Injustice remains a sore point in Ogoniland 26 years on
By Osa Okhomina, Yenagoa and Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt
President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent statement to leaders in the Niger Delta region who visited him at the presidential villa that his government will consider pardoning late human rights activist Ken Saro Wiwa has rekindled memories of the injustice suffered by the Ogoni on their land, environmental degradation and political repression that led to his trial by a military tribunal and his hanging along with eight other people.
The heirs to Saro Wiwa’s cause, political leaders and human rights activists respond to President Buhari’s consideration for a pardon, with their own demands not only for the late activist’s total exoneration, but also a formal apology to the people of all of Niger. Delta region for the injustice they suffered at the hands of the state.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP on Sunday in Port Harcourt, environmental rights activist Reverend Nnimmo Bassey said everything about the circumstances that led to the execution of Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders was clearly unfair.
The late environmental rights activist, Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa was hanged along with eight other Ogonis on November 10, 1995, after they were reportedly convicted of murder by a special tribunal set up by the regime. former Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha.
In addition to being a successful writer, Saro-Wiwa was active in politics. He criticized the federal government for exploiting the oil resources of his tribe’s traditional homeland in Rivers State.
He was a founding member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the author of the Ogoni Bill of Rights and the main opposition leader in the early 1990s.
Saro-Wiwa paid a heavy price for his activism. He has been detained several times. He was arrested in May 1994 for alleged incitement to murder. A long and heartbreaking trial ensued. Eventually, he was sentenced to death and hanged alongside eight other activists in November 1995.
His case drew international attention to the cause of the Ogoni people, although the solidarity campaign was not strong enough to prevent the execution of the âOgoni Nineâ.
Bassey said: âEverything in the circumstances that led to the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders was clearly unfair. The trial was a sham and the judgment was not based on any form of objectivity.
âThe Patriots were hanged even before the deadline for appeal had expired. Injustice remains a sensitive point not only in Ogoniland but among all people of conscience around the world.
He said the right thing for President Muhammadu Buhari to do was not to exonerate Saro-Wiwa and others, but to exonerate Saro-Wiwa and others.
apologize on behalf of the government for wrongly executing the disowned environmentalist.
For his part, a lawyer, Chukwuma Okirie, said that the trial and execution of Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders continues to generate a sense of injustice in the Niger Delta region.
Okirie said: âI think there is still a feeling of injustice in the trial and execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa in the Niger Delta because we all know he broke due process. Since it did not follow due process, it was inherently unfair.
âThe whole system that led to his execution was unfair. It was against national law, it was against international law. It was kangaroo justice and will therefore remain unjust.
âPresident Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to grant pardon to Saro-Wiwa and eight others only bends to sentiment. His death is an injustice to his family, the Ogoni people and the people of the Niger Delta.
For his part, Ogoni leader Goodluck Diigbo said what the people of Ogoni expected from Buhari was exoneration and not forgiveness, as the late Saro-Wiwa and others never committed a crime.
Diigbo said: âBuhari has a number of options to choose from when it comes to what to do with his time; Diigbo noted, but said: âHis sudden change might suggest a change of mind.
âBuhari’s allusion to forgive rather than exonerate Saro-Wiwa of a similar gesture by the Anglo-Royal Dutch / Shell Oil Company towards certain members of the murdered Ogoni Nine families. Shell managers offered them $ 15 million in New York; uninfluenced by moral conscience, justice and remorse.
âI had a whole night of conversation with General Victor Malu. Buhari’s influence bore the brunt of life and death in the Abacha regime. He accepted a high risk of controlling and using power. Now a change of mind is quite unfathomable. I understand the reason; he knows that Saro-Wiwa lives.
âIt was a bad calculation because it led to a bad result. It was believed at the time that the state was assassinating a prominent writer and environmentalist; challenge the world; would project the regime onto the rest of the universe; like very strong.
Ijaw National Congress President (INC) Professor Benjamin Okaba and renowned environmentalist Comrade Morris Alagoa called on the federal government to right the wrong done to the people of the Ogoni Kingdom and to the entire Delta of Niger for the alleged murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa in November 1995.
Professor Okaba said the government should apologize to the people of Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta for the alleged wrongful murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa in November 1995.
According to Okaba, Saro-Wiwa’s last words, “You can kill the messenger, but not the message,” remained highly relevant several years later as Ogoniland, the Ijaw nation and the entire Niger Delta continued. to suffer injustices, inequalities and rape. of their freedom and their right to control their divine resources.
He added: âThe people and the environment of the Niger Delta, despite the apparent interventions, have remained in a state of misery to the point that the local economy has been dislocated.
âDespite our enormous contribution to the national economy, the standard of living in our region is demoralizing and degrading. State land use laws, Oil Industry Law, Petroleum Law, and other heinous policies have perpetually enslaved us and impoverished us amidst our divine resources in the world. region.
Comrade Morris Alagoa, who is a renowned environmentalist and State Coordinator of Action for Environmental Law / Friends of the Earth (ERA / FoEN) called on the federal government to make every Ogoni a proud Niger deltan and human being.
In his response, Comrade Morris ALagoa noted that Ken Saro-Wiwa’s legacy with a multitude of environmental / human rights defenders, lawyers or activists is a direct effect of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s activities. Wiwa. an icon.”
âThis is because the injustice in the murder of Ken and his Ogoni companions made me dislike the late General Sani Abacha; even if the Bayelsans are happy, Abacha created a state for us. I still hold a grudge against General Sani Abacha for the murder of Ken and his fellow Ogoni â.
âKen, as it is popularly known, has long been preaching nonviolence and the need for the Nigerian state to address social / environmental issues before the curtain falls and warned of the coming war in the Niger Delta and a reasonable government should have looked at these issues with a sense of responsibility rather than waiting and relying on military might to destroy everything. Unfortunately, Nigeria has not known peace since the murder.
âKen was denied the right to appeal the judgment of the military tribunal and as a result many still view what happened as unfair and Ken should be exonerated and not pardoned. The federal government should right the wrong. After all, without the great work of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the level of awareness of environmental justice that prevails in Ogoni and throughout the Niger Delta could not have existed and there would not have been the Ogoni clean-up. recommended by UNEP in progress.
âAnd, many, including myself, are calling for the UNEP recommended cleanup to be extended to oil industry-induced pollution sites in Bayelsa State and beyond (the entire Niger Delta). Having observed the type of clean-up being supervised by HYPREP in Ogoni, I say with the utmost seriousness that the oil companies have not done a real clean-up and remediation of the polluted sites in Bayelsa State.