President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday declared his intention to grant a post-humous state pardon to the late playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders executed 26 years ago.
The President, who stated this when he received some leaders and people of Ogoni Land at the State House, Abuja, urged the leaders to sensitize their people on the protection of national assets including pipelines and other oil installations.
He said willful damage of national assets creates more havoc on the environment and hamper development in the area.
Buhari said the Federal Government was committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni Land so that indigenes could regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
The late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha’s administration ordered the execution of the Ogoni 9 on November 10, 1995, over perceived anti-government activities.
Other executed Ogoni leaders were Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine.
Buhari said: “The majority of farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea.”
The President said that bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.
He said the government would bring to a close all pending issues on sons of Ogoni Land.
He added: “Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished representatives of the people of Ogoni Land, I note the need to ensure completion of a 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.
“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.
“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.
“In spite of the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga.”
According to the President, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has been granted license to operate OML11, which will stimulate economic activities and integration in the zone.
“To ensure the stimulation of economic activities in Ogoni Land as underpinned by the vast petroleum resources underlying Ogoni Land and neighbouring communities, NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC has been granted licence to operate OML11.
“Accordingly, NNPC is hereby directed to engage all host communities, particularly Ogoni people to ensure inclusive processes of oil and gas exploration and production is anchored on optimum involvement of host communities.
“NPDC will lay a broad-based programme for the emergence of a new Ogoni Land for the benefit of the Ogoni people and Nigeria as a whole,’’ he added.