Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has reiterated calls for the exoneration of late renowned Playwright and Environmental Activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight other Ogoni Leaders, who were killed by the Abacha Regime, twenty-six years ago.
PANDEF strongly supports the calls for their exoneration, not pardon, and therefore, urges President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison his consideration of granting pardon to the Ogoni Icons. There is no better time for the President to make that pronouncement, than now, on the 26th Memorial of the sadistic killing of the innocent men.
It must be accentuated that Ken Saro-Wiwa, and the eight others did not commit any crime against the Nigerian State. They were patriots; heroes, who, through peaceful and non-violent processes, highlighted the injustices and wrongs perpetrated against the region, in tandem with the demands of the Ogoni People. Like several other innocent Niger Deltans, who have been killed by state actors, all they wanted was improved, and better, living conditions for their people – a safe, peaceful, and developed Niger Delta Region.
Exonerating Ken Saro-Wiwa, and the eight others, at this time, would help lessen the agonizing memories of the sad events in the hearts of their families, the Ogoni people, and the entire Niger Delta people, as well as lovers of truth, justice and peace across the world.
It would also soothe emanating concerns of citizens, given the current disturbing mood of the Country, and elicit international empathy and goodwill.
PANDEF recalls, sadly, that Ken Saro-Wiwa, and the eight others, were executed on 10th November 1995 by the Abacha Regime, in defiance of international appeals, following a fraudulent trial. Which was a continuation of the orchestrated suppression and subjugation of the Niger Delta people, and their just campaigns against the neglect and negligence, by the Nigerian Government, and the International Oil Companies.
Surely, Mr President is fully apprised of the worldwide condemnation, and outrage, against the Nigerian government, over the brutish killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa, and the Eight others; leading to the international isolation of Nigeria, for some years.
Regrettably, 26 years after that dastardly event, and after over 60 years of the Expropriation and Sequestration of the Oil Resources of the Region by the Nigerian State, there are still no reckonable changes anywhere in the Niger Delta Region, which remains among the least developed, and most deprived in the Country.
We continue to witness the wreckage of the abundant flora and fauna of our, hitherto, luxuriant ecosystem, with attendant devastation of livelihoods of the people, due to the unconscionable, reckless activities of the Oil and Gas Industry Operators, with little or nothing done to improve the resultant dire living conditions of the people.
While the Nigerian State, and some individuals, non-indigenous to the region, enrich themselves with benefits from the Niger Delta-based Oil and Gas industry, paradoxically, the people of the Host Communities, from whose backyards billionaires are being spawned, receive mere soupçons and are rendered spectators of the Oil and Gas business.
Ken Saro Wiwa, and the others, those before him and those after him, will live infinitely in the hearts and minds of the people. Their exemplary and selfless courage, gallant services, and supreme sacrifices in pursuance of the civil, economic and environmental Rights of our people, would never be forgotten.
Necessary to note that the struggles of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other patriots culminated in the all-important Ogoni Clean up, presumed precursor to the total remediation of all impacted areas of the Niger Delta but its status is unclear.
The exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa, and the eight other Ogoni leaders, cannot be over-stressed; it is exigent and imperative. Mr. President has to do the needful, and do it, RIGHT NOW!
Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, FNSE
Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF