Oct 26, 2021

Ogoni : UNPO Supports Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation's Efforts to Obtain Full Apology for Saro-Wiwa, Not Pardon, from Nigerian Government

UNPO expresses its full support to the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation in its stance demanding an exoneration from the Nigerian government instead of a pardon for the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, the ex-leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Saro-Wiwa, an early active member of UNPO and world renowned activist in his time, was unlawfully tried by a military tribunal and hanged alongside 8 other Ogoni (the "Ogoni 9") in 1995 during the military dictatorship of General Abacha. He and the rest of the Ogoni 9 were not criminals and do not need to be pardoned. Rather, an official apology from the government and a commitment to providing redress for family members of the victims, and the Ogoni is warranted.

The nature of the trial and execution provoked international condemnation, as it was evident that the charges were fabricated and that the Nigerian government was complicit in conducting a show trial to intimidate Ogoni activists. Since Saro-Wiwa’s death the Foundation in his name has sought to uncover the full truth behind his execution, including the role of Royal Dutch Shell, which they brought a civil lawsuit against. Saro-Wiwa’s organisation, the MOSOP, also continues to advocate for the clean up of their homeland after oil spills and retribution for past rights abuses.

Recently, the President of Nigeria Mohamed Buhari answered requests by unnamed Ogoni sources for the exoneration of Saro-Wiwa by offering a pardon – implying Saro-Wiwa had actually committed a crime, when human rights observers are unanimous in believing it was a sham trial. Dr Owen Wiwa, Saro-Wiwa’s brother and head of the foundation, rejected the idea of a pardon, saying ““Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Eight Ogonis were not criminals. They were innocent activists unjustly murdered for fighting for a just cause on behalf of their oppressed community.

“The family of Ken Saro-Wiwa have made a request for the exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa to the President in the past and are still waiting for a response. We urge the President to again consider this request as a path to justice and peace.

“The family and the Foundation have not asked any individual to ask for pardon or clemency for Ken Saro-Wiwa on our behalf, nor are we aware of any group of Ogonis making such a request”.

UNPO supports the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation’s efforts to obtain a state apology and total exoneration of the Ogoni 9 instead of a pardon. The case of the Ogoni 9 is still a massive stain on the Nigerian government’s treatment of the Ogoni and recognizing Saro-Wiwa’s full innocence would be the latest positive step to reconciliation and respect towards the Ogoni people. UNPO continues to advocate for Ogoni rights alongside the MOSOP.