The Fossil industry is criminal in many ways. One of them is in the way they use corruption to get exactly what they want. They corrupt and fuel the people they know will work towards their goals, no matter if they are farmers, police, community activists or state officials.
For many decades now Shell has been involved in a long series of human rights abuses and cases of corruption in Nigeria. In 1995 the company’s involvement in the murder of the Ogoni 9, a group of Ogoni activists who had been resisting Shell’s exploitation and destruction of their land, sparked international outrage. But the violence didn’t stop there.
Last Monday, Olanrewaju Suraju, one of Nigeria’s most prominent anti-corruption activists, was attacked in his home in Lagos. The heavily armed assailants physically attacked him and his wife who both had to be hospitalized and stole many personal belongings, including phones, laptops, bank cards and his car.
Why? He has long been at the forefront of holding Shell and Italian company ENI accountable for one of the biggest oil bribes in history: The companies paid almost 1.1 billion dollars to get their hands on an oil license, OPL 245. The money didn’t go to the Nigerian people, but into the hands of a few officials and members of government.
As Mr. Suraju starts calling them out and his European allies start going after the companies responsible, public officials in question retaliate and hit him with a diffamation lawsuit. If you have ever heard of the term SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation), this is one. It didn’t work. The facts are clear and Mr. Suraju is preaching the truth. This assault is the next escalating step from people fearing justice.
The fight against corruption is not merely a moralistic or ideological one. It is one with direct, potentially dire consequences on people’s lives and livelihoods. Stand with us against corruption.
If you want to learn more about this insane corruption case, you can find a small zine we have written on it here.
Olanrewaju Suraju works for HEDA Resource Centre. Find their website here.
Below you will find a press release by HEDA Resource Centre describing the incident in more detail:
Heavily Armed Assailants Attacked Lanre Suraju and Family: Car, Laptops, Phones and Bank Token Stolen; Attackers Threatened to Kill
LAGOS, Tuesday, 29th March 2022: Armed Men numbering 5 invaded the home of Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman of HEDA Resource Centre and carted away 5 phones including: 1 Samsung phone, 2 iPhones, 2 iPads; 2 Macbook pro laptops, a Dell laptop, a Toyota Corrola 2014 car, jewelries, ATM cards, cars keys, Bank Tokens, office documents among other valuables belonging to Mr Suraju and his Family. The assailants who were heavily armed with guns, knives and other dangerous weapons also threatened to kill Mr Suraju, physically hit him and his wife both of whom had to be hospitalised.
According to a statement issued in Lagos by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) and signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr Sulaimon Arigbabu, the assailants who were caught on CCTV camera invaded Mr Suraju’s home in Lagos at around 2:15 am on Monday, 28th March 2022, breached the Estate’s Security and burgled the security features in his house with sophisticated tools.
Currently, both the intent and the extent of the damage cannot be fully estimated yet, HEDA noted.
Mr Arigbabu said: “The assailants, who invaded only Mr. Suraju’s home out of other 220 buildings in the estate, collected all valuable items in the house and coerced Mr Suraju to provide all his security details including phone passwords, bank log-in details, laptops passwords, among others. The assailants then immediately gained access to his email, phone numbers including WhatsApp and other messaging platforms as well as bank platforms.
“To be sure, at the earlier moment after the invasion, the assailants were found deleting some of the CCTV footage through Mr Suraju’s phone before the camera was switched off by the family. However, the matter has been reported at the relevant Divisional Police Station in Lagos State.” He added, it is important to alert members of the public and all friends, families and well-wishers of the Surajus and HEDA not to act on any solicitation or strange broadcast/emails purportedly from Mr and Mrs Suraju. Any such message should be discountenanced for now.
HEDA said the development is both shocking and traumatizing for Suraju’s family and the organisation. HEDA expressed worry that the invasion may not be unconnected with the anti-corruption work of HEDA which Mr Suraju has been at the fore-front. HEDA noted that: “It is no news that corrupt elements both within and outside the government have continuously conspired to persecute the organisation and its Chairman, Mr Suraju, for blowing whistles and exposing perpetrators of various acts of grand corruption against Nigeria.
“Therefore, considering that the assailants did not only steal and inflict injury, they also threatened to kill Mr Suraju, this attack may be another dimension to the persecution of Mr Suraju by the corrupt individuals especially since all previous attempts to bring him down have failed.”
The organisation said it remains undeterred in its campaign against corruption and promotion of good governance, sustainable development and protection of human rights even as it goes through this trying period with Mr Suraju and his family.
HEDA, therefore, urges well-meaning State and non-State actors to rise up towards ensuring adequate protection for whistle-blowers and activists who have committed themselves to fighting corruption and impunity that are the bane of Nigeria’s development.
HEDA Resource Centre.