Appeals Court Rules against Shell Nigeria, Allows Plaintiffs to Seek Further Information to Establish Connections to United States

New York, June 3, 2009 — Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the District Court decision dismissing the Wiwa v. Shell plaintiffs’ claims against Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Ltd. (Shell Nigeria).  The District Court had dismissed the case against Shell Nigeria on March 4, 2008, finding it did not have jurisdiction over the company because the plaintiffs had failed to establish that Shell Nigeria was doing sufficient business in the United States to justify trying them in U.S. courts.  The effect of the appellate court decision is to permit the plaintiffs to seek further information to establish Shell Nigeria’s connections to the United States.

“This is yet another victory in the plaintiffs’ long struggle for justice,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Cooperating Attorney Judith Brown Chomsky.  “This is another step in holding Shell Nigeria accountable for its role in the human rights violations in Ogoni.”

The case, which concerns the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders and other abuses against the Ogoni people in Nigeria, has been continued several times.  There is no information at the moment about what the next steps in the case will be.

The case, filed in 1996, is being brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and EarthRights International and other human rights lawyers, on behalf of relatives of murdered activists.  The case charges the defendants with complicity in the November 10, 1995, hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other leaders opposed to Shell’s pattern of human rights and environmental abuses in the Niger Delta.  The case also include claims for the torture, detention, and forced exile of Mr. Saro-Wiwa’s brother, Dr. Owens Wiwa, and Michael Tema Vizor; and the shooting of Karololo Kogbara and Uebari N-nah in two earlier attacks on peaceful protestors by Nigerian military.

For more information about the case, please visit