Profile picture
Demola Olarewaju @DemolaRewaju
, 50 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
Today actually makes it over two decades since the sad killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Nigerian State under Abacha alongside 8 others: Felix Nuate, Baronem Kobel, Saturday Dobee, Daniel Gbooko, Nordu Eawu, Baribor Bera, Paul Levura and John Kpuinee.

I think it’s worth a Thread.
This thread captures history from various perspectives all blended together to reveal a fuller picture.

It shows that Saro-Wiwa was also human like any of us but he was exceptionally courageous and dogged in spite of his human flaws.
Saro-Wiwa was a diminutive man who invariably always smoked a pipe and was considered quite brilliant.

He wrote a popular play which was adapted for TV when we were younger “Basi and Company”.

He was from Ogoni - an oil-producing area in Rivers State which has several villages.
He was a lecturer at UNN when the civil war broke out and he supported the federal troops which made him leave there for his village in Bori.

He rallied the Ogonis alongside Edward Kobani to support the federal side and in the 70s became a Regional Commissioner in Rivers State.
The Constituent Assembly of 1977 saw him contesting against Edward Kobani to represent the Ogonis but they didn’t fall out at that time.

IBB appointed him to work in MAMSER which was like a social mobilisation or propaganda outfit in 1989 and Saro-Wiwa left the following year.
He then set about rallying the Ogoni people against the oil companies which were responsible for the environmental degradation of the area.

Saro-Wiwa got involved with the pro-Democracy movement and added that to his cause so by 1993, he went all out against the IBB regime.
January 2nd 1993 was the date IBB had initially promised to handover.

1993 was declared the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People by the UN.

So Saro-Wiwa fixed January 4th 1993 as the date for a mass rally for the Ogonis to bring world attention to their plight.
The rally was successful as over 300,000 people showed up from the six Ogoni kingdoms with wide coverage by the international media.

Some Ogoni youths symbolically took over an oil-field in an area called Bomu which Shell had abandoned once the protest was announced.
At the head of the crowd which was organised under the aegis of MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People) was Ken Saro-Wiwa himself alongside other leaders

Several of them were subsequently invited by the SSS including Edward Kobani and the MOSOP President Garrick Leton.
Intimidation tactics were deployed freely against them and soon the youths became quite radical.

The Elders capitulated to the IBB regime and issued a press statement promising that there would be no more protests in Ogoni but the youths who supported Saro-Wiwa debunked them.
Shell workers had to be escorted to worksites by the Nigerian military and on April 30 when they went with Wilbros workers to repair a pipeline which had spilled oil in Biara village, they met a protesting crowd.

Soldiers opened fire on the crowd: 1 or more killed, 11 injured.
The rivalry between Saro-Wiwa and Edward Kobani from 1977 now found them often on opposing sides with Saro-Wiwa leading the Youths under the banner of NYCOP - National Youth Council of Ogoni People and Kobani supported by leaders of MOSOP like Leton and Albert Badey, the VP.
NYCOP was more or less Saro-Wiwa’s enforcement arm as Secretary of MOSOP and it was allied with many other strong groups.

The elections to be held on June 12 of the same year found Saro-Wiwa calling for a boycott but Kobani insisted the Ogonis participate fully.
The boycott however was successful with many Ogonis not participating.

Allegations of intimidation by Saro-Wiwa’s NYCOP followed as Edward Kobani claimed the youths had surrounded his house all day to prevent him from going out to vote.

IBB therefore had Saro-Wiwa arrested.
His arrest made him quite popular around the world as several groups including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Association of Nigerian Authors and others calling for his release.

IBB relented and released him. Saro-Wiwa later wrote a memoir on it called “A Month and A Day”.
In that book, he wrote that “The genocide of the Ogoni has taken on a new dimension. The manner of it I will narrate in my next book – if I live to tell the tale”.

The worst was however yet to come for the Ogonis who had become radical in keeping oil companies out of their land.
Shell on the other hand kept complaining to the IBB regime that it was unable to access its oilfields freely and between July and August of 1993, military attacks were carried out on the Ogonis but masqueraded as ethnic clashes between them and their neighbours.
Karl Maier who actually visited the village of Kaa in Southern Ogoni confirmed that he saw spent hand grenades and other weapons available only to the military.

Claude Ake’s panel also confirmed the same and the Prof even wept when he saw how devastating the military had been.
Abacha A’s takeover of federal power saw the exit of the civilian Govt of Rufus Ada-George in Rivers State and in came Col. Dauda Komo who reorganised a joint military team called RSISTF - Rivers State Internal Security Task Force headed by a notorious Lt. Col. Paul Okuntimo.
A memo written by Okuntimo to Abacha through Komo only recently leaked stated:

“Wasting targets cutting across communities and leadership cadre’s especially vocal individuals … Wasting operations coupled with psychological tactics of displacement/wasting as noted above”.
The plan to waste vocal Ogoni leaders was hatched following Shell’s complaint that in 1993, it had lost about $200m due to the activities of radicals in the Ogoni area

The military regime’s solution was to kill as many people as stood for the protection of the Ogoni environment.
The extermination plan was devilishly simple: propaganda was used to trigger ethnic clashes between the Ogonis and their neighbours such as the Andonis, the Okrikas and the Ndokis.

Okuntimo’s RSISTF would then step in under the guise of peacemaker and kill more Ogonis.
Okuntimo was so notorious that a foreign journalist who came to interview him was detained by the SSS on his orders.

Her name is Geraldine Brooks and you can read her story if you google it.

Okuntimo once forced an Ogoni Chief at gunpoint to confer a title on him.
The title “Gberemene Fefele” meant “King of Peace” but Okuntimo was more known for his ruthlessness.

Back to Wiwa and Kobani though: the schism in MOSOP though kept growing wider and got worse with the Shell/Wilbros incident mentioned earlier where one person was killed.
Wiwa had been sent abroad to obtain some documents only to be seen on CNN speaking for the Ogonis.

Before he got back, MOSOP leaders had settled with Shell/Wilbros for 1m whereas the initial demand had been 7.9m.

Wiwa even claimed that he had negotiated with Shell abroad for
For 1m dollars as against the Naira settlement the Ogoni Elders has got.

This announcement won him more followers and he labelled the Elders as “vultures” who had sold the Ogonis cheaply under the guise of needing money for burial funds for the dead victim.
Wiwa soon began to describe himself as the President of MOSOP and address the Elders by first name and his supporters became increasingly violent with the Elders led by Edward Kobani.

In a letter written to Kobani and seen by Father Matthew Kukah, Wiwa was quite rude to the man.
In April 1993, he had taken the title of Mene Kpamagbara of Bodo (Kobani’s hometown) and in the letter, he directed Kobani to respect him.

He was at this time being addressed by the youths as “Your Excellency” while the Elders were referred to as “vultures” by the youths.
Every meeting held by the Elders was called a money sharing meeting by the youths and one of such meetings held on May 21, 1994 in the palace of Chief James Bagia, the Gberemene of Gokana at Giokoo in Ogoniland was attacked and four men were killed by NYCOP youths.
Before the Ogoni 9 therefore, there were the Ogoni 4 killed on that fateful day by thousands of youths in a mob and they were: Edward Kobani, Albert Badey, Samuel Orage and Theophilus Orage.

Alhaji Mohammed Kobani managed to escape death that day but watched his brother killed.
Mohammed Kobani was flung into a corner from where he watched his brother Edward stabbed with broken bottles in the hands and back, a rake sunk in his skull and a pole stuck up his anus with chants of “e-so-be!” (Local pronunciation of the colonial chant “apes obey”).
Once Edward was finished off, the mob dragged Mohammed from his corner but he escaped and ran to a nearby shrine and cling to a sacred tree.

The mob asked the Gberemene to make the necessary libation so they could go and drag Mohammed out but the king refused to do so.
Albert Badey ran into a Methodist Church in Nweol area and was not so lucky as the Christian God is forgiving: he was dragged out and beaten to a pulp

Being asthmatic, he tried to use his inhaler but the mob suspected the device to be a metaphysical object and broke his fingers.
Ignatius Kogbara who has been a federal Minister was on his way to the meeting but when he saw the mob, he did a U-turn and drove off to a nearby military checkpoint where he reported to the men of the RSISTF.

They refused to act because they were waiting for orders from above.
Charles Tambou who later worked with Governor Seriake Dickson as an aide and also a lecturer at Niger Delta University was then the editor of a PH newspaper Sunray.

He was first to inform Wiwa of the killings and Wiwa reportedly responded “Oh My God! They have finished me!”
Wiwa and fourteen were arrested the following day for being responsible for or complicit in the gruesome murder of the Ogoni 4 and the farce that was their trial made mockery of anything close to the truth in their complicity in the mob action of May 21, 1994.
The trial commenced on January 28, 1995 but rather than charge them to a regular court of law, Abacha showed his hand by setting up a special tribunal headed by Justice Ibrahim Auta, Justice Etowa Arikpo and Lt. Col. Hameed Ali.

The prosecution was led by Joseph Dauda.
The Defence team had Gani Fawehinmi, Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana and a very young Oronto Douglas.

Okuntimo imposed himself on the trial and routinely had Falana and Douglas beaten up anytime they came to see Wiwa for client briefing.

Eventually, the lawyers pulled out.
Wiwa took over his own defence, as did Ledum Mitee. Wiwa was eventually convicted alongside eight others but Mitee was set free.

Mohammed Kobani and many Ogonis testified against Wiwa as having invited the youths against the elders on various occasions.
Priscilla Vikue who later worked with Gov. Peter Odili testified at the trial saying “Saro-Wiwa was a fake who wanted power. He told people what they wanted to hear. . . . He told them they would become rich and drive Mercedes-Benz and not have to work for it”.
On October 31, 1995 Justice Auta found the Ogoni 9 guilty and in response, Saro-Wiwa famously quoted the Holy Quran and said “All those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor”.

On November 8, Abacha’s PRC met to review the verdict.
The meeting had Patrick Aziza, Tajudeen Olarenwaju, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Oladipo Diya, Victor Malu, Ibrahim Coomasie, Mike Akhigbe, Ishaya Bamaiyi, Nsikak Eduok, Jeremiah Useni, and Michael Agbamuche the AGF as the only civilian present.
The minutes of the meeting were exclusively released by Premium Times a few years ago and it showed that the PRC felt it had been seen as feeble on the matter of Obasanjo and co and it had to act decisively to send a clear message that it could be tough on issues also.
The verdict was therefore upheld and two days later on November 10, 1995 - twenty two years ago today, Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogonis were killed.

End of thread.

(Would like to discuss the Mandela/South Africa angle and debunk rumours of how he died but I’m bored and tired.)
So many lessons here and Kukah puts them in perspective in one of his books.

Saro-Wiwa wasn’t perfect and had many huge flaws.

By killing him though, the state turned him into a martyr than is revered by many today as a symbol of resistance to dictatorial Governments.
The bodies of the Ogoni 4 were never recovered.

The families of the Ogoni 9 brought a lawsuit against Shell which was settled out of court with $15.5m paid as compensation to the families in 2009, 13 years after the case was filed and few days before the trial was to commence.
A 10th person was included in the settlement – Karalolo Kogbara who in 1993 had been shot by soldiers while protesting the destruction of her village to make way for a Shell oil pipeline and had consequently lost the arm to the gunshot.
$8.5million of the sum went into a Trust Fund called Kiisi, and legal fees. While the sum of $7million was shared by the 10 plaintiffs representing the Ogoni 9+1.

Ledum Mitee showed sagacity by asking that the settlement should also be extended to the families of the Ogoni 4.
The Ogoni 4 and the Ogoni 9 were eventually reconciled by the Oputa Panel which also took testimonies of violence/inhuman behaviour on the part of Okuntimo and Komo.

I should tie this issue to the present Govt with the lies on Ogoni clean-up but...tired.

Make the connection.
Saro-Wiwa at some point started claiming that he was the embodiment of the “Spirit of Ogoni”.

Amina Mohammed lied about Ogoni CleanUp.

Metaphysical minds may make a connection between that and the discovery of her Corruption on the 22nd anniversary of his Translation to Glory.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Demola Olarewaju
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!