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No justice for Nigerian ‘Ogoni 9’ widows as Dutch Court throws out case against oil giant, Shell

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Four Nigerian widows whose husbands were hanged in 1995 by the late Military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, have had a case they brought against Dutch oil giant, Shell, for allegedly aiding “corrupt witnesses” testify against their late husbands, thrown out by the district court in The Hague on Thursday.

The husbands of the four widows, Esther Kiobel, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo, and Charity Levula, were executed following their protests against the company’s exploitation of the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

They were part of the famous ‘Ogoni 9’, a group of environmental activists who staged protests against the degradation of the region by oil companies operating there.

On November 10, 1995, the nine Nigerian environmental activists who were accused of murder by the Abacha junta, were executed under bizarre circumstances, following their incessant protestations on the degradation of the Niger Delta by Shell and other oil companies operating in the region.

The executed men who have come included writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine.

The women had jointly sued Shell for its alleged role in the “unlawful arrest, detention, and execution of their husbands,” for opposing the oil giant and the military government.

But in delivering judgement on the case, the Dutch Court ruled that there was “insufficient evidence to back their accusations,” with the judges deciding that their “evidence was not sufficient or verifiable enough to establish the culpability or involvement of Shell, or its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC),” and as such, the energy firm could not be held liable.

The widows had argued that the oil company had compromised witnesses who testified during past hearings, claiming that they had signed prepared statements and had been coached to incriminate the defendants, in return for the promise of payments and jobs.

Before their case was thrown out, another Dutch Court had, in 2019, handed the widows a rare win in their long-running battle by allowing the case to continue, but there was a proviso that they should prove Shell’s liability in the conviction and execution of their husbands.

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Nigeria: Zamfara state government wants gun licenses for residents over insecurity

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The Commissioner for information in one of Nigeria’s Northern states, Zamfara state says residents in the state can start approaching the police command in the state for gun licences.

The troubled state wants individuals to carry guns to defend themselves against armed gangs of kidnappers causing havoc in the country’s northwest.

The commissioner, Ibrahim Magaji Dosara in statement said the state governor had directed the state police commissioner to issue 500 gun licences in each of the 19 emirates in the state to those wishing to defend themselves.

“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers to secure basic weapons for defending themselves,” Dosara said.

The state also banned the use of motorcyles and selling of petrol in three districts and one emirate, in areas which are the most affected by banditry, Dosara said. The state is divided into emirates and the emirates into districts.

“Anybody found riding motorbike within the areas is considered as bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight,” said Dosara.

Gunmen, locally called bandits, have been attacking and killing thousands of people in the country’s North-west since 2017. These assailants have attacked rural dwellers, destroyed their farmlands and in many cases only allow them to the farm after they have paid protection fees. They have also targeted travellers across the region in what some analysts say is one of the most lucrative kidnap-for-ransom syndicates in the continent.

Owning a gun in Zamfara needs permission from the state governor and state police commissioner.

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Ex-Liberian rebel warlord charged in US over attempt to obtain citizenship fraudulently

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A former commanding general of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), a notorious rebel group during the West African country’s civil war, Moses Wright, who had sought asylum in the US has been charged with fraudulently attempting to obtain US citizenship, among other crimes.

According to the United States Justice Department, the 69-year-old Wright lied about his involvement in the persecuting and killing of non-combatants during the war when he applied for US citizenship.

If convicted, Wright faces a maximum possible sentence of 165 years in prison and a $7m (£5.7m) fine, according to the JD.

“The United States will not be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” the United States Attorney, Jacqueline C. Romero, said on the indictment of Wright.

The indictment of Wright comes after two other former combatants in Liberia’s civil war, Mohammed Jabbateh and Thomas Woewiyu, were convicted in the US for similar offences while a third rebel leader, Sekou Kamara, was arrested earlier this year in New York.

The AFL was responsible for death of an estimated 250,000 Liberians which amounted to around 8% of the population at the time, in the war which started from 1989 to 1997 and in 1999 to 2003, according to a report by the Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in late 2021, which described the AFL as a “significant violator group found to be behind some of the civil war’s largest scale massacres.”

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