Ken Saro-Wiwa: Nigerian government should apologize to Ogoni, Ijaw Nation, Niger Delta – INC chief

Professor Benjamin Okaba, the president of INC, stated this in a statement he issued in Yenagoa while reacting to the proposed state pardon by the Federal Government for the slain Ogoni activist and writer.

The Ijaw National Congress (INC) said on Saturday that the Federal Government should apologize to the people of Ogoni Kingdom, Ijaw nation and the entire Niger Delta for the alleged wrongful killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa in November 1995.

Professor Benjamin Okaba, the president of INC, stated this in a statement he issued in Yenagoa while reacting to the proposed state pardon by the Federal Government for the slain Ogoni activist and writer.

President Muhammadu Buhari had said the Federal Government would consider granting state pardon for Saro-Wiwa to close the “Ogoni 9 saga” when leaders from Ogoniland paid him a visit in Abuja on Friday.

Saro-Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen were executed on November 10, 1995, on the orders of a special military tribunal set up by the regime of the late General Sani Abacha.

The panel sentenced them to death by hanging for allegedly masterminding the gruesome murder of some Ogoni chiefs at a pro-government rally during the height of Saro-Wiwa’s non-violent campaign against environmental and resource injustice.

The murder of Sara-Wiwa and his fellow compatriots became known as the “Ogoni 9 saga”, an incident that attracted sanctions on Nigeria by the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the international community.

Okaba in the statement titled, “The Ijaws, Ogonis And The Niger Delta Demand Apology, Not Pardon- INC President”, described the proposal as laughable and fall short of addressing the people’s right to self-determination and resource control.

He insisted that the government ought to say sorry to the people for the way and manner Saro-Wiwa and others were reportedly killed “as a result of their peaceful campaigns against economic exploration, environmental despoliation and gross abuse of the people’s fundamental human and resource rights.”

The INC chief said, “We wonder what crime Ken Saro-Wiwa and others committed that warrant state pardon. Secondly, even if he was allowed the defence, was he given the right of appeal? What are the positive aftermaths of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s agitation?

“Would there have been the UNEP Report on Ogoni clean-up if Ken Saro-Wiwa and others did not draw the attention of state and international community to various human and environmental infractions meted out to the people?

“Now that the Federal Government has suddenly realized their wrongs and equally expressed willingness to seek reconciliation and national integration, we urge them to courageously go the whole hug as follows:

“Bring to book all persons, including the presiding judge and other officers, that were, directly and indirectly, involved in the unfortunate incident (murder of the Ogoni 9).

“Justice should also be extended to the innocent Ogoni youths and other Niger Deltans who were unlawfully massacred by state operatives for merely displaying green leaves in condemnation of the ghastly act.”

According to him, the last few words of Saro-Wiwa, ‘You can kill the messenger, but not the message’, remained very apt several years after as Ogoniland, Ijaw nation and the entire Niger Delta continued to suffer injustices, inequalities and rape of their freedom and right to control their God-given resources.

He further said, “The people and the environment of the Niger Delta, in spite of the seeming interventions, have remained in a state of misery to the extent that the local economy has been disarticulated.

“In spite of our enormous contribution to the nation’s economy, the standard of living in our region is demoralizing and demeaning. State laws on Land Use, Petroleum Industry Act, Petroleum Act and other obnoxious policies have perpetually kept us as slaves and impoverished us in the midst of our God-given resources in the region.

“For us, true reconciliation should begin with the abrogation of these obnoxious laws and upward review of the principle of derivation to a minimum of 50 per cent. Thereafter, the envisaged apology and reparation will be functionally meaningful to also prevent a reoccurrence of injustices against persons who express their fundamental human rights to demand justice and equity.

“All the dramatis personae and others involved in Ken Saro-Wiwa’s case, dead and living, should be brought to book as a lesson for others.”

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