As Ogonis warm up to commemorate this year’s Ogoni Martyrs Day, Friday, November 10, 2023, in remembrance of the killing of renowned environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders by the military administration of late General Sani Abacha in 1995, renewed calls for justice have resonated in the oil rich area.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, Ogonis lamented that the people have continued to suffer environmental degradation, political marginalization, and economic hardship occasioned by the reckless, oil exploration activities of the multinational Oil company, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
In the conference which was delivered by Comrade Akpobari Celestine, Team Leader of Peoples Advancement Centre (PAC), and Rev Probel Williams, Leader of Ogoni Peoples’ Assembly (OPA), Ogonis said their demands as outlined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights, seeking political autonomy, control of their economic resources, representation in national institutions, protection of the environment, and more are still in memory.
They recalled sadly that the Nigerian government responded to their nonviolent agitation with violence, leading to atrocities such as mass arrests, unjust detention and other atrocious activities that climaxed with the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others.
Consequently, they resoundingly voiced their demands, seeking justice and environmental redemption for the Ogoni, which has long suffered from decades of neglect and environmental degradation.
Key, in their demands from the Bola Ahmed Tinubu led-federal government is the exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight other Ogoni leaders who were brutally executed by the military junta under the command of late General Sani Abacha in 1995. The Ogoni people demand and insist on justice not only be given but also seen to have been given, and these wrongful convictions overturned.
In addition to the exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his kith and kin, the Ogoni leaders called for the arrest and prosecution of the military officers responsible for the genocide in Ogoni during the late Abacha regime. They argue that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be held accountable.
Furthermore, the Ogoni people demanded that the families of the victims receive fair and just compensation for their pains and losses suffered throughout the years.
The Ogonis also emphasized the importance of equal political representation and participation in governance as other ethnic groups in the country.
They urged the government to address their legitimate concerns regarding their role in political decision-making processes.
Another pressing issue raised in the briefing was the full implementation of the UNEP Report on Ogoni, which calls for the decommissioning of Shell’s operations in Ogoniland, and compensation for affected farmers and fishermen.
The Ogoni leaders also urged the government to take swift action in implementing these critical environmental measures.
“We also demand the immediate release of the confiscated Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Bus, which symbolizes our struggle and commitment to justice and environmental preservation”, they submitted.
With environmental cleanup, a central focus of the Ogoni people’s demands, the leaders called for a halt to new oil explorations and for the release of funds earmarked for the Ogoni cleanup project.
Additionally, the Ogonis urged the federal government to conduct environmental audits in other polluted sites across the Niger Delta, and ensure that these areas receive the attention they so desperately need.