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Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 10:54 UK

Nigeria's removal of Shell hailed

An oil rig in Nigeria
Protests have led to cuts in oil production in Nigeria

Shell's removal from the controversial oil fields in Nigeria's Ogoniland has been welcomed by the son of executed anti-pollution activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Ken Saro-Wiwa Junior, a spokesman for Nigeria's president, told the BBC it was a sign that the government was listening to the Ogoni people.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'adua said earlier that another company would replace Shell by the end of 2008.

Shell pulled out of Ogoniland in 1993 following community protests.

The campaign against environmental degradation and poverty led to Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution in 1995 after a hasty trial under Nigeria's military rulers.

In protest, the European Union imposed sanctions until 1998 and the Commonwealth suspended Nigeria's membership for three years.

The protests later spread to the rest of the oil-producing Niger Delta, with oil installations attacked, pipelines blown up and oil workers kidnapped.

'Win-win solution'

Mr Saro-Wiwa Junior said Shell's removal from Ogoniland would send a signal to the rest of the volatile region that dialogue was the way forward.

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"The federal government is willing to listen," he said.

He said that environmental concerns were now being addressed through talks, pointing out that his his father had campaigned on a non-violent platform.

But Mr Saro-Wiwa stressed that it was not the end of the struggle.

"Victory will be when we have sustainable development not just in Ogoniland," but in the whole of Nigeria, he said.

He added that a "win-win solution" should now be found for all the parties involved.

No notification

On Wednesday, President Yar'adua said Shell would be replaced by another company by the end of the year.

Shell suspended its operations in Ogoniland in 1993, leaving large quantities of oil and gas still in the ground.

The government in Abuja says that nobody was benefiting from the current stalemate and it will choose a company acceptable to the Ogoni people.

With oil prices this high, the government is clearly tired of the stand-off, the BBC's Alex Last in Nigeria says.

Shell says it has received no formal notification of any government decision concerning its interest in the area.

Negotiations may continue behind closed doors, our correspondent adds.


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