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Death Of Ogoni Heroes Won't Be In Vain – MOSOP President

As Ogonis marked Martyrs' Day at the 23rd anniversary of the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni heroes, the President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pyagbara, has said that the death of the Ogoni heroes would not be in vain.

Foremost environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni heroes were tried and executed by Nigeria's military government on November 10, 1995, in their struggle for justice in Ogoniland on environmental issues.

The MOSOP President said that the people of Ogoni would keep up the fight until they achieve result in the struggle which centres on environmental problems caused by oil pollution, injustice and abuse of rights of the people.

Pyagbara said that the Ogoni Martyrs' Day is to remember the “lives and times” of the nine Ogoni heroes, among others, who lost their lives in the course of their struggle for justice in Ogoniland.

He said: “These men and women have given us a legacy from the past on which to build the future. These heroes had given us tremendous virtue of determination, of compassion and self-confidence, but most of all, of sacrifice and service to humanity. Their spirits will continue to draw all Ogoni people together in our time of need. Their spirit will continue to lighten our paths. Their spirits certainly will draw new breath when needed, amid all our weaknesses and pains. Their deaths can never be in vain.

“Our collective undertaking from this gathering today is our unwavering commitment to rededicate ourselves to the ideals of the Ogoni struggle and to be ready to make any sacrifice necessary to actualize these lofty dreams.”

The MOSOP President used the occasion to ask the federal government to “right the wrongs” committed against the late Ogoni heroes and clear their names of any wrongdoing.

He said that the process of national healing and reconciliation would not be complete until the federal government clears the names of the late Ogoni heroes, whose execution by Nigeria's military government had drawn international criticism in 1995.

Pyagbara said: “MOSOP believes that the period of this commemoration provides the government of Nigeria with the opportunity to consummate the process of national healing and reconciliation with the Ogoni people by formally clearing the names of the Ogoni Nine of these wrongs and establish a national monument in their honour and memory”.

The MOSOP President said that the resumption of oil activities in Ogoniland would involve a “broad-based” discussion with Ogoni Communities “taking into account that the oil industry and Ogoni had been in dispute and the issues surrounding those disputes have not been settled”.  

Members of an environmental group, Friends of the Earth International, said that they were in solidarity with the people of Ogoni ethnic nationality in their demand for justice on environmental issues in Ogoniland.

Sam Cossar,  who is a representative of the group from Australia, and Sarah Shaw from the United Kingdom, who spoke on behalf of other members of the group at the occasion, said that they draw inspiration from the Ogoni struggle, saying that justice is needed everywhere around the world.

The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ben Naanen, who was represented by Hon. Precious Ngbor, commended the MOSOP for keeping alive the Ogoni struggle and fighting for the interest of the people of Ogoniland.

In his solidarity message, the Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, predicted that the Ogoni struggle would end in victory and celebration and urged the people not to give up in the struggle, even in hard times.

He said that the memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni heroes was a foundation to build on in the struggle, saying that they have not died in vain.

The President of KAGOTE, who was represented by Dr. Mike Nwilaghi, in his solidarity message, thanked the MOSOP President and the group for continuing the struggle started by the late Ogoni heroes, stressing that the struggle by the late heroes should not be in vain.

He appealed to youths in Ogoniland to avoid violence and live in peace with their neighbours.

Nigeria's Ambassador to The Netherlands, Amb. Orji Ngofa, also made a solidarity speech at the occasion and declared support for the Ogoni cause, expressing optimism that with unity of purpose, it will be actualized.

Highpoint of the event was a memorial lecture on “Environmental Injustice, the Energy Conundrum and the Struggle of the Ogoni People.: The Challenge of Sustainable Development”, delivered by Prof. Adeyemi Isumonah, Head of Department of Political Science of University of Ibadan, and another lecture on “Minorities at Crossroads: Confronting Political Inequality in Nigeria”, delivered by Barr. Mark Jacob, who was represented.

Other dignitaries at the occasion included a former Commissioner for Works in Rivers State, Hon. Victor Giadom, a former deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Leyii Kwanee, HYPREP Project Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, among others.