November 10 And Its Attendant Agony: There was never an Ogoni 4 – by Ben Pemii

Pain, in a layman’s language, is an indescribable laceration on the psyche of a human entity. It retires the victim to complete disorganisation and endless writhing with far reaching mental disruption. Though animal brutality inflicts pains on the lower breeds of creation, the pain occasioned by an undeserving loss of a loved one causes psycho-extremities heartbreak in humans which often lead to instant death.

The psychological realm, however, attests that excruciating pain can lead to depression, anxiety, and extreme stress, to say the least. At the Nigerian front, family headship and provision of the proverbial daily bread, is primarily assigned to the man described as the head of the family, that is, the husband.

The massive improvement on the part of women shouldering key family responsibilities hasn’t attenuated that age-old mentality. This goes to explain the complex inhumanity the widows of Ogoni Nine have faced in the past twenty-seven years after the brutal execution of their husbands. For the purposes of historical recall, it would be pertinent to do a roll call of the Ogoni Nine: Kenule Beson Tua-Saro-Wiwa, popularly known as Ken Saro-Wiwa, Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, and John Kpuinen.

These were men who were gruesomely executed by the late Gen. Sani Abacha-led junta, for doing no wrong. Ironic as the assentation is the undeniable truth about this heinous crime committed by that junta, and which subsequent Nigerian authorities have maintained the momentum of denial is the OGONI NINE committed no crime.

It is preposterous therefore, for any group of Ogonis or Nigerians to plead with the Federal Government to grant a pardon to Ken Saro-Wiwa, Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel and their compatriots. I am aware of a certain reconciliation that “united” the Ogoni Four and the Ogoni Nine into Ogoni 13. Great as reconciliation is, in itself, this step was borne out of ignorance or outright denial of the obvious. I standby this assertion because THERE HAS NEVER BEEN AN OGONI FOUR. The terminology came as a coinage to nail Ken Saro-Wiwa and Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel, in particular.

Their seven compatriots were only added to them as a strategy to conceal the actual intention of the government against the duo. Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel, as at the time of his execution was one of Nigeria’s most learned people. He was also a serving commissioner who, at least, should have been accorded some respite or some sort of immunity. These considerations were jettisoned.

Worse still, he flagged down every overture of bribe offered him to betray his people in the interest of the crude oil merchants. Being a decent and learned gentleman, nothing was going to make Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel sell his and his people’s rights over a plate of badly cooked porridge. He maintained the nobility of his humanity and the rights that accrue thereunto and those of his people. He, like his brother Ken Saro-Wiwa, was a knight whose blazing sword was truth completely devoid of the odorous stench of prevarication. The popular story told over the years was that Ken Saro-Wiwa instigated the murder of the Ogoni Four.

For the purposes of memory recall, those wrongly classified as the Ogoni Four were: Chief Edward Kobani, Chief Albert Tombari Baddey, Chief Samuel Ntete Orage, (Ken Saro- Wiwa’s brother-in-law) and Chief Theophilus Bariziga Orage, (Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel’s brother-in-law). It has been propagated in local and international media that these four men were murdered same day at Gio Koo, in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, South-South Nigeria.

This is not just fallacious, but a product of conspiracy constructed by devious minds and sold to ignorant people who were neither at the crime scene nor do they have an inkling of the realities surrounding the ignominy of the barbaric act perpetrated by the Nigerian military that was headed by a man rightly described as the real “Jezebel in masculine clothing.” For the umpteenth time, I will like to repeat that there has never been an OGONI FOUR anywhere in the history of the Ogoni struggle. Four Ogoni chiefs were not murdered at Gio Koo on the 21st of May, 1994. The book housing the details will be out soon.

So, if Ogoni Nine were executed based on the murder of the Ogoni Four, then the Nigerian Government executed innocent souls and should make reparation. It is true that THREE OGONI CHIEFS lost their lives at Gio Koo on the 21st of May, 1994, namely: Chief Edward Kobani, Chief Albert Tombari Baddey, and Chief Samuel Ntete Orage. Their death was skilfully prearranged by the crude oil lords and their beneficiaries as a strategy to dislodge the mounting pressure already presented by a united Ogoni population against several years of deprivation. Ken Saro-Wiwa was only a harbinger of that tiding which was long due.

I am aware how much those simple demands enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights unsettled the greedy sectors that have consistently plundered the people’s resources and gathered a handful of the people to “settle” them as a means of holding the vast majority in perpetual bondage. Proponents of villainy have vehemently stated that Ken Saro-Wiwa and Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel instigated their kinsmen to carry out the killings. However, as time went on, they gradually lowered the volume on Dr. Barinem Nubari Kiobel’s direct involvement when people testified to his impeccable conduct. But the paymasters knew exactly what they wanted and so they refused to expunge his name from the dictionary of blames.

The traumatizing agony, the endless web of lies, the consistent and conscientious funded efforts aimed at the miscegenation of the Ogonis, the bribes exchanging hands with the aim of sweeping a noble course under the rug, among other tactical vileness of the authorities and their loyalists remain a testament of the crudity with which justice matters are tackled in Nigeria. Totally impenitent, Nigerian authorities have deliberately been fanning the Ogoni people with what they have recently described as “clean up.”

Twenty-seven years after the Nigerian government murdered a generation of Ogoni elders, what we have heard often is the news of a clueless bandwagon of self-styled chiefs parading the corridors of power in search of “presidential pardon” for the Ogoni Nine. One wonders where the so-called chiefs left their garments of integrity and valour. Intimidation, as a tool of impunity, works but a while. The time to let the actual truth out of the bag has come. No ONE can stop it!


Pemii Ben writes from the polluted land of Ogoni, Rivers State, South-South Nigeria

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