SHELL must have been shocked by its shareholders' recent rejection of the multimillion pound executive share awards proposed by the oil giant's remuneration committee. It is launching an unprecedented road show to present to its shareholders which will explain why it feels the awards are justified. Shell has other, very different, worries in a New York court room this week when events in Nigeria in 1995 will be under review. When Shell began drilling for oil in the Nigerian territory occupied by the Ogongi people it did so with the support of the military government of the time. However, for various reasons, the local people were opposed to this development and their resistance was led by the author and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The military intervened with a heavy hand and Saro-Wia and eight others were arrested and tried on trumped-up charges and sentenced to death. In a written appeal which he was not allowed to deliver Saro-Wiwa predicted that one day Shell would be brought to justice. Fourteen years later in New York, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jr. and other Ogongi people will be presenting a civil lawsuit against Shell for crimes against humanity. Shell vigorously denies that it took the military government's side or played any active part in Saro-Wiwa's death. The case will be watched with close interest by many major international companies involved in development activities against the wish of local people.
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