The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has condemned Nigeria’s House of Reps for turning down a motion to honour Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others.
Saro-Wiwa was executed alongside eight others on November 10, 1995 after being found guilty of murder.
The lawmakers said it would be inappropriate to grant Saro-Wiwa the honour, arguing that his execution was “duly considered and endorsed by government.”
Rep. Benjamin Wayo (Benue-APC) said, “While I agree that the environmental situation in Niger Delta is pitiable, we have to be careful in adopting the prayer in the motion calling for one-minute silence for the late environmentalist.
“Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution says every person has right to life. It is only permissible to be taken through constitutional means, just as it was done in this case.
“Therefore, it will be out of order to observe a minute’s silence for Saro-Wiwa under this circumstance.”
Similarly, Rep. Ali Madaki (Kano-APC) appealed to members to be cautious not to breach procedures regarding government’s pronouncements.
Rep. Onyemaechi Mrakpor (Delta-PDP) said that observing one-minute silence for the late environmentalist or not doing so would not change the narrative that the pollution and infrastructure decay in the Niger Delta region have not abated.
He said, “The things Ken Saro-Wiwa stood for are still there, as they have not been addressed. There is no clean water to drink in the Niger Delta and environmental pollution is still there.
“It is not all about one-minute silence. We should be concerned about enhancing the environment in the Niger Delta region,” Mrakpor said.
Reacting, Fegalo Nsuke, MOSOP Publicity Secretary, in a statement on Thursday said the people were shocked at the position taken by the Nigerian lawmakers as it not only misled the public but also placed a big question on members’ perception of law and justice.
It read, ”It is indeed pitiable that today’s parliamentarians do not remember that Saro–Wiwa was not only executed, his body was also burnt with acid. To these parliamentarians, could this shame be part of their understanding of “duly considered and endorsed”?
”It is quite contemptuous that these comments are coming from direct beneficiaries of Saro-Wiwa’s execution. We recall that the “Ogoni 9″ executions led to Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth and triggered international pressure forcing Nigeria to return to democratic rule in 1999.
”For the avoidance of any ambiguity, MOSOP is less concerned about ‘a minute silence” in honor of Saro-Wiwa” and the other 8 victims. MOSOP is however concerned about the seeming endorsement of injustice by the Nigerian house of representatives when it noted that the executions were “duly considered and endorsed”.
”It is regrettable that a sham is been considered to have passed due process. A trial in which the conclusion was decided before the trial commenced, a trial in which the victims were denied every right to fair hearing including the right to appeal.
”We consider these comments a national embarrassment and on behalf of the Ogoni ethnic nationality profoundly express our indignation of this discrimination and injustice which is been prosecuted against our people.
”However, we commend Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP – Rivers) and all other legislators who supported this motion for their good intentions in recognizing the sacrifices and contributions of Ken Saro-Wiwa to the enthronement of democracy and for a free and just Nigerian society.
”We want to state unequivocally that the 1995 hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others is not only a permanent stain on the conscience of our nation and our claims to being a free society, it is a national shame that the Nigerian government would have been curious to erase by addressing the issues that led to its occurrence viz-a–viz the complaints of the Ogoni people as contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights.
”The 1995 hangings is one of the darkest and most painful history of the Ogoni people. But even in death, we still hold Ken Saro-Wiwa in very high esteem and as a people with very long memory, we cannot so easily forget the circumstances in which the Nigerian authorities killed these innocent 9 on November 10, 1995. The Ogoni people reject every mockery of their sacrifices for the people.
”Indeed, we have been severely battered, not only by the 1995 hangings, the scars of a series of state sponsored repression which came with it remain with us till date. We however do not want to be convinced that a civilian parliament that should stand for the people will make us feel,, while we still nurse our injuries, that we are hated, rejected and condemned in our own country.
”The House’ position on the execution of our leaders in 1995 indeed frightens us and re-enforces our fears that Nigeria is not seriously committed to social justice and human rights.”