TWENTY six years after he was executed by the Gen Sani Abacha regime, there are indications that environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and 26 others may soon be granted a presidential pardon.
The indications were given on Friday when President Muhammadu Buhari played host to prominent Ogoni leaders, led by the President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Majesty King Godwin N.K. Giniwa, at the State House, Abuja on Friday.
Mr Saro-Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen, better known as the Ogoni Nine, were sentenced to death on November 10, 1995 by a special military tribunal set up by the Nigerian Government under Gen Sani Abacha.
“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,” Buhari told the Ogoni leaders.
The president added that his administration is committed to laying the foundation for genuine national reconciliation hence the need to finally put rest the Ogoni land issue.
“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,” he added.
According to President Buhari, events leading up to the ugly incidents of the early 1990s still remain fresh.
“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.”
The President pointed out that given the need for reconciliation, there is the need for all stakeholders alled to works towards protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying wilful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.
He added that the Federal Government was committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni Land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni Land and the region more that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,” he said.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to closing all pending issues on sons of Ogoni Land and the East-West road.
“Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished representatives of the people of Ogoni Land, I note the need to ensure completion of segment of the East-West road traversing Ogoni Land, and steps will be taken to ensure delivery under the Infrastructure Development Fund as earlier conceived. We intend to complete this vital artery of Nigeria.”
According to the President, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd, NPDC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, had been granted license to operate OML11, a move meant to stimulate economic activities and integration in the area