IN an attempt to appease the Ogoni people of Rivers State for long years of deprivation, injustice and neglect, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration is prepared to give a posthumous pardon to late activist and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others hanged by late dictator, Sani Abacha.
The president said this at a meeting with a select group of Ogoni leaders on Friday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Buhari said he was interested in finally resting the Ogoni issue, noting that his administration was committed to building true reconciliation and genuine national integration.
“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,’’
In 1995, under the regime of Sani Abacha, a group of Ogoni activists, including Saro-Wiwa, were at loggerheads with oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), for polluting the environment. They wanted the company to stop oil exploitation.
Apart from Saro-Wiwa, other members of the group were: Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, , Daniel Gbooko, John Kpuine and Barinem Kiobel.
They were arrested and tried by a special tribunal on murder charges and executed by hanging on November 10, 1995, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Abacha regime had accused them of killing pro-Ogoni traditional rulers and halting oil production in the area.