Special Report

June 14, 2009

Ogoni 9, Ogoni 4 and June 12: Prologue


OGONI 9 and June 12.  Yes, the two episodes have remained stuck with us since they hit us like a thunderbolt 16 years ago. If you call them Siamese twins, you may not be far off the mark.

When the Humphrey Nwosu-led National Electoral Commission, NEC, fixed June 12, 1993,f or the presidential election that pitched the late Bashorun MKO Abiola of the defunct SDP against Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the NRC, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) saw in it an opportunity to draw national and international attention to the environmental degradation of Ogoniland by years of oil exploration by Shell.

MOSOP leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa and his executives called for the boycott of the election in Ogoniland, a move opposed by some other Ogoni people.

MOSOP was determined to enforce the boycott and was not prepared to brook any dissension on the matter. That was where and when things began to go out of hand. Violence broke out intermittently across Ogoni land culminating in the rampage at Gokoo in Gokana Local Government Area on May 21, 1993. Killed were Albert Badey, Edwin Kobani, Samuel Orase and Theophilus Orase.

The security agencies swung into action arresting Ken Saro-Wiwa and many others.  In all, 15 of them were arraigned for murder with nine, including Ken getting the death sentence.

Many Nigerians, especially human rights associations believe Ken and co were not given a fair hearing.

However, a week to the 16th year remembrance of the June 12 presidential election that was eventually cancelled by the military government, oil giant, Shell decided to pay $15.5 million to the families of the executed people in an out-of-court settlement.

Today, in this edition, we serve you all there is to know about the Ogoni 7 and the Ogoni 4.