By Abdulahi, An Eyewitness
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 gave his account of how the late Ogoni leader and eight others were killed and buried.
He said 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.
Abdullahi, who was granted a state pardon in June this year by the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, after spending 30 years in prison, stated this in an interview with journalists at the African Centre for Peace and Development, Abuja.
The 52-year old who became a prisoner following the death of a man he fought with, was at the centre being run by Senator Shehu Sani to collect some financial assistance to enable him to settle down after his long years of incarceration.
The Katsina-born trader said he was in the prison with other inmates when the soldiers brought Saro-Wiwa and three others to join five of their colleagues earlier jailed.
He said the military men took over the entire premises on arrival and ordered the warders to go home.
He said the entire area was barricaded with four Armoured Personnel Carriers positioned in different directions.
Abdullahi explained that Saro-Wiwa, who was the first to be executed, insisted that he was innocent when he was being led to the gallows.
The gallows, according to Abdullahi, was directly opposite the condemned cell where inmates, including the late Musa Yar’Adua, watched helplessly as they snuffed life out of Saro-Wiwa.
He stated that the environmental rights activist cursed those who framed him and also said the Niger Delta region would never know peace following the great atrocity they had committed.
Abdullahi said the soldiers, after killing the nine Ogoni leaders, called some inmates, including himself to assist in carrying their corpses inside a tipper to a bush for burial.
He 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.
“They brought out his corpse and put him in a slab and they invited a medical doctor who certified him dead. They called four of us to take his corpse.
“That was how they executed them one after the other. One of them was even calling the name of Jesus until he was pushed to the gallows.
“After the execution, Major Obi collected the films of the hanging from the photographer and the tape from the video man and asked us to put all the corpses inside a tipper which was used to covey them and four of us to the bush where they were buried.
“The soldiers then poured raw acid on Saro-Wiwa and others when we got to the place called Bolokiri and their bodies melted instantly inside a single pit where they put all of them.”