Ken Saro-Wiwa Widow Talks on Execution Memorial 20 Years On By Kayode Ogundamisi Twenty years ago I was privileged to be part of a blossoming pro-democracy movement in Nigeria that was opposing the military government. As we called for a return to democracy after years of military rule, a fragilely built man was focusing on an issue other activists were neglecting.
Every December 10, the World Community commemorates the International Human Rights Day. It is a day set aside by the International Community to reaffirm the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as a foundation of Freedom, Justice and Peace of the world. It is also the celebration of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 which provided Common Standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations to strive to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
On the 10th of November 1995, twenty years ago, Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni patriots were hanged by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha following a kangaroo trial that received world-wide condemnation. Ken Saro-Wiwa’s activities prior to his death and the execution have become pivotal points in the environmental justice movement.
The 30 days ultimatum issued to the Federal Government of Nigeria by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) over the delayed clean-up of the devastated Ogoni environment did not come as a surprise to observers.
As Ogonis and the world commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the unjust, cruel State and Corporate hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Eight others who lost their lives because they campaigned and stood up against the deliberate pollution of Ogoni and dehumanization of the people by the Federal government of Nigeria and Shell.
On 10 November, it will be 20 years since Ken Saro-Wiwa, president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and eight other Ogoni leaders were hanged by the military dictatorship in Nigeria. Known as the Ogoni Nine, their crime was demanding a share of the proceeds of oil exploitation.
The decision of the Appeal Court at The Hague on 18 December 2015 that the four farmers whose lands and creeks were damaged by Shell’s pollution can indeed sue the oil mogul in The Netherlands has come as refreshing news. While this is a sweet step towards total victory, we are saddened that while the case drags on the polluted lands are yet to be remediated and the victims are still deprived of the use of their lands and creeks.
As we mark 20 years of the hanging of Ogoni rights campaigner, Ken Saro-Wiwa tomorrow amid reports that the Nigerian Customs would not allow his memorabilia into the country, I bring to reader’s memory the cause Nigeria killed him for in his statement of defense before the tribunal that sentenced him to death.
When the apex organisation of the Ogoni people, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), described as “inaccurate and deceptive” Shell. Petroleum Development Company’s claim to have implemented in Ogoni 16 out of the 22 actions recommended by UNEP, it needed not be emphasised that it is going to be a near-impossibility for Ogoni to cooperate with the oil major except there is a mindset re-engineering particularly on the side of the Anglo-Dutch concern.