June 8, 2009 - The Plaintiffs in the Wiwa v. Shell cases are pleased to announce a settlement of their claims. The settlement will provide $15.5 million to compensate the injuries to the Plaintiffs and the deaths of their family members, and will also create a trust for the benefit of the Ogoni people, as well as pay the costs of litigation.
This settlement only resolves the individual claims of the Plaintiffs for the injuries they have suffered and provides them compensation. We want the resolution of our individual claims to provide some benefit to the Ogoni community and thus agreed to the creation of The Kiisi Trust.
The settlement will create The Kiisi Trust. The name “kiisi” means “progress” in our Ogoni languages. This Trust will allow for initiatives in Ogoni for educational endowments, skills development programmes, agricultural development, women’s programmes, small enterprise support, and adult literacy. The settlement will also provide funds to compensate the Plaintiffs for their injuries.
The larger disputes between Shell and Ogoni remain and are beyond the scope of our settlement.
The decision to accept Shell’s offer came after lengthy and exhaustive deliberations by ten individual plaintiffs in consultation with our attorneys, but today we, Lucky Doobee, Monday Gbokoo, David Kiobel, Karalolo Kogbara, Blessing Kpuinen, James N-nah, Friday Nuate, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jr., Michael Vizor, and Owens Wiwa, have collectively agreed that it is time to move on with our lives and we have decided to put this sad chapter behind us.
Although our journey to this victory has been drawn out and emotionally draining, we are extremely satisfied with the result. For fourteen years and more we have suffered our loss privately and publicly but for the most part we have endured our pains away from the media spotlight. It has been a lonely, agonising and traumatic period for many of us but we were sustained in our grief by this lawsuit, holding out for the day when we might finally be given the opportunity to exorcise our grief.
It is said that justice delayed is justice denied but today our private agonies and our long struggle for justice have finally been vindicated and we are gratified that Shell has agreed to atone for its actions.
In accepting this settlement we were very much aware that we are not the only Ogonis who have suffered in our struggle with Shell, which is why we have insisted on a donation that will enable other members of our community to benefit from our victory.
We hope that the Kiisi Trust will be of real benefit to Ogonis now and in the future and to that end we urge our people to cherish and nourish the Kiisi Trust because it should stand as one legacy of the labours of our heroes past.
We have some brief messages:
- To our people, we say Ake, Beenu, Nonu, Sitam. The struggle continues.
- To the rest of our supporters and campaigners, we thank you for keeping us company and for your support for all these years, and the years to come.
- To Shell, we say that this is one more payment of the overall debt it owes to Nigeria. We acknowledge that there have been some changes in the company’s attitudes. The world has changed and Shell cannot afford to continue to do business as usual in Nigeria. Yet we hope that the lessons Shell has learned from its continuing encounters with the Ogoni will serve the company well. We note that Shell still faces further claims by Ogonis both individually and collectively.
- And to that end we wish to send a message to our dear brothers and sisters in the Niger Delta and in Nigeria that dialogue remains the most humane and creative option in the search for peace and a mutually beneficial coexistence.
And finally we want to thank the many people who over the years and more recently have encouraged and supported us. The messages have been inspiring and heartening. We want to especially thank the Center for Constitutional Rights, in particular Judith Chomsky and Jennie Green, who took on the case and never gave up despite so many setbacks. Justice in these cases is not a level playing field – the odds are stacked in favour of the corporations and this case highlights the need to level the legal playing field in issues like access to justice as well as the regime of rights and responsibilities that govern the global economy.
There are many others who we want to thank: Paul Hoffman, Anthony DiCaprio, EarthRights International, and the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll.
There are others who also facilitated and encouraged us and who we know would prefer to remain anonymous.
Wiwa v. Shell Plaintiffs
Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jr.
Read the full press release here. Read the plaintiff statement here.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.