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june 18 1999


June 18 Reports

10,000 people observe the International Day of Action

ABOUT 10,000 people from across Nigeria and the Niger Delta ethnic nations in particular Friday joined the rest of the freedom-loving world to observe the International Day of Action against corporate rule and the existing international financial system. The event coincides with the meeting of the G-8 nations in Koln, Germany where these countries intend to further pursue their vision of "free"trade, economic growth and corporate control.

The Nigeria event tagged "carnival of the oppressed" kicked off about 9.00 a.m. when thousands of people from all walks of life gathered at the Port Harcourt International Airport to wait for Dr. Owens Wiwa, younger brother of the slain Ogoni nationalist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Owens was four years ago forced into exile in North America by the late paranoid dictator General Sani Abacha.

By 10.30 a.m. the plane conveying Owens from Lagos landed in Port Harcourt. He was accompanied by Sam Olukoya, a journalist and Doifie Ola, journalist, environmentalist and member of the Co-ordinating Council of the Chikoko Movement. On hand to receive him at the airport were activists, workers, women, children, the unemployed, market women and professionals including former minister Dr Mofia Akobo who heads the Southern Minorities Movement; Mr. Oronto Douglas, environmental human rights lawyer and leader of the Chikoko Movement as well as Mrs Joi Yowika, the Ogoni lawyer who helped secure the release of the Ogoni 20 among others.

After a brief speech by Owens who expressed optimism that the peoples of the Niger Delta would overcome in their struggle against the alliance between the Nigerian state and Western multinational oil companies like Shell, Agip, Mobil, Chevron, Elf and others who have for over four decades destroyed the basis of livelihood of the Niger Delta peoples.

The crowd then moved in a convoy to Agip junction in Port Harcourt where a street named after General Abacha was unofficially re-named after Ken Saro-Wiwa as the old signpost pulled out. The crowd also stormed Agip offices in Port Harcourt where two mock coffins where deposited in its front in protest against the human rights atrocities of the Italian company, the most recent being the carnage at Ikebiri, Southern Ijaw local government of Bayelsa State where soldiers on the orders of Agip shot eight villagers, including a two-year old baby last April.

The demonstrators also blockaded the gates leading to the offices of Shell in Port Harcourt. The blockade lasted for about two hours and solidarity messages were presented by representatives of virtually all the ethnic nationalities in Niger Delta and groups with transnational agenda like the National Association of Nigerian Students. There was dancing and singing in the streets, bringing Port Harcourt, Nigeria's petroleum capital to a standstill.

Earlier the convoy had gone to # 24, Aggrey Road, Port Harcourt which the late Saro-Wiwa had donated to the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) for use as its office. The office was re-opened by Mrs. Yowika who is regarded as the Esther of the Ogoni. Addressing the gathering at Aggrey Road, Owens Wiwa pointed out that all those who had a hand in the murder of the Ogoni 9 will be punished sooner than later. Oronto Douglas bemoaned the fate of the suffering peoples of the Niger Delta in the hands of corporations and said "enough is enough". Dr Akobo enjoined the peoples of the Delta to continue to fight for their liberation from native colonialists and global forces of injustice as "we are in the age of freedom". He enjoined all peoples of the Delta to unite as one , the easier to defeat their common enemies.

The June 18 event in Nigeria was co-ordinated was co-ordinated by the Chikoko Movement. Several ethnic nationality organisations, social movements and NGOs participated in the event, including: Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth, Nigeria), MOSOP, Ogoni Solidarity Movement, Ijaw Youth Council, National Association of Nigerian Students, Peoples Democratic Liberation Party and Women in Nigeria-Rivers State. Other groups are Pan African Youth Movement, Niger Delta Women for Justice, Society for Awareness and Growth in Etche, Civil Liberties Organisation-Rivers/Bayelsa,Watch the Niger Delta, Oodua Peoples Congress, Isoko National Youth Movement, Egi Forum, Oron National Forum and the Supreme Egbesu Assembly.


For: Publicity Bureau, Chikoko Movement

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Younger brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa, hanged Minority Right crusader, Dr Owens Wiwa returned from a four-year exiled to Ogoni yesterday vowing to continue the struggle from where the deceased left off."I am back to continue the struggle from where my brother Ken stopped. We will fight until Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta are liberated," Owens said. The MOSOP office located at No.24 Aggrey Road, a building belonging to late Ken Saro-Wiwa which was closed in 1995 after Saro-Wiwa was hanged was immediately re-opened with the ceremonial cutting of a tape performed by Mrs. Joy Wohika, the lawyer who secured the release of the Ogoni 20 youths.

Dr. Wiwa said that the Ogonis would ensure that every demand contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) was realised, even as he vowed that all those who contributed to the death of Ogoni people would not go unpunished.

But he was quick to point out the struggle must be peaceful, describing MOSOP as a peaceful organisation which must remain peaceful in its struggle against oppression.

Thousands of Ogonis and other groups in the Niger Delta including members of the Egbesu Supreme Assembly from Ijaw land had earlier dismantled the Sani Abacha Road signpost at GRA II, Port Harcourt, which they put inside a coffin.

The road was renamed Ken Saro-Wiwa Road, while the coffin marked "Abacha Rest in Pieces" was deposited at the gate of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC). Another coffin marked "Shell in Hell" was also deposited at the gate of Shell Petroleum Development Company at the company's Eastern Division office.

Also speaking at the re-opening of MOSOP office, chairman of the South Minorities Movement and former Petroleum Minister Dr. Mofia Akobo, called on those who betrayed the Ogoni cause to retrace their steps and join in the struggle for a better Ogoni nation.

"We want a united Ogoni nation and a united Niger Delta. No one should be ashamed of the struggle. If you had betrayed the cause previously, come back home and join in the struggle. The entire Niger Delta must be liberated," he said.

Mr. Oronto Douglas, Deputy Director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA) said that the reopening of MOSOP office for years after the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa signified the unification of the Ogoni nation.

He urged the people to brace up and take advantage of the newfound freedom to strengthen their quest for justice.

Economic activities were paralysed in Port Harcourt yesterday as Ogonis and other ethnic groups in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States came out in their thousands to receive Owens Wiwa whose home coming coincided with the International Day of Action Against Corporate Rule and Imperialism.

The Ogoni flag of green/yellow/blue with six stars was hoisted at the re-opened MOSOP office, while poems written by Ken Saro-Wiwa on injustice recited by one MOSOP activist. While the recitation was on, Dr. Owens Wiwa could not control his emotion, and broke down in tears.

The group later marched to Shell office where they held a rally and deposited a mock coffin.

This mail has been sent to you from the Delta Information Service of the Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria. DIS-ERA transmits news and information from the Niger Delta and Nigeria to interested organisations and individuals working on environmental sustainability, human rights and democratic development. If you do not wish to receive future mails from this list, kindly request removal via e-mail to: disera@infoweb.abs.net

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PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has approved the release of the remains of late Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni men who were executed on November 10, 1995. Dr. Owens Wiwa, younger brother of the late playwright and environmental activist, disclosed this yesterday in Port Harcourt. He also said that the family is already liaising with the Rivers State government on the logistics of effecting the release.

The contrast between those dark, troubled days in late 1995, when Owens slipped away and his return on Friday to Ogoniland was unmistakable.

A slight drizzle characteristic of Rivers State in June, did nothing to cloud the charged atmosphere which enveloped Ogoniland and Port Harcourt in anticipation of the homecoming of Dr Owens Wiwa, younger brother of Ogoni rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Owens had fled the land to avoid the same tragic fate that ended Saro-Wiwa's life.

From parts of Port Harcourt, all over Ogoniland and beyond, people had assembled at the Port Harcurt airport, in Rivers State as early as eight in the morning of Friday bearing welcoming posters, banners nd wearing white T-shirts inscribed with the photos of Ken Saro-Wiwa and bearing the words "Spirits of Ogoni" lent a festive air to the Airport that was undiminished by the cloudy skies.

Drum bets and songs, in a mix of languages as varied as the ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta and a highly expectant welcoming crowd provided a dream reception for an appreciative Wiwa when he stepped off the aircraft that brought him in at 10.30a.m. Not even the activities of security operatives of FAAN dampened the enthusiasm of the surging crowd of Ogonis, Ijaws, Isokos, Ikwerres, journalists, officials of Chikoko, the pan-Niger Delta resistance group which organised the reception, and others including Oronto Douglas, Felix Tuodolo, Dr. Mofia Akobo, Prof. Turner Isoun and others estimated at over 10,000.

Owens Wiwa expressed his "gratitude for this reception," saying "I cannot express sufficiently my pleasure to be back home and to be received by this crowd of Ogoni people and our supporters from all over the Niger Delta."

Following this, the long convoy made up of scores of cars and buses moved to the offices of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) for symbolic dropping of a miniature coffin in protest against the oil companies' despoliation of the Niger Delta environment.

The orderly procession was nearly marred when some mmboile policemen tried to stop the group. The situation was saved from degenerating into rowdiness through the intervention of Chikoko officials who called for calm.

A huge gathering of people lined the streets of Ogoniland from Tai-Eleme to Bori to welcome Owens Wiwa. In Bori, a lrge crowd was n hand to welcome the returning son. At the ancestral home of the Wiwas, Pa Benson and Madam Teresa Wiwa waited in barely concealed anxiety for their son. Pa Wiwa told The Guardian on Sunday: "My son's return is the will of God. Ken is dead but he did not die of hunger. He died to free the Ogoni people from suffering. What God decided is what happens, not what humans want."

This mail has been sent to you from the Delta Information Service of the Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria. DIS-ERA transmits news and information from the Niger Delta and Nigeria to interested organisations and individuals working on environmental sustainability, human rights and democratic development. If you do not wish to receive future mails from this list, kindly request removal via e-mail to: disera@infoweb.abs.net

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When Kenule Ken Saro-Wiwa said in one of his last day speeches that the injustice which led the military authorities to jail and finally hang him would be reverberated again by generations to come really came to pass last Friday in Port Harcourt as the oil city stood still to remember the gruesome killing of the Ogoni and Niger Delta hero and the coming back home of the late playwright's younger brother, Dr. Owens Saro-Wiwa.

The day was also used to mark the International Day of Action against Corporate rule and Imperialism as the occasion witnessed the presence of all the human rights movements for the emancipation of the Niger Delta area.

As early as 8.00am more than 10,000 people had gathered as the Port Harcourt International Airport to welcome Dr. Owens who is also the coordinator of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Also, part of the mammoth crown that marked the day also gathered at the number 24 Aggrey Road office of the late playwright where MOSOP activities were at its peak before he was hanged by the Komo and Abacha Junta on the 10th of November 1995.

Dr. Owens' homecoming was not only to ensure the unity and renewed solidarity for the levels of MOSOP but was also to ensure that the closed and disbanded office was formally reopened to symbolise reconciliation of the Ogonis and the Niger Deltans to forgo the struggle ahead.

The medical doctor and environmental activist was received on arrival at the Airport by leaders of the various movements in the Niger Delta area. They include Mr. Felix Tuodolo of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Oronto Douglas of the Chikoko Movement, the Isoko National Youths Movement led by Brokins Edafadhe, its Vice President; others present include chairman of the southern Minorities Movement and the Niger Delta peace project, Dr. M. T. Akobo, Mr. Patrick Naagbauton of Ogoni solidarity movements, Sgt. Werinipre Digifa of Supreme Egbesu Assembly, Mr. Nwuzi I. Aloysius, Coordinator of Society for Awareness and Growth in Etche; Comrade Che Ibegwura of the Egi Peoples Coalition and other similar movements were present at the epoch making rally.

From the Airport Dr. Owens and his train moved to the late Dr. Obi Wali's compound at Rumuigbo. There, tributes were paid to the late Wali who had also spearheaded the freedom of the oppressed in the Niger Delta region. He was also one of the agitators for the creation of Port Harcourt State before he died some years back.

One remarkable event that took place during the rally that took them to the Agip Company gate was to protest the killing of some youths at the company's installations at Ikebiri. There, a mock coffin was dropped at the Agip gate indicating the series of killings perpetrated by military men to protect the Italian oil outfit in Niger Delta area.

The various environmental rights groups also presented soul-moving speeches at the occasion to remember the slain one. The recent gruesome killings of the seven Ikebiri youths was also reechoed.

Also, the popular Abacha Road leading to the new GRA from the Agip roundabout in Mile 4 was also renamed "Ken Saro-Wiwa Road" as the signpost of Abacha was removed and buried around the place.

With this scenario the mammoth crowd present proclaimed, "To hell with Abacha, anything Abacha should be wiped out of the state and Nigeria in general."

On their way to Aggrey Road, a mild drama that was to cost a police man his life occurred as he played into the hands of the fiery Egbesu boys. But he was quickly saved by the leaders of the day.

The train, made up of sons and daughters of Ogoni land, Ijaws, Urobos, Etches, Isokos, Itsekiris and a hot of other oppressed tribes in the Niger Delta including student Union bodies all flying the Ogoni flag of Green, Yellow and Blue colours and carrying placards with series of solidarity statements, arrived at the number 24 Aggrey Road office of Ken Saro-Wiwa at about 12.50am in a large convoy of cars, buses and lorries conveying the different supporters and solidarity groups.

At exactly 1.20pm, Dr. Owens stepped out of the Grey V-Boot Mercedes Benz car with registration number - Lagos, CB 321 - EKY. Spotting a black T-shirt with inscriptions on the backside, "Lord take my soul the struggle continues" and with Ken's half picture beside the write-up. On his head was the MOSOP cap and a spectacle to watch.

The dark complexioned Ken look alike mounted the rostrum and addressed the mammoth crowd that expected a lot of messages of hope from the activist who also fled the country to Canada in the heydays of Ken's arrest and trial.

Before he spoke, Barrister Joy Nyowika, the vibrant and fiery daughter of Senator Cyprus Nunieh cut the tape to formally reopen the MOSOP office where MOSOP activities will be re-enacted again, this time in a more free atmosphere where the gains of the past will be reviewed for a way forward.

Speaking at the rally, Dr. Owens told the mammoth crowd that, "not one person who contributed to the death of Ogoni, Ijaw and other youths will go free."

This fact, according to him, is certain and reiterated that the struggle must ensure that the Ogoni Bill of Rights and all the demands in the Kaiama Declaration and similar demands by other ethnic groups are realised.

Dr. Saro-Wiwa appealed that the struggle be approached in the most peaceful manner possible so that there won't be the temptation of falling into hands of the Nigerian soldiers whom he described as always out to kill the innocent and harmless people of the Delta area.

"We must continue the struggle with integrity and peace," Dr Saro-Wiwa urged and commended all those who stood by the words of Ken and all those killed in the struggle.

Dr. M.T. Akobo, who was described as the father of struggle also, spoke at the occasion. According to him, it was a time for restoration and glory.

Akobo explained that the reopening of the MOSOP office will be a symbol of reconciliation because as he put it, "We want a United Ogoni and Niger Delta in the struggle."

Apparently referring to those nursing ill feelings on the style of the struggle, Dr Akobo told them: "If you have wronged the Ogonis, the Ijaws and the Niger Deltans, as citizens, do not be ashamed to come home and join them in the struggle."

Expressing great hope at the dark end of the struggle, the Niger Delta activist submitted that although there may be more bloodbath, he was confident that there must be success at the end and reminded all that the struggle for freedom is blowing all the world and the Niger Delta area won't be an exception and, cited the recent happenings in Kosovo where the people are negotiating for freedom.

At the Shell gate Rumuomasi where the rally was terminated for the day, series of solidarity speeches were made by the various groups as they recalled and condemned the inhuman acts perpetrated by the British/Dutch Oil Company in the Niger Delta area.

In his speech, Oronto Douglas, leader of the Chikoko Movement, remarked that imperialism, which today is presented as "globalisation" and corporate rule is directly responsible for the miseries, for the privatisation, commercialisation, and retrenchments of different countries.

This mail has been sent to you from the Delta Information Service of the Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria. DIS-ERA transmits news and information from the Niger Delta and Nigeria to interested organisations and individuals working on environmental sustainability, human rights and democratic development. If you do not wish to receive future mails from this list, kindly request removal via e-mail to: disera@infoweb.abs.net


A group of organisations have concluded plans for a protest rally that will involve the blockade of Shell's office complex in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigerian oil industry.

Speakers at the rally will include Oronto Douglas of the Chikoko Movement, Owens Wiwa, brother of slain Ogoni leader, Ken Saro Wiwa, Felix Tuodolo of the Ijaw Youth Council, Isaac Osuoka of Oilwatch Africa, Ken Henshaw, President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Wale Balogun of the Oodua Peoples Congress etc.

The programme for the Day will begin with an Ogele procession through major streets of Port Harcourt, to welcome Owens Wiwa back home from exile in North America. The Ogele procession will stop over at 24 Aggrey Road, the office of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) where Owens will make a brief speech.

From there the procession will move to the gate of Shell's offices for the rally that will be a CARNIVAL OF THE OPPRESSED.

Organisations participating in the June 18 CARNIVAL OF THE OPPRESSED include:

  • The Chikoko Movement
  • Environmental Rights Action
  • Ogoni Solidarity Movement
  • Ijaw Youth Council
  • National Association of Nigerian Students
  • Peoples Democratic Liberation Party
  • Women in Nigeria-Rivers State
  • Pan African Youth Movement
  • Niger Delta Women for Justice
  • Society for Awareness and Growth in Etche
  • Civil Liberties Organisation-Rivers/Bayelsa
  • Watch the Niger Delta
  • Oodua Peoples Congress
  • Isoko National Youth Movement
  • Egi Forum
  • Oron National Forum
Contact Persons:

Doifie Ola
Tel: 234 1 4932606
E-mail: disera@infoweb.abs.net

Jaiye Gaskia
Tel: 234 84 236365
E-mail: oilwatch@infoweb.abs.net

Land address: Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria
Tel/fax: 234 84 236365
E-mail: oilwatch@infoweb.abs.net

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