A coalition of civil societies have demanded that Shell be made to pay “the full cost” for the murder of the Ogoni playwright and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others and the pollution of Ogoniland.
At a joint press conference in Port Harcourt, Tuesday, the Social Action, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, and the Friends of the Earth International urged the Nigerian government to immediately implement the United Nations Environmental Programme report on Ogoniland.
The legacy of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni heroes is not only a Nigerian symbol of fighting to protect the environment, it’s a global symbol. We learned all that many years ago and the legend lives on,” said Jagoda Munic, President, Friends of the Earth International.
“Because you see it’s part of action by government that there is lot of pressure to erase the vision and ideas, but the problem with vision is that it is not easy to erase. That’s the real legacy, the ideas that are still living, that we are going to carry on together until they are fulfilled.”
Mr. Saro-Wiwa, alongside eight other Ogoni activists, was executed by a military tribunal set up by the Sani Abacha-led junta on November 10, 1995.
The other activists include Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine.
They were convicted on October 30th and 31st, 1995, by a three-man tribunal headed by Ibrahim Auta, the current Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; Hameed Ali, the recently appointed Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs; and Etowa Arikpo, a former Chief Judge of Cross River State (now deceased).
“The 20th anniversary commemoration of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s murder underscores again Ken Saro-Wiwa’s struggle against Shell and by extension, polluting corporate giants and dirty energy across the globe,” said Godwin Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
“As you all know, the social and environmental crisis and injustice exposed by Saro-Wiwa in the massively polluted Niger Delta and in particular, Ogoniland, are still ongoing. The people of Ogoniland are still suffering from the effects of 50 years of land, air and water pollution of which Shell is the principal culprit.”
The Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company of Shell Petroleum Development Company, has repeatedly denied complicity in the murder of Mr. Saro-Wiwa.
In 2009, the oil giant agreed to pay US$15.5 million (about N3 billion) in settlement to the families of Mr. Saro-Wiwa and the eight other following a lawsuit accusing it of having a hand in their execution.
Last September, the Nigeria Customs allegedly impounded a bus donated by The Platform, a UK group, to the Ogoni people to mark the 20th anniversary of Mr. Saro-Wiwa’s death.
Last week, the Social Action and the Ogoni Solidarity Forum threatened to shut down oil production and other economic activities around the Ogoni are if the government fails to release the bus before November 10th.
The bus, sculptured memorabilia that had written on its body a statement by Mr. Saro-Wiwa: ‘I accuse the oil companies of committing genocide against the Ogonis.’ Also written at the front of the bus is Mr. Saro-Wiwa’s name. There are eight drums at the top of the bus, with the names of each of the activists that died with Mr. Saro-Wiwa written on each of them.
“Today there was supposed to be a very big protest to cripple economic activities around the Ogoni area – the two refineries, petrochemicals, and all the activities at the seaport,” said Celestine Akpobari, National Coordinator, Ogoni Solidarity Forum.
“But we said we have quite a lot on our plate, yesterday and today. Protests of that type is not a placard-carrying protest. We used to have over 2,000 people on standby to provide security so that people are not molested by angry people.
“After this whole thing we will meet and pick a date. I can assure that until that bus is brought to us here, the federal government will smell something from us. We will not carry gun but we will the cripple the economy of this country from this end. I’m not just talking, it will happen. We have done it before, we will do it again.”