September 21, 2012

Ogoni: A Call To Re-Write History

17 years after Ken Sarowiwa and his fellow activists were outlawed and killed for claiming justice in the Niger Delta, the Ogoni are calling for the Nigerian government to declare their innocence and clear the criminal record associated with them.

Below is an article published by Ogoni News:

On November 10, 1995, the Nigerian government unfairly killed 'nine' innocent Ogoni people after a military trial which denied them a right to appeal. The circumstances of their death are well known - that they were killed by their own government in an attempt to silence their agitation for justice for the Ogoni people.

Seventeen years later, government actions support the claims of the Ogoni people and particular, the statement of Ken Saro-Wiwa before the "Ogoni Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal" in 1995 that the trial was orchestrated by government to silence the voice of minority Ogoni people who strongly agitated for a fair treatment in Nigeria.

In recognition of Saro-Wiwa's heroism and innocence, the Rivers State government had only recently renamed the popular stadium road in Port Harcourt, the state capital after Saro-Wiwa. In 2010, the government in its official calendar celebrated the Heroes of Rivers State of which Saro-Wiwa was one. Government acknowledged that Saro-Wiwa's death was as a result of his fight for the rights of his minority Ogoni people.

Most recently, the Bayelsa State Director of the State Security Services, SSS, Andrew Ayaji had thrown more light into the actual reasons Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni people were hanged in 1995. The security chief's comment supports widely held position that Saro-Wiwa's crime was killed because of his protest against injustice meted on the Ogoni people by Shell and the Nigerian government.

The security chief was speaking while delivering a lecture at this year’s  Bayelsa State Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)’s press week held at the council hall in Yenagoa.

Andrew Ajaji said Saro-Wiwa's non-violent campaign threatened the Nigerian state. He claimed that Saro-Wiwa was hanged because the Nigerian government feared his campaign could break up the country.

Now that the facts of the innocence of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis hanged by the Nigerian government on November 10, 1995 has become clearer than ever before, it is only just for these 'nine Ogonis' including Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuinen to be formally and officially declared innocent by the Nigerian state and for the government to tender their apologies, work towards a just syetem that guarantees justice for all and honor these nine Ogonis whose innocent blood facilitated Nigeria's process towards democratization - recall that outraged by the executions, the Commonwealth had suspended Nigeria and given her 2 years to democratize. Former British Prime Minister, John Major described the executions as "judicial murder".

We believe, decriminalizing the "Ogoni 9" is a fair and just thing to do. We also believe such action will usher in an era of forgiveness, reconciliation and begin to build real confidence in the Ogoni people that government is not really out to exterminate the Ogoni people for championing the minority struggle for justice in the Niger Delta.

A most appropriate day for the government to take this action is November 10, 2012.

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