By Samuel Oyadongha, YENAGOA

Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has reiterated calls for the exoneration of late renowned playwright and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight other Ogoni leaders, killed by the Abacha regime, 26 years ago.

National Chairman of the apex pan Niger Delta group, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, in a statement yesterday, said: “PANDEF strongly supports the calls for their exoneration and not pardon.”

They urged President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison his consideration of granting pardon to the Ogoni icons.

His words: “There is no better time for the president to make that pronouncement than now, on the 26th memorial of the sadistic killing of the innocent men.

“It must be accentuated that Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others did not commit any crime against the Nigerian state.

“They were patriots; heroes, who, through peaceful and non-violent processes, highlighted the injustices and wrongs perpetrated against the region in tandem with the demands of the Ogoni people.

“Like several other innocent Niger Deltans, who have been killed by state actors, all they wanted was improved and better living conditions for their people — a safe, peaceful, and developed  Niger Delta.

“Exonerating Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others at this time, will help lessen the agonizing memories of the sad events in the hearts of their families, the Ogoni people and the entire Niger Delta people as well as lovers of truth, justice and peace across the world.

“It will also soothe emanating concerns of citizens, given the current disturbing mood of the country and elicit international empathy and goodwill.

“PANDEF recalls, sadly, that Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others were executed on November 10, 1995 by the Abacha regime in defiance of international appeals following a fraudulent trial, which was a continuation of the orchestrated suppression and subjugation of the Niger Delta people and their just campaigns against the neglect and negligence by the Nigerian government, and the international oil companies.

“Surely, Mr President is fully apprised of the worldwide condemnation and outrage against the Nigerian government over the brutish killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight others, leading to the international isolation of Nigeria for some years.

“Regrettably, 26 years after that dastardly event, and after over 60 years of the expropriation and sequestration of the oil resources of the region by the Nigerian state, there are still no reckonable changes anywhere in the Niger Delta region, which remains among the least developed, and most deprived in the country.

“We continue to witness the wreckage of the abundant flora and fauna of our hitherto luxuriant ecosystem, with attendant devastation of livelihoods of the people due to the unconscionable, reckless activities of the oil and gas industry operators, with little or nothing done to improve the resultant dire living conditions of the people.

“While the Nigerian state and some individuals, non-indigenous to the region, enrich themselves with benefits from the Niger Delta-based oil and gas industry, paradoxically, the people of the host communities, from whose backyards billionaires are being spawned, receive mere soupçons and are rendered spectators of the oil and gas business.

“Ken Saro Wiwa and the others, those before him and those after him, will live infinitely in the hearts and minds of the people.

“Their exemplary and selfless courage, gallant services, and supreme sacrifices in pursuance of the civil, economic and environmental rights of our people would never be forgotten.

“The exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni leaders cannot be over-stressed, it is exigent and imperative.

“Mr. President has to do the needful and do it right now.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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