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Why UK allegedly protected Nigeria from trade sanctions – Report

Documents have shown how the British government protected Nigeria from trade sanctions in the interest of Shell.



UK, trade, sanctions, Nigeria, Ogoni-9 killings: How UK protected Nigeria from global sanctions in Shell’s interest

Documents have shown how the British government protected Nigeria from trade sanctions in the interest of Shell. Britain allegedly shielded Nigeria after the late military ruler, General Sanni Abacha hanged Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other members of Nigeria’s Ogoni community for protesting against the company’s operation in the ’90s.

It disclosed that the UK government delayed and spoke against sanctions such as oil embargo and trade sanctions as it posed a risk to the operations of Shell if approved. Shell was considered as one of the major investments of UK that could be affected.

Shell wants oil spillage case tried in Nigeria, but victims say no, UK court ruling affects acquisition of Shell’s oil block by Governor Wike 

South Africa’s former President, late Nelson Mandela, criticised the 1995 killing of the Ogoni 9 that protested against energy firms in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Mandela suggested trade sanctions and oil embargo was the best response to the killing but the UK stood in the way until Abacha died in 1998. This recent revelation was made known by documents declassified and reported by dailymaverick.

How UK prevented sanctions: While UK government condemned the killing in public, calling for a “fundamental and lasting change in the way Nigeria is governed”, the officials of the UK government were moving in a different path that led away from actions that reflect justice for the Ogoni 9.


Britain gathered a list of UK investment which summed up their value to £5 billion. Shell at the time was producing half of Nigeria’s two million barrels per day output and was “interested in Nigeria’s gas reserves” and was close to having “the largest industrial project in Nigeria this century,” one file stated.

[READ MORE: U.S companies in Nigeria created over 3 million jobs, generate N1.4 trillion revenue- ABC)

The UK also compiled a list of possible sanctions after the killings, listing sanctions that would affect its interest, most especially Shell’s commercial operation.

The prime minister’s office was told by the private secretary to foreign secretary, Malcolm Rifkind that, “We believe we should hold in reserve for the time being any measures of this kind—which would of course place a disproportionate burden on the UK because of our close ties with Nigeria.” Freezing financial assets of Nigerian leaders was also mentioned.

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Part of UK’s consideration was to position the sanction as a negative impact on the poor population in Nigeria although UK was more worried about Shell’s interest than it was of Nigeria. The Prime Minister’s private secretary, Edward Oakden, considered if the same argument used to avoid boycott against South Africa’s apartheid government could be employed. The argument was, sanctions would “hit hardest the poor people least able to cope.”

Ogoni-9 killings: How UK protected Nigeria from global sanctions in Shell’s interest

Late Ken Saro Wiwa

In order to put pressure on the UK government to support sanctions, Mandela told the UK Prime Minister, John Major, via phone on November 18, 1995, to cut off trade with Nigeria. Although, the PM replied that, “we would consider this”, he said he “did not have a closed mind about trade sanctions.” UK kept holding off Mandela on the two occasions (including 28 November 1995) they interacted on the matter of sanctions against Nigeria.

A week after the execution, Conservative peer, Lynda Chalker had told senior Shell executive, John Jennings, that UK was “resisting pressure coming from the South Africans and some European partners for further economic sanctions” on Nigeria.

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It kept close contact with Shell executive, including the then-managing director of Shell Nigeria, who stated that the company was “obviously very concerned that Ogoni hot heads could react to targets of opportunity”. A note shared with the UK High Commission said in the declassified files.

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Plan to rebrand Shell’s public image: With Shell’s image under scrutiny, the UK government weighed options on how to present the company to the public in order to avoid boycott due to its involvement in the case that led to the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni members. Chalker opined that Shell should “broadcast the facts about their wider contribution in Nigeria.”

The UK government also tried to pass a letter by Shell to Mandela through a third-party in order not to be assumed it’s taking Shell’s side. The letter conveyed the importance of Shell to Nigeria. “It should be passed to him [Mandela] but not specifically by us. We don’t want to appear to be endorsing Shell’s position”

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[READ ALSO: ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron delay $58.4 billion oil and gas investments in Nigeria)

Shell refused to take the blame for the oil leaks, stating in the letter that the leaks were caused by “sabotage”, adding that it was spending $120 million on environmental, health and education projects in Nigeria that year. This revelation by Shell’s letter impressed the UK government, with Oakden stating that he was “struck by the size of Shell Nigeria’s annual expenditure on environmental projects”.

Just like Mandela, Sweden also interceded, calling for global sanction, but Britain said the Swedes were being self-righteous. Sweden’s social democratic government had called for a “package of sanctions which would make a real impact on the Nigerian regime, not just play to the domestic gallery,” demanding more than visa restrictions and an arms embargo.

The late Nelson Mandela

But in response, British diplomats said, “Bloody cheek, Swedish – Nigerian trade = 0”, while another claimed it was “The Swedes at their sanctimonious worst. They used to behave like this over South Africa.” Another UK official said, “Unbelievable. On second thoughts, all too believable. I constantly underestimate the Nordic capacity to posture, while others bear the practical consequences.”

The talk for decisive sanctions like oil embargo continued to be tossed around until General Abacha died in June 1998 before the international community could reach agreement on oil sanctions. It was disclosed that days before Abacha died, European Union was deliberated on the matter again.


Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Stanley

    January 3, 2020 at 7:41 am

    Of course, most western powers always put their national interests first in most of their diplomatic relations. African countries should also learn to do the same if they want to move forward because Europeans, Americans and the Chinese would not abandon their own national issues and interests to develop us.

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Only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real – SBM Intel

The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.



As the country and indeed, the rest of the world continues to be ravaged by the pandemic, only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real. While 39.9% of Nigerians say they will take the vaccine, 63.3% are opposed to another lockdown.

These and more details were disclosed by SBM Intel, a geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm in its recent Covid-19 report titled, ” Covid in Nigeria: The Second Wave”.

“The age demographics of the correspondents for the survey were chosen across a broad age category., “The majority of the respondents were between 28-40 years (36.7%) followed by those between 18-27 years (24.0%), then 41-55 years (22.2%) which represents the active (working) population. 9.5% of the respondents were older than 55 years, and a smaller percentage, 7.7% were younger than 18 years,” the report revealed.

If Corona is real…

  • The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.
  • Ekiti, Enugu, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Sokoto states had less than 50% of their respondents stating that the virus is real. These states have relatively low official death rates, Ekiti (7), Enugu (21), Kogi (2), Nasarawa (13) and Sokoto (20) compared to states with high death rates as Lagos (250), the FCT (106) and Edo (117).

An interviewee said: “The virus is real, but does not believe that it is present in Nigeria because people are not dying and they are not observing most of the precautions.”

  • The report disclosed that most people of all age categories don’t deny the existence of a virus, however, people who are older than 55 years have the highest percentage of respondents who are unsure of the existence of coronavirus, citing reduced social interactions and smaller circles which keeps them away from contact with infected persons.

If people are taking the right steps to prevent the virus

Despite the fact that over 68% of the respondents believe that the virus is real, 59.5% of the respondents representing a majority of the respondents do not think that people are taking the right measures to prevent COVID-19.

  • “More interestingly, in some public institutions like banks and eateries where private security personnel enforces compliance with mask-wearing and hand sanitizing, people tend to comply just because such enforcement serves as an entry ticket. Researchers observed that once many people got into such premises, they took off their masks and started to flout other precautionary measures.

Covid-19 vaccinations 

  • “Only 39.9% of the respondents said they will take the vaccine. An almost equal proportion of respondents (35.9 %) said they will not take the vaccine which the government announced is to arrive in the country at the end of January, and 24.1% are unsure of their position at the moment.
  • Reasons for not wanting to receive the vaccine include mistrust with the government and religious beliefs.
  • “Some respondents held that it is a religious war to contaminate the children of God with evil substances. Some believe that the vaccines are a tool to depopulate Nigeria, while others expressed concern about the effectiveness ratio and the side-effects that the vaccine might have,” SBM said.

In case of another lockdown

  • 63.3% of Nigerians are opposed to another lockdown. The report cited the number is much lower than the past report which revealed 90.24% were opposed to the idea of another lockdown.
  • 15.1% are on the fence on this issue and only 21.6% of the respondents would support another lockdown.
  • Opposition to lockdowns was linked to economic and security impacts witnessed during the previous lockdown as the economy contracted to lead to unemployment and increased hardship for Nigerians.

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government said that Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts rumouring of the possibility of another lockdown.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari already disclosed in October 2020 that the Nigerian economy is too fragile to go into another lockdown.
  • Professor Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education & Services, said the Federal and States governments should not impose a lockdown, but rather focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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COVID-19: FG to acquire vaccines that need less cooling

The FG has stated that it is in talks with Russia and India to procure vaccines that are less dependent on cooling facilities.



Covid-19: AstraZeneca vaccine gets huge boost, produces immune response in elderly, Vaccine, COVID-19: Russia to roll out vaccine in September ahead of the West 

The Nigerian Government says it doesn’t plan to over-invest in Covid-19 vaccines that require extra cold storage and that it will prioritize vaccines that don’t require much cooling.

This was disclosed by Faisal Shuaib, National Primary Health Care Development Agency Chief in a briefing with newsmen on Tuesday reported by Reuters.

“Our plan now is not to over-invest on ultracold equipment for vaccines like that of Pfizer vaccines, but go for vaccines that need less cooling facilities.

“We are currently engaged in talks with Russia and India to get more vaccines,” he said.

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported earlier this month that the Federal Government stated that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) with its partners, is working to fix healthcare value chain roadblocks that may affect the fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
  • The FG also disclosed through the NPHCDA its initial distribution plan for vaccines with the highest share of vaccines going to Kano State 3,557; Lagos 3,131; Katsina 2,361; Kaduna 2,074; Bauchi 1,900; Oyo 1,848; Rivers 1,766; Jigawa 1,712; Niger 1,558; Ogun 1,473; Sokoto 1,468; Benue 1,423; Borno 1,416; Anambra 1,379; Zamfara 1,336; Delta 1,306.

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Covid-19: Oxygen demand in Lagos State has risen 5 times – Sanwo-Olu

Governor Sanwo-Olu has lamented the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos as the demand for oxygen increases by 5 times.



The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has warned that the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos has seen the demand for oxygen rise 5 times from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders at Yaba Mainland Hospital alone.

The Governor also urged that all malaria-like symptoms should henceforth be considered as COVID-19 virus infection unless and until proven not to be so.

This was disclosed in a statement released by the Lagos State Government on Tuesday.

“Over the last few weeks, the demands for oxygen has risen from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders in our Yaba Mainland Hospital. This is projected to more than double to 750 six-cylinders, before the end of January 2021,” the Governor said.

He added that the State Government has decentralized provision of oxygen and other services needed for Covid-19 patients, citing provision of oxygen kiosks.


“ln addition to providing oxygen at our isolation centres, the Lagos State Government has decentralized the availability of oxygen across the State through the provision of 10 oxygen and sampling kiosks. Oxygen therapy and other related services will be provided to patients that require them.

“Five of these 10 oxygen centers have been commissioned while the remaining five will be ready for use within the next four weeks. It is our expectation that these sampling kiosks would be easily accessible to residents that require oxygen therapy at the level of LGAs as stabilization points prior to onward transmission to our Isolation centres, if required.

“This strategy is to further increase the fighting chance of Lagos residents that have contracted the virus and require immediate oxygen therapy,” he stated.

The Governor said that Lagos is closely monitoring plans by the FG to acquire vaccines and said the State has also resumed discussion with potential manufacturers. He also said the State is building its own regulatory framework for vaccine distribution.

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“We are closely monitoring ongoing action by the Federal Government to procure COVID-19 vaccines for use in Nigeria. We have also opened discussions with vaccine manufacturers so that when the vaccine comes eventually we can ensure that Lagosians are catered for.

“In the meantime, we are developing a strategy that will articulate the criteria, guidelines and regulatory framework for providing and monitoring vaccinations in Lagos.

“The Lagos State Government is actively partnering with the private sector in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the areas of testing, oxygen deployment, as well as the clinical management of moderate to severe cases. These partnerships have helped enhance the State’s response to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic,” Sanwo-Olu added.

What you should know 

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  • The Lagos State Government earlier disclosed that its bed occupancy levels at its public and private COVID-19 care centres increased to 51 per cent.
  • The Federal Government also alerted Nigerians that hospitals across the country are running out of facilities to handle more serious cases of coronavirus infections as the virus is spreading fast with mild symptoms in some victims and severe illnesses and death in others.
  • Nairametrics recently reported that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, announced the sum of N10 billion for the production of vaccines in Nigeria, to fight the coronavirus.

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