The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), said on Friday that the Federal Government would consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the “Ogoni saga”.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President was quoted as saying this when Ogoni leaders paid him a visit at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Ogoni saga refers to the execution of Ogoni activist, Ken Saro Wiwa, and others by the military regime of the late Gen Sani Abacha.
At the peak of his non-violent campaign, Saro-Wiwa and eight others were tried by a special military tribunal for allegedly masterminding the gruesome murder of Ogoni chiefs at a pro-government meeting, and hanged in 1995.
Their execution provoked international outrage and resulted in Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations for over three years.
The United Nations General Assembly condemned the execution while the European Union condemned the executions, which it called a “cruel and callous act”, and imposed an arms embargo on Nigeria.
The United States recalled its ambassador from Nigeria, imposed an arms embargo on Nigeria, and slapped travel restrictions on members of the Nigerian military regime and their families.
The United Kingdom recalled its High Commissioner in Nigeria, and British Prime Minister John Major called the executions judicial murder. South Africa’s then, President, Nelson Mandela, lambasted Abacha for the execution.
Twenty-six years after the incident, however, Buhari told Ogoni leaders that he would consider a pardon.
Buhari said, “Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga.”
He added, “Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this regime’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.”