The hanging and subsequent execution of the Ogoni nine, now popularly known as the Ogoni Martyrs re-echoed last week November 10 during the 27th anniversary commemoration of their death.
Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, Executive Director of Ogoni Democracy Forum in a press statement he distributed through his office to mark the Ogoni Martyrs Day urged the Federal Government to exonerate the Ogoni 9 from the alleged crime they committed and honour them.
The former MOSOP president averred that the process of national healing and reconciliation would not be complete until the Nigerian government clears the name of the Ogoni nine.
According to him, the execution of the Ogoni nine triggered a firestorm of condemnations across the globe, pointing out that the Common Wealth of Nations suspended Nigeria from its membership in the wake of the killings.
He further stressed that the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on Nigeria on December 22, 1995 in which it condemned the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other members of the Ogoni nine and called on the Secretary-General to send a fact-finding team to Nigeria.
“On this Ogoni Martyrs Day, we still reiterate our appeal that in the spirit of promoting national healing and reconciliation, the government of Nigeria should exonerate the martyrs and honour them,” the former MOSOP president said.
Pyagbara recalled that those heroes died fighting against extractivism, particularly exploitation arising from oil production, warning that the intense pressure of late to enter Ogoni for resumption of oil production should be thoroughly evaluated, as according to him, Ogoni Oil assets could not be partitioned and allocated like the partitioning of Africa to investor without the free, prior and informed consent of the Ogoni people as guaranteed under International Human Rights Law particularly the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The Executive Director of Ogoni Democracy Forum would prefer that the oil remained in the soil until an engagement process which respected the free, prior and informed consent of Ogoni people was sought and received. According to him: “There must be a broad-based discussion with the Ogoni community taking into account that the oil industry and Ogoni had been in dispute and the issues surrounding those disputes have not been settled. The very conflict of Extractivism which consumed the heroes for which we are gathered here today to remember.”
Pyagbara disclosed that the fires that lit the Ogoni sky line for over four decades was responsible for the global crisis of climate change that had forced the world to be meeting yearly to find solutions to the simmering climate crisis, stressing that several communities were flooded of late due to sea level rise and heavy rainfall. “It is time we re-examine extractivism and its impact on our community”, he said.
The former MOSOP president called for political justice, self determination and restructuring, stressing that the notion of self determination could not be swept under the carpet, as according to him, Nigeria had come to a point in which it must have to be restructured. He reminded the world that the Ogoni Nine died for a restructured Nigeria which will guarantee equity, justice and fairness by creating political space for the sub-national entities to develop at their own pace, while ensuring protection for national minorities and indigenous communities.
He said the Ogoni Bill of Rights emphasized local autonomy and self determination for the Ogoni people and other Nigerian communities that were threatened by internal colonialism.