Twenty-Five years ago, Nigeria’s Niger Delta region burst into international headlines.
Nine Nigerian environmental activists including a popular writer Ken Saro Wiwa, accused of murder were executed by the then Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha’s regime.
Saro Wiwa, tired of seeing the environmental pollution and the exploitation of natural resources in his native Ogoniland, founded the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) in 1990.
Eight other leaders worked alongside him: Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine.
Their deaths sparked an international outcry and diplomatic sanctions that have since been resolved.
But the reason for the environmentalist’s activism which put them in Sani Abacha’s execution list remain till this day.
Environmental pollution and the exploitation of natural resources in the Niger delta which produces the west African country’s number one income earner, Petroleum, has continued.
In 2011 the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released the first scientific analysis of pollution that confirmed the area which covers nine coastal southern Nigerian states had indeed turned into an ecological disaster.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari In 2016, launched a $1 billion oil clean-up exercise in the Niger Delta — promising to reverse the damage and restore the ecosystems.
But observers say very little has been done and the pollution has persisted.