The shocking news that all previous claims by Shell that they did nothing wrong with the highly contentious OPL 245 oil bloc deals were false hit Nigerians yesterday. Global Witness noted that in a statement to the New York Times, Shell’s Vice President for Global Media Relations, agreed that, “Over time, it became clear to us that Etete was involved in Malabu and that the only way to resolve the impasse through a negotiated settlement was to engage with Etete and Malabu, whether we liked it or not”. He added Shell knew that the Nigerian government “would compensate Malabu to settle its claim on the block”.
This momentous development happened because of intensive campaigns and research by Global Witness including the unearthing of some of Shell’s private emails on the deal.
“Over time, before time, or after time, is not the issue here,” notes Nnimmo Bassey, director of the ecological think tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF). “Getting the truth about deals, extent of oil pollution and sundry human rights issues in Nigeria has always been a hide-and-seek game. The company only admits wrongdoing when boxed into a corner. The admittance by Shell of knowingly participating in the huge OPL 245 oil scandal opens a new chapter in the understanding of exploitation without responsibility in the Nigerian oil sector,” Bassey added.
HOMEF recalls that over the years as questions were raised on the Malibu oil case, Shell stuck to the claim that its payments on the deal were only to the Nigerian government. With the revelation that such claims were false, the searchlight now turns squarely on the Nigerian government. The world waits to see what sanctions the Nigerian government will impose on Shell and all accomplices in this scandal.
“This development validates our conviction that the petroleum sector in Nigeria is extremely opaque and that the Nigerian people and the environment are perpetual victims while corporations and officers holding positions of public trust flourish in graft and wickedness,” sums up Comrade Che Ibegwura, a veteran Niger Delta activist and community organiser.
Cadmus Atake-Enade, Project officer, Fossil Politics
Telephone: +234 906 975 6927 & +234 817 370 6095
For more information see the statement by Global Witness, New Global Witness bribery scheme revelations force Shell to admit it knew payments would go to convicted money launderer