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After 25 years, HOMEF demands exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ogoni leaders

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has called for the exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight Ogoni leaders (Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel and John Kpuine), who were killed in 1995 by the Nigerian State on murder charges tried by a military tribunal.

Ken Saro-Wiwa
People protest against the hanging of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight colleagues in London, UK, November 17, 1995. Photo credit: PA Archive/PA

The Ogoni activists, who were members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), were accused and executed under the administration of Gen. Sani Abacha. The accusation of complicity in the murder of four Ogoni chiefs was directly tied to the activists’ unflinching stand against the polluting activities of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company known for its controversial operation in the Niger Delta.

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“Years later, even after the witnesses recounted their statements, admitting that they were bribed to bear false witnesses against Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others, there still has not been justice for the masterminded killing of these men,” HOMEF said in a statement made available to EnviroNews on Monday, November 9, 2020.

The execution of these men brought sanctions on Nigeria from the international community and led to Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations. The cause for which these men fought and were killed was validated by the August 2011 report of the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland by UNEP which revealed the depth of destruction of the soil, waters and air in Ogoniland.

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It has been 25 years since the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight Ogoni leaders. HOMEF, in a statement, called on the Nigerian government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others as a step towards bringing the somewhat gruesome history to a closure.

Nnimmo Bassey, the director of HOMEF, stated that “exonerating Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni leaders is the least the government can do to acknowledge the travesty of justice against the victims, the Ogoni people and humanity.”

He also called for the recognition of these men by the Nigerian government as heroes of environmental justice.

Bassey added that “exonerating these men will bring a sense of recognition to the environmental struggles of the Niger Delta people and highlight the needed accountability on the part of the government and companies operating in the region while also showing the world that Nigeria is no longer a state that criminalises dissent.”

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HOMEF says it believes that if Ken Saro-Wiwa were to be alive today, the demands captured in the Ogoni Bill of Rights of 1990 would still form the bedrock of demands for the respect of environmental rights, cultural dignity and re-source democracy.

“He would not be silent in the face of continued ecological degradation. And we must not be silent, because as Saro-wiwa wrote, ‘Silence Would be Treason’,” HOMEF submitted.

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