An eyewitness, Ibrahim Abdullahi, who was a prisoner when the environmental rights activist, the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed in 1995 by the late General Sani Abacha government, on Thursday said the late Ogoni leader cried out his innocence as he was being led to the gallows.
Mr. Abdullahi revealed this when he gave his account of how Saro Wiwa and eight others were killed and buried in an interview with journalists at the African Centre for Peace and Development, Abuja.
According to him, the soldiers who carried out the execution took their corpses to a bush and poured acid on them before dumping them in a shallow grave.
The 52-year old was granted a state pardon in June this year by the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, after spending 30 years in prison.
He had been imprisoned following the death of a man he had engaged in a brawl.
The Katsina-born trader narrated that he was in the prison with other inmates when the soldiers brought Saro-Wiwa, noting that the military men took over the entire premises on arrival and ordered the warders to go home.
Abdullahi recalled that Saro-Wiwa, who was the first to be executed, cried out his innocence and cursed those who framed him, saying the Niger Delta region would never know peace following the great atrocity they had committed.
The gallows, according to Abdullahi, was directly opposite the condemned cell where inmates, including the late Musa Yar’Adua, watchedas the soldiers killed Saro Wiwa.
He said after killing the nine Ogoni leaders, the soldiers called some inmates, including himself, to assist in carrying their corpses to a bush inside a tipper for burial.
Adullahi said, “I was in the cell one day in 1995 when they brought the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (retd.), Senator Shehu Sani and Sanusi Mato. Sani and Mato were transferred to Aba and Owerri prisons respectively on the following day but they left Yar’Adua in Port Harcourt.
“One day in 1995, soldiers brought Saro- Wiwa and three others from the military barracks and chased away everybody who was not a prisoner.
“ Saro-Wiwa, who was chained in the legs and hands, was marched to the condemned cell which was directly opposite the gallows where he and others would be hung. They met the five others who were already in the cell.
“One Major Obi, who led the operation, made sure that no warder witnessed the execution. They serviced the gallows which could execute two people at a time. The Attorney-General of Rivers State then came with a file which contained the charges preferred against the Ogoni leaders.
“The AG went straight to their cell and read the charges to them and went back. One of them, a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, was crying, lamenting that his wife had just given birth to a new baby and that he was observing a dry fast on that day.
“Saro-Wiwa maintained that he did not ask anybody to kill anyone but that the Federal Military Government just wanted to kill him. He then said there would never be peace in Ogoni land forever because of the innocent souls that Abacha wanted to sacrifice. After this, the soldiers marched him to the gallows.”