Relatives of nine activists killed by the Nigerian government in 1995 are hailing the Shell oil company's agreement to pay $15.5 million in compensation.

A spokesman for Nigeria's Ogoni people, Bariara Kpalap, told reporters Tuesday that the oil giant, together with Nigeria's then-military government, inflicted much suffering on the minority group.  

He said Shell still has to address pollution, neglect and degradation in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region.

Nigeria executed poet Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni members in 1995 for leading protests against the oil giant's presence in the Niger Delta.

Ogoni activists accused the oil company of complicity in the killings.   

Shell agreed to the $15.5 million settlement in New York on Monday, a week before a U.S. trial against the corporation was to begin.

The company denied any wrongdoing, but acknowledged the suffering of the victims.

The settlement brought an end to a more than decade-long legal battle by relatives of the protesters.

The protesters said Shell had damaged the region's environment and abused the rights of the Ogoni ethnic minority. They also accused Shell of colluding with the government in punishing those who spoke out against the oil company.

The money from the settlement will be used to help compensate families, pay legal fees, and establish a trust for social programs in Nigeria.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.