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Shell funded armed conflicts in oil-rich Niger Delta – Report

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Anglo-Dutch oil company, Shell Petroleum, has been found to be funding armed militants to destroy some towns in Niger Delta, according to a report by UK-based oil and gas watchdog, Platform.

Shell is one of the major oil producers in the Niger Delta, in Nigeria, Africa’s populous nation.

The report titled, “Counting the Cost: corporations and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta” reveals that Shell fueled human rights abuses in Nigeria by paying huge contracts to armed militants to indulge in conflicts.

“Counting the Cost implicates Shell in cases of serious violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region from 2000 to 2010,” the report says.

The report uncovers how Shell’s routine payments to armed militants exacerbated conflicts, “in one case leading to the destruction of Rumuekpe town where it is estimated that at least 60 people were killed,” said Platform in a statement citing the report released October 3, 2011.

According to the NGO, it has heard testimony and seen contracts that implicate Shell in regularly assisting armed militants with lucrative payments.

“In one case in 2010, Shell is alleged to have transferred over $159,000 to a group credibly linked to militia violence,” it says.

Findings of the report also revealed that Shell admitted that from 2006 onwards, it paid thousands of dollars every month to armed militants in the town of Rumuekpe, in the full knowledge that the money was used to sustain three years of conflict.

“A company manager exposes structural problems with Shell’s ‘community development’ programme, claiming that “the money is not going into the rightful hands,” and that poor community engagement caused Shell to shut down a third of its oil production in August 2011 after 12 oil spills in the Adibawa area, the report said.

Commenting on the report, Mr Ben Amunwa of Platform said “This research sheds new light on Shell’s active role in human rights abuses during a decade of terrible violence in the Niger Delta. Shell claims it has nothing to do with the crisis, but the company is involved in widespread abuses and militarisation.”

He adds “While Shell cites ‘security issues’ as a convenient excuse for its appalling environmental record, it has also failed to take the necessary steps to resolve conflicts. In many cases, Shell’s activities have created insecurity.”

NGOs from the UK, Netherlands and Nigeria are demanding that Shell puts an end to over five decades of social and environmental devastation and break its close ties with government forces and other armed groups responsible for abuses, Platform said.

The report was put together in collaboration with the Friends of the Earth International of Netherlands.

By Ekow Quandzie

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