By Agbonkhese Oboh
Civil society organizations, community leaders from inside and outside Ogoniland, women leaders, youth groups, academia and rights groups from around the world gathered Thursday to commemorate the 25th memorial of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, with a call for an environmental audit of the Niger Delta.
Rights groups and the activist made the call in a statement issued after the 25th Commemorative Environmental Summit organized by Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA / FoEN), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) honoring the late Saro-Wiwa in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Saro-Wiwa, an environmental rights activist and writer, is among the nine Ogoni men sentenced to death and killed on November 10, 1995 by the government of Gen Sani Abacha, for their activities in pursuit of the well-being of the Ogoni population. following the effect of oil. gas exploration and burning.
On Thursday at the summit, which had “25 Years After Ken Saro-Wiwa: The Nigerian Environment and Lessons Not Learned! ” as theme, HOMEF Director Dr. Nnimmo Bassey pointed out that 25 years after the tragic activities that culminated in the assassination of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight Ogoni relatives, fossil fuel industry players are still in the business of denial and mindless destruction continue. of the Niger Delta and the Nigerian environment.
Bassey, who spoke at The Ogoni struggle and Nigeria’s never-ending quest for environmental justice, noted that it continued to function as usual in the region.
The summit held that despite overwhelming evidence that acquitted the late Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni leaders of the allegations that Judge Ibrahim Auta relied on to send them to the gallows, the Nigerian government had not exonerated the men .
Participants also agreed that 25 years after the Ogoni 9 tragedy, the Federal Government has yet to address the degraded environment of Ogoni, while the cleanup of Ogoniland recommended by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) it is riddled with deliberate obstacles.
Furthermore, those guilty of the arrest, detention and extrajudicial killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders have yet to be “held accountable for environmental racism.”
By way of solutions, the summit demanded “A comprehensive environmental audit of the Niger Delta and an immediate exoneration of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow Ogoni from the false accusations for which they were killed.”
Other suggestions are that “the Federal Government pay the Ogoni nation an ecological debt for decades of pollution, neglect of its polluted environment, displacement of its people and denying it justice;
“Need for a judicial inquiry panel to review the killings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the arbitrary arrests, mutilations and murders that forced many indigenous Ogoni to flee and into exile;
“The Nigerian Government removes existing obstacles and accelerates the clean-up of the devastated environment of Ogoni and, indeed, of the entire Niger Delta;
“Stop the construction of a prison yard in Ogoniland and instead support the Ogoni people’s plans for a Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Park and the construction of a Research Center of Excellence and other emergency measures recommended by UNEP in your evaluation report;
“Immediate release of the Ken Saro-Wiwa memorial bus seized for no reason by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in 2015;
“The Rivers State government removes the names of the late General Sani Abacha and other actors responsible for the 1995 Ogoni murders from all buildings in the state, and that
“The federal government immediately stopped the drift towards total tyranny caused by the increasing cases of suppression of the rights of the people of the Niger Delta, activists and peaceful protesters such as the promoters of #ENDSARS.”
Other groups that were at the summit and / or signed the statement are Green Alliance Nigeria, Host Communities Network, Ogoni Solidarity Forum and Social Action.
Others are the Center for the Environment, Human Rights and Development; Nigeria Student Environment Assembly, Young Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Democracy Stakeholders Network and Civil Liberties Organization.
KwamiKpondzo, Oilwatch Togo coordinator; Patrick Bond from South Africa; Steve Kriezmann from the United States and Bobby Peek from GroundWork South Africa spoke words of solidarity via zoom.