Four women whose husbands were unlawfully executed by Nigeria’s military government in the 90s have sued Shell for their involvement in the executions.
The case was spearheaded by Esther Kiobel, the widow of Dr. Barinem Kiobel, who has been pursuing justice for 20 years alongside Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo, and Charity Levula.
Esther’s husband was killed in 1995 along with human rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and seven other persons, all known as the Ogoni Nine.
According to Amnesty International, Shell had been shying way from its involvement in the death of these people but for Esther who through determination brought it up again.
Protests by the Movement of Survival of the Ogoni People led by Ken Saro-Wiwa against Shell asking them to stop pumping oil from under their soil led to the death of these men.
With streams polluted and environment degraded, MOSOP asked Shell to stop their operations in 1993. This resulted in unlawful arrests, detentions and executions of these men without evidence.
Esther Kiobel is demanding for damages for the harm caused by Shell’s unlawful actions, and a public apology for the role that Shell played in the events that led to the deaths of their husbands.
Although, Esther’s late husband was not a member of MOSOP, he had been against military actions in Ogoniland. Esther Kiobel says that while visiting her husband in prison, she was attacked by a military commander, who detained her for two weeks in detention without food and water.
After her husband’s death, Esther fled to Benin for her life, and in 1998 she was granted asylum in the United States, where she still lives. Meanwhile, Shell Nigeria has always denied these allegations, stating that they, in no way encouraged community unrest or advocated any act of violence in Nigeria.