Saro Wiwa Spirit Still Alive
The ghost of International acclaim playwright, environmentalist, and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa killed 22 years ago in 1995 by the military junta of General Sanni Abacha has refused to go away. The Echoes of the unjust action against the activist and 8 other persons from Ogoni community is still splashing a black tar on the reputation and character of Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC.
Recently, Amnesty International with Esther Kiobel, the widow of one of the murdered Ogoni 9 again accused Shell of complicity in the murder of her husband and the 8 others. The full list of the men brutally murdered by the military junta included Ken Saro Wiwa, Nordu Eawo, Saturday Dobee, Felix Nuate, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, John Kpuine, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel.
Saro Wiwa and Shell
Mrs. Kiobel along with four other widows of the slain Ogoni 9 has approached a Netherlands civil court to seek redress over four of the executions. In the suit filed by Mrs. Kiobel against Shell, the oil giant is accused of among other things complicity in the arrest and detention of her husband, the violation of his personal integrity, violation of his right to fair trial and his right to life, and her own right to family life.
According to Amnesty International shell has been playing a hide and seek game over accepting responsibility in the matter for more than 20 years now “….Thanks to Esther Kiobel determination and bravery in taking on this corporate goliath, the past is finally catching up with it” Audrey Gaughran senior director of research at Amnesty International said.
In the suit, the Ogoni 9 widows are seeking substantial damages for harm caused by Shell unlawful actions and a public apology for the infamous role Shell played in the events culminating in the death of their husbands.
However, Shell spokesman Mr. Bamidele Odughesan has vehemently denied the claim stating that they are a victim of blackmail and calumny. He said that Shell as a responsible corporate citizen could not be involved in the committal of the offense they are accused of.
Saro Wiwa Smiling in the Grave
According to Mr. Odughesan “We (Shell) have always denied in the strongest terms the allegations made by the plaintiffs in this tragic case. The executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow Ogoni’s in 1995 were tragic events that were carried out by the military government in power at the time.”
We were shocked and saddened when we heard the news of the executions SPDC appealed to the Nigerian Government to grant clemency. To our deep regret, that appeal, and the appeals made by many others within and outside Nigeria went unheard.” Odughesan added.
While commenting on the report of Amnesty International on the report of findings it published indicting Shell’s role in the incident as being culpable, The Shell spokesman described it as false and without merit and proof. He re-iterated the fact that SPDC is an advocate of peace, community harmony and development and had never been involved in sponsorship or encouragement of community violence.