25 years after their gruesome execution, a group, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight Ogoni activists killed in 1995 by the Nigerian state of all the murder charges brought against them.
The group who noted that the nine Ogoni environmental activists were victims of false murder charges by a kangaroo military tribunal, said it was important for the Nigerian government to revisit the sordid history so as to build monument of justice in the country.
Saro-wiwa was sent to the gallows alongside Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel and John Kpuine
The Ogoni activists who were members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) were accused of murder and were brutally executed under the military dictatorship of the then maximum ruler Gen. Sani Abacha.
The accusation of complicity in the murder of four Ogoni chiefs was directly tied to the strong and unflinching stand of the nine activists against the polluting activities of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company known for its decades-old atrocious ruination of the Niger Delta since black gold was discovered in the oil-rich region.
According to a statement made available to The New Diplomat by HOMEF Communications Lead, Ms. Ogechi Okanya Cookey “Years later, even after the witnesses recounted their statements, admitting that they were bribed to bear false witnesses against Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others, there still has not been justice for the masterminded killing of the activists.”
The execution of the Ogoni nine brought sanctions on Nigeria from the international community and led to Nigeria’s suspension from the Common Wealth of nations.
The group added that the cause for which the activists fought and died for was validated by the August 2011 report of the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland by UNEP which revealed the depth of destruction of the soil, waters and air in Ogoniland.
The group called on the Nigerian government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others as a step towards bringing the gruesome history to a closure.
Nnimmo Bassey, the director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, stated that “exonerating Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni leaders is the least the government can do to acknowledge the travesty of justice against the victims, the Ogoni people and humanity.”
He also called for the recognition of these men by the Nigerian government, as heroes of environmental justice.
Bassey added that “exonerating these men will bring a sense of recognition to the environmental struggles of the Niger Delta people and highlight the needed accountability on the part of the government and companies operating in the region while also showing the world that Nigeria is no longer a state that criminalizes dissent.”
According to the group, “if Ken Saro-Wiwa were to be alive today, the demands captured in the Ogoni Bill of Rights of 1990 would still form the bedrock of demands for the respect of environmental rights, cultural dignity and re-source democracy. He would not be silent in the face of continued ecological degradation. And we must not be silent, because as Saro-wiwa wrote, Silence would be treason.”