Witness: James Neku
“One military man to another”
James Neku was the Chevron security officer who flew aboard a company helicopter with Nigerian military personnel on the morning of May 28th, 1998. Questioned by plaintiffs’ attorney Barbara Hadsell, Neku described his initial briefing with the CNL crisis management team on the 26th of May. At this meeting, CNL operations manager Scott Davis recounted an ‘expatriate’ worker’s description of the events on Parabe. In the briefing Davis reported that the protesters were armed with “broken bottles, razor blades and debris from the barge. Some had pieces of red and white cloth tied to their bodies to make them look like juju men.” Neku was instructed to contact the Nigerian Navy to “request assistance of government and military to resolve the situation.” According to Neku, no representative of the ‘joint venture’ i.e. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was present: the request was made by CNL alone. At the same meeting, Davis announced that Deji Haastrup had returned from negotiations at Ikorigho and that the talks had broken down on the villagers’ demands for money.
James Neku flew out to Parabe platform on May 28th with Lieutenant Sadiq and a team of armed Mobile Police and Naval officers. As the helicopter landed, Sadiq apparently announced through a megaphone that this was a ‘peaceful operation’. As the soldiers scrambled down the stairs from the helipad to the barge deck, Neku stayed by the chopper. Moments later, he descended the stairs and was approached by Sadiq. The lieutenant told him that the soldiers had been attacked: Neku saw two bodies on the ground. He then notified Scott Davis that two men were gravely wounded. When asked if Captain Afolayan-the officer of security aboard Parabe-had confronted him about the raid, he had trouble remembering. He recalled Afolayan raising his voice, but couldn’t testify as to what he said or whether he was upset. [Remember, other accounts have Afolayan shouting at the raiders, telling them not to shoot.]
Neku never saw an Ilaje armed with any of the objects mentioned above. Nor did he see any evidence that the barge or platform has been destroyed or vandalized. When asked if he had heard that a GSF team aboard Parabe had been subdued by the protesters before the raid, he answered, “I was aware they were outnumbered.” Attacked? No. Did he ever ask Afolayan what has transpired aboard the barge? No. Even as one military man to another, who was there the entire time, wasn’t he interested in debriefing Afolayan?
No, he said, it didn’t seem necessary at that point.
Witness: Malcolm MacLeod
Deposed in [year?] in London
“Their own rules of engagement”
As head of Chevron Global Security division in the late 1990s, Mr. MacLeod was able to testify on CNL’s use of Nigerian military forces for corporate security. Apparently MacLeod was unconcerned by this arrangement (despite Nigeria’s human rights record) as he considered the GSF a “professional, disciplined force.” 70 GSF soldiers were employed and an even greater number of ‘spy police’. MacLeod trusted that these forces would “deploy under their own rules of engagement.”
MacLeod also described the Global Security Standards and Procedures, a set of guidelines issued to all Chevron entities. The guidelines stipulate that an incident like the March 1998 Itsekiri occupation of Parabe should have been reported to Global Security. Following the Itsekiri incident, MacLeod notified George Kirkland, CNL Managing Director, of CNL security chief Mike Uwaka’s negligence.
Witness: Ola-Judah Ajidibo
Deposed on 10.27.2005 and 10.28.2005 in Johannesburg, S. Africa
“Forced to apprehend”
Judah Ajidibo was a co-founder of the Concerned Ilaje Citizens and served as national coordinator. He spoke at length about the letters sent by the CIC to Chevron “to acquaint Chevron with the problems facing Ilajeland-maybe they were unaware…”
Judah assisted in preparing a book-length case study on the endemic problems of Ilajeland, Marginalisation of the Ilajes of Ondo State by Companies Prospecting for and Exploiting Crude Oil in the Area. This report was issued to the Ondo State government and the Ilaje traditional king. The CIC also attempted to deliver a copy to Deji Haastrup, who apparently declined to meet with them. A copy of the report was left with Haastrup’s security.
Judah then spoke about the negotiations between Deji Haastrup and the Ikorigho village elders on May 27th, the 3rd day of the Parabe occupation and the day before the military raid. Haastrup arrived in the late morning accompanied by assistant negotiator Sola Adebawo, a soldier and a driver. According to Judah, Deji stated that it was not within his power to approve the case study, but that George Kirkland was communicating with the U.S.A. to address their issues; all that Haastrup could do was reconsider the scholarship and job placement programs for CNL. He stated that he would bring a response from Chevron upper management when he returned for another meeting on 5.29. Judah stated that Haastrup was told that the protesters would leave the barge and Haastrup replied: “everything in the case study will be resolved if you leave the barge.”
After the meeting, Judah then went out to Parabe to inform the protesters that the elders would send boats out to evacuate them the next day. The seas were rough and Judah became sea sick, so he stayed aboard the tugboat where he arrived first and asked Methuselah [another Ilaje protester] to spread word on the barge. The next morning came the attack.
Cross-examination: Mittelstaedt cross-examined Judah, pressing him on the commandeering of the tugboat in the aftermath of the attack and attempting to establish that this was in fact a kidnapping. “Did you ever ask Captain David or the crew where they would like to go? You thought you could trade them for the people who had been arrested, correct?”
Judah gave the same answer four times: “We had two purposes: one for their safety and two, because we thought they would help us secure the release of the Ilaje on the barge.”
Mittelstaedt asked: “Does the phrase ‘forced to apprehend 7 men of Chevron’ mean anything to you?” Judah: “No.”
Mr. Mittelstaedt then confronted Judah with a letter drafted by the CIC which stated: “[We] undertook a peaceful protest at Parabe[…]asked the workers to stop working and they agreed[…]forced to apprehend 6 or 7 men of Chevron.” The letter had Judah’s signature.
Witness: Sola Adebawo
Deposed 2.22.2005 in Lagos
“They finally let us go”
Sola Adebawo was the public affairs representative for CNL and as such was familiar with the process by which CNL recognized community oil blocs as negotiating partners. Adebawo was assigned to assist Deji Haastrup in the negotiations with the Ilaje in Ikorigho on May 27th, the day before the raid on Parabe.
Adebawo stated that when he and Haastrup arrived, they notified the protesters on the barge that “now we have honored our side of the bargain” and asked them to leave. Apparently, their response was “things have changed, we have to stay while the meeting goes on.” Adebawo then testified that “things weren’t going too smooth and they held Deji and wouldn’t let him go.”
When pressed, Adebawo was actually rather vague on Deji’s alleged capture. First he claimed that Deji was sick to his stomach and needed to use the bathroom. While Adebawo seemed to suggest that the Ilaje restricted their movements, he never stated that the Ilaje refused to allow Deji to relieve himself: “We pleaded for a long time to allow us to return to the flow station. There was a request for CNL to reimburse the Ilaje for the logistical cost of the protest-I guess they finally let us go because Deji was the one to speak to management.”
Adebawo stated that they did agree to meet in Warre the next day to resolve the issue of reimbursement. Although he stated he was afraid he would be hurt, he didn’t observe anyone with weapons. On questioning, he admitted that the last words exchanged were, “Please let us go so we can discuss with management.” And they were allowed to go.
Two Ilaje accompanied the negotiators to the flow station where Adebawo was allegedly threatened: “We’ll deal with you.” He did not say who said this or why.
If you ask to leave and are permitted to leave, I don’t see how that is forceful kidnapping. Yet again, Chevron’s employees [and attorneys] seem determined to use the terms ‘kidnapping’ and ‘hostage’ as frequently as possible, no matter the reality of the situation.
Witness: Sola Omole
Deposed 01.16.2002 in London.
“We only work with host communities.”
As general manager of government and public relations for CNL, Omole reported directly to George Kirkland. He also traveled frequently to meet with Chevron HQ in San Ramon, CA and the International Relations division in Washington D.C. [Speaks to close relations between parent & subsidiary]
When asked about CNL’s previous negotiations with local communities and the Ondo State government, Omole admitted that ‘seating fees’ were standard operating procedure: CNL would reimburse the travel expenses of the community oil blocs. [This would seem to be the inspiration for the Ilaje protesters demand for reimbursement of their expenses.] Omole also explained the Federal policy on local employment: 60% of Chevron’s unskilled workforce was required to be drawn from the ‘catchment’ area around the facility. The areas immediately adjacent to Parabe were all Ilaje.
Regarding the CIC’s letters to CNL, Omole’s department declined to respond: “We didn’t know this group. We only work with host communities. This seemed like a copycat situation from the Concerned Itsekiri Citizens.” Omole did not contact the Ilaje king [Olubo] to verify if the CIC were legitimate.
Omole was then shown a letter sent to his office by the military administrator of Ondo State, calling for a meeting with the CIC on 5.7.98. Even in the light of this letter, Omole declined to look into the legitimacy of the CIC: “Of course State Government would support these demands-they support their own people.”