Twenty-six years after the Ogoni Nine, activists who opposed the operating practices of the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corporation, were executed by hanging by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha, President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday gave a hint of a possible state pardon.
The Ogoni Nine which included author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine, were executed on November 10 1995.
Buhari gave the hint when he had an audience with some leaders and people of Ogoni land at the State House, according to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
According to the President Buhari, despite the gravity of the circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request to grant them pardon and bring closure to the case.
He said: “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.
“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,’’
President Buhari urged the Ogoni leaders to sensitize indigenes on value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying willful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.
He also noted that the Federal Government is 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 observed that 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.