The memory of the late Nigerian environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa, came alive again on Friday at COP27 in Egypt as Oilwatch group celebrated him, 27 years after his execution. The Oilwatch group includes Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nigeria; Earthlife Johannesburg, Johannesburg; CAPPA, Africa; Kabetkache Women Development Centre, Nigeria and the Centre for Environmental Justice, Togo.
Mr Saro Wiwa was executed on November 10, 1995, alongside eight others by the then military government as a result of environmental activism over the oil exploration in the Ogoni area of the Niger Delta.
Nnimmo Bassey, an Environmental Activist and the Director of HOMEF, said the spirit of the late activist lived on; and the struggle they led continued to inspire the resistance to ecological crimes by extractive companies in Nigeria and around the world.
“Today, we remember Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight Ogoni leaders who were wrongfully executed by the Nigerian state on Nov. 10, 1995.
“We also call to mind the several earth and human rights defenders who have been martyred across the world by, or for, fossil fuel and mining corporations.
“Blood has flown, our lands have been polluted, and the world is heating. We demand justice for our heroes.
“A halt to dependence on fossil fuels — the real climate action— and a restoration of all polluted lands and reparation for ecocide,” he said
Makoma Lakelakala of Earthlife on her part, said “as the world discusses the deteriorating climate concerns at the ongoing COP27, the need to shift away from dirty energy has never been more urgent.
“In honour of climate protectors whose lives were brutally cut short, the UNFCCC needs to have a clause in the negotiated climate convention that ensures protection of those upholding the rights of nature, planet and people.”
Celestine Akpobari, Team Leader at Peoples Advancement Centre, Nigeria, said the occasion was meant to remind the world that the situation of things in Ogoni was far worse than they were in the days of Ken Saro-Wiwa.
“It has been said during this climate change conference that the world is on a speed lane to climate hell, but I want to say that Ogoni people have been there all these years,” said Mr Akpobari.
He noted that the planned resumption of oil operations in Ogoniland should be halted as it was capable of provoking conflict, saying the group resisted the new scramble for African oil and gas.
Emem Okon, Director, Kabetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Nigeria, noted: “As we remember Ken Saro-Wiwa and other martyrs today, we pledge to carry on with their messages.”
She stressed the need for all polluted areas to be cleaned up and polluters held accountable for their ecological crimes in communities across the world.