Wiwa v. Shell charges Royal Dutch Shell, plc with complicity in egregious human rights abuses against Ogoni people in Nigeria. Shell financed, armed, and otherwise colluded with the Nigerian military forces that used deadly force and conducted massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni, with a motive of restarting oil operations on Ogoni territory. Shell was also involved in a strategy that resulted in the executions of nine Ogoni leaders who were working for environmental justice and human rights, including internationally-acclaimed writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The Center for Constitutional Rights, EarthRights International and other human rights attorneys sued Shell for their role in the repression of the Ogoni and the executions of the “Ogoni Nine”.
The plaintiffs in the case include surviving family members of Ken Saro-Wiwa, John Kpuinen, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, Felix Nuate, Daniel Gbokoo, and Saturday Doobee, who were arrested, tortured, and eventually executed on November 10, 1995 along with three other Ogoni environmental and community leaders; Owens Wiwa, who was detained and tortured for his activities on behalf of the Ogoni; Karalolo Kogbara, a woman who was shot by Nigerian troops called in by Shell to guard personnel who were bulldozing her crops in preparation for a Shell pipeline; and James N-nah, whose brother Uebari was shot and killed, as he walked home from market, by soldiers from a Shell security team.
On June 8, 2009, on the eve of trial, Shell agreed to a settlement of all three lawsuits filed against it with the Plaintiffs. The settlement, whose terms are public, provided a total of $15.5 million to compensate the plaintiffs, establish a trust for the benefit of the Ogoni people, and cover some of the legal costs and fees associated with the case.
In addition to EarthRights International (ERI), counsel for the plaintiffs included Judith Brown Chomsky, Center for Constitutional Rights, Anthony DiCaprio, Paul Hoffman, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.