By George Onah
Port Harcourt – Twenty Ogoni environmental activists arrested by the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha and detained without trial between 1994 and 1998 have demanded N10 billion compensation as general damages from the Federal Government.
Out of the 20 men, who were all members of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, five of them have died, both in prison, through torture, while awaiting trial as well as after their release as a result of trauma and loss of means of livelihood.
Addressing the press in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Thursday, spokesman of the group Mr. Nyieda Nasikpo said they were all arrested with executed environmentalist Mr. Ken Saro Wiwa over “spurious allegation of taking part in the killing of four Ogoni leaders at Giakoo community, Gokhana Council”.
Nasikpo who said many of them were civil servants, teachers and businessmen, explained that they were picked up that year by security me in different parts of the sate, including classrooms, market place, offices, our homes and on the road.
“We were first taken to army barracks Bori Camp, then to the SSS office and finally dumped at the Port Harcourt Prison for four years without trial. We were in prison when nine of our leaders, including Ken Saro Wiwa were convicted and executed.
We heard the screams and cries of the Ogoni 9 while they were being killed at the Port Harcourt Prison. Ken was the last person to die after calling on his ancestors to let him die, following the prolonged torture during the hanging.
We were thoroughly tortured at the various detention camps, leading to the death of one of us Mr. Tusima Clement in 1995. All manner of devices were employed by the security men to extract information from us.
Our case was presented at the Oputa Panel (Truth and Reconciliation Commission), but nothing has been done since then. We have been neglected and rejected by the government. Some of us lost our wives and children to death during our period of incarceration. Those reinstated to work were not paid backlog of salaries for four years.
All we were demanding for before the arrest was environmental justice and the appeal for compensation, which we are asking now, is in the collective interest of peace. If our demand is not met we shall call on the international community to intervene.