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Nigeria: Chevron Implicated Over Military Killings

US Lawyer Implicates Chevron Over Military Killings In Nigeria

By Akanimo Sampson, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

MORE than five years after some soldiers working for Chevron, an American oil and gas super major allegedly sacked Opia and Ikenyan in Warri North Local Government Area of Nigeria's Delta State, a United States (US) Lawyer, Barbara Enloe Hadsell, has implicated the oil company in the killings and destruction that took place in the rural fishing communities on January 4,2000.

The US lawyer is alleging that Chevron paid a military officer N15,000 for the army raid, which left four villagers dead and around 70 others “missing”. This is coming to light as part of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims in US District Court in San Francisco.

But the oil company has deny any responsibility for the death that occurred in the rustic fishing communities. Chevron’s spokesman, Charles Stewart, says the payment reflects ''a longstanding industry practice of paying a small amount for each day” to military personnel who protected “the people and the property of oil companies located in the Niger Delta”.

In a swift reaction, Environmental Rights Action (ERA) says the evidence (receipt for the N15,000) produced by the US lawyer has given credence to their claim that transnational oil corporations were behind the violence in Nigeria’s oil region.

ERA’s Field Monitor, Osas Omokaro, who spoke,said the evidence will fire human rights activists working in the Niger Delta to look deeper into the activities of the oil and gas companies in the area.

Hadsell, who is the attorney for the victims of the Opia and Ikenyan military raid, said that in addition to paying the armed security forces, Chevron also loaned them the helicopter that was used in the attack. She also added that Chevron personnel not only accompanied the soldiers as they flew to Robin creek, but equally directed the pilot to “deviate from his course” to pursue villagers who were “getting ways”.

“That’s complete Chevron involvement”, the US lawyer added.

Stewart, the oil company’s spokesman has however, admitted that their subsidiary in Nigeria helped transport the military reinforcements to a rig after gunfire was allegedly heard on the radio. He also acknowledged that a Nigerian military officer on board one of the helicopters “discharged a gun during flight”.

According to him, Chevron did not authorize the weapons to be fired and that it occurred when no village was in sight, adding, “we are confident as the case progresses, Chevron will be vindicated”.


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