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Court dismisses appeal to reverse death sentence on Saro-Wiwa, 11 others

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Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, has struck out appeal by the leader of “Conscience of Ogoni People”, a civil society group, Gani Topba, against the judgment of Ogoni Civil disturbances tribunal of 1995 against the late Ogoni Environmental Activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa for lack of merit.

Late Wiwa and 11 others, were tagged criminals by the tribunal, which found guilty and sentenced them to death, Topba approached a Federal High court sitting in Port Harcourt to seek legal clearance of the name of the 12 Ogoni heroes from the negative image placed on them by the judgement of the tribunal and declare them innocent of the offence leveled against them.

But Justice Lima Abdulahi in a judgement he delivered in 2017 struck out the suite, thereby upholding the ruling of the tribunal, holding that the suit was an academic exercise.

Abdulahi said the Appellant did not state what he suffered following the judgment of the tribunal neither did he claim damages over the killing of the victims, following the decision of the panelists.

However, delivering the judgement on Thursday, Justice Cordelia Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo, yet upheld the judgement of the Federal High court, affirming that the “appellant was merely exercising his academic prowess”.

She said, “It is not the function or duty of the court to engage in academic exercise or speculation, the court was established to determine live issues”.

Justice Abdullahi had stated in his judgment that the Decree that established the Special Tribunal on Civil Disturbances. Including that of Ogoni that delivered the death sentence did not make provision for appeal.

He also stated that those sentenced to death or long term imprisonment had no opportunity to appeal the judgment based on the decree binding the Tribunal.

Striking out the appeal, Justice Jombo-Ofo stated that the appellant lacks needed Locus Standi to initiate the appeal. She, therefore, dismissed the appeal.

However, Topba told newsmen shortly after the judgement that it is not yet over. He insisted that the Appeal Court was biased and that he will proceed to the Supreme court.

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He said: “We are heading to the supreme court, it is said that the right of the minority could be denied even at this level, I had an incline of what today’s judgement would look like this and I am not surprised.

“I have hope in the supreme court of the federal republic of Nigeria, that it would do justice to this matter because Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed wrongly and that must be established, corrected because if it is not, it will happen again.”

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