevWrong.org

This event is co-sponsored by:

Amazon Watch, Global Exchange, Rainforest Action Network Food and Water Watch , People’s Health Movement , Hesperian Foundation , Other Worlds, West County Toxics, Communities for a Better Environment, Burmese American Democratic Alliance, Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity, Asian Pacific Environmental Network – Laoian Organizing Project

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

CBS Rejects JINN’s attempt to buy a Bulletin Board Ad in San Francisco

Posted by sarahjinn on October 9, 2008

CBS Censors Human Rights Group, Rejects Bulletin Board Ad Critical of Chevron

(San Francisco, CA) Last week, human rights group Justice In Nigeria Now (JINN) attempted to buy two bulletin boards owned by CBS Outdoor critiquing Chevron Corporation’s human rights abuses in the oil producing regions of Nigeria. CBS Outdoor rejected the group’s advertisement on the grounds that the ad was “critical” and “negative.”

Artwork Rejected by CBS

Artwork Rejected by CBS

The ad submitted to CBS Outdoor contained the website ChevWrong.org and a parody of Chevron’s World of Chevron Cars Campaign, adding a military vehicle to the collection to depict Chevron’s role in paying the Nigerian military and transporting them to attack unarmed villagers. The ad reads: “There is nothing to love about Chevron fueling death in Nigeria,” playing on one of Chevron’s campaign slogans “Cars love Chevron with Techron” as seen on bulletin boards throughout the Bay Area. JINN contends that the public has a right to know about Chevron’s activities in Nigeria and in fact, Chevron’s links to the shooting of unarmed Nigerians is a matter of public record.

The upcoming lawsuit against Chevron – Bowoto v. Chevron -to be heard in U.S. Federal Court in San Francisco starting on Oct 27 has already addressed such attacks when the U.S District Court judge for the case, earlier this year, found evidence that’s Chevron’s personnel “were directly involved” in an attack on Chevron’s Parabe Platform in 1998 sufficient to allow the case to be heard by a jury. This incident involves Chevron paying, transporting and “closely supervising” the Nigerian military in a Chevron-leased helicopter who opened fire on unarmed villagers peacefully protesting the environmental problems caused by the company in their communities.

“The public has a right to know how this Bay Area-based company conducts business in Nigeria and elsewhere. Bulletin board ads are an effective form of conveying a message that reaches thousands of people each day. As a paying customer like any other with a factually true message, it is wrong of CBS to censor this ad,” stated JINN Coordinator, Sarah Dotlich.

San Francisco based Underground Advertising created the artwork for the ad. This is not the first time one of their clients has been rejected from displaying their ad on a bulletin board.

“When the only two choices are buying bulletin boards from CBS or Clear Channel, rejection is not
unexpected,” explained Charlie Cardillo, Creative Director for Underground Advertising. “These two companies have cornered the market, effectively shutting out public critique through this medium.”

“It becomes an issue of freedom of speech. We deserve the same rights as Chevron to display our factual message, this is clearly a form of censorship.” stated Dotlich.

Other groups have attempted to buy bulletin board ad space with a similar result. During the Republic National Convention, a group called Soldier Billboard Project entered into a contract with CBS Outdoor only to have their contract canceled a week before it was expected to run in St. Paul, MN. According to the New York Times

JINN is a San Francisco-based organization working in solidarity with communities in Nigeria and allies in the U.S. to hold multinational corporations accountable for their operations in Nigeria to act in a manner that respects human rights, protects and cleans up the environment, and enhances community livelihoods.

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, CBS, Censorship, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »