Indications have emerged that the Nigerian Government may soon grant a posthumous pardon to Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists after brutal execution by a former military regime 26 years ago for fighting for the rights of their people.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the indication, Friday, when he received some of the leaders of land led by the President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Majesty King Godwin N.K. Giniwa, at the State House, Abuja.
Mr Saro-Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen, who became popularly known as the Ogoni Nine, were sentenced to death on November 10, 1995 by a special military tribunal set up by the Nigerian Government under Gen Sani Abacha who later died in June 1998 inside the presidential villa under mysterious circumstances.
“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,” Buhari told the Ogoni leaders.
“Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this Administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.”
“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni Land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories,” President Buhari noted.
The President urged Ogoni leaders to works towards protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying wilful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.
He noted that the Federal Government was committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni Land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni Land and the region more that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,” he said.
The President said bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.
He said the government would bring to a close all pending issues on sons of Ogoni Land.
“Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished representatives of the people of Ogoni Land, I note the need to ensure completion of segment of the East-West road traversing Ogoni Land, and steps will be taken to ensure delivery under the Infrastructure Development Fund as earlier conceived. We intend to complete this vital artery of Nigeria.
According to the President, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had been granted license to operate OML11, which will stimulate economic activities and integration in the area.