Port Harcourt — The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt has struck out an appeal seeking to annul the execution of renowned environmentalist and playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni men, who were sentenced to death by a military tribunal in 1995.
Saro-Wiwa and his group, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, after a prolonged battle had in 1993 driven the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC out of Ogoni oilfields in OML11, following what they had described as environmental terrorism, underdevelopment and political marginalization of the indigenous people by Shell and the Nigerian Government.
In 1995, the Military Government of Nigeria under the leadership of Sani Abacha, set up a kangaroo tribunal dubbed the Ogoni Civil Disturbance Special Tribunal, which tried and sentenced Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni men to death by hanging, for the murder of four of their kinsmen.
In the last two years, a pro-Ogoni group, the Conscience of Ogoni People, COOP, has approached the court to annul the Ogoni Civil Disturbance Tribunal which sentenced Ogoni rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others to death by hanging.
Other reliefs sought by the group from the Appeal Court, was to set aside the judgment of the tribunal against Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others on October 31, 1995, demanding that the court should declare them innocent of the charges meted against at the military tribunal.
But Justice Cordelia Jombo-Ofo of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt while delivering judgment on the appeal on Thursday, dismissed the suit for lack of merit.
Justice Jombo-Ofo said the decree which established the defunct Ogoni Civil Disturbance Special Tribunal was not properly constituted, adding that the reasoning of the judgment was not consistent.
The Judge said the appellant, Conscience of Ogoni People, did not state their interest and their relationship with the deceased persons or the damages or injuries he suffered by their deaths.
“The appellant was merely out in the matter to exercise his academic prowess and failed to show the court the dispute between him and the defendant.
“It is not the function or duty of the court to engage in academic exercise or speculation, the court was established to determine live issues,” the Appeal Court ruled.
Speaking to newsmen after the court session, the National Coordinator fo the Conscience of Ogoni People, Chief Gani Topba, expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment and vowed to head to the Supreme Court.
“We are heading to the supreme court, it is sad that the rights of the minority people could be denied even at this level. I had an incline of what today’s judgment would look like this and I am not surprised.
“I have hope that the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would do justice to this matter because Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed wrongly and that must be established correctly. Because if that is not done, what befell the Ogoni nine is likely to happen again to other people.”