Academic journal article Social Justice

Final Statement to the Tribunal

Academic journal article Social Justice

Final Statement to the Tribunal

Article excerpt

MY LORD, WE ALL STAND BEFORE HISTORY. I AM A MAN OF PEACE, OF IDEAS. Appalled by the denigrating poverty of my people who live on a richly endowed land, distressed by their political marginalization and economic strangulation, angered by the devastation of their land, their ultimate heritage, anxious to preserve their right to life and to a decent living, and determined to usher to this county as a whole a fair and just democratic system, which protects everyone and every ethnic group and gives us all a valid claim to human civilization, I have devoted all my intellectual and material resources, my very life, to a cause in which I have total belief and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated. I have no doubt at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter the trials and tribulations which I and those who believe with me may encounter on our journey. Neither imprisonment nor death can stop our ultimate victory.

I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell Oil is here on trial, and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it, for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war the company has waged in the delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war will be duly punished. The crime of the company's dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.

On trial also are the Nigerian nation, its present rulers, and all those who assist them. Any nation which can do to the weak and disadvantaged what the Nigerian nation has done to the Ogoni loses a claim to independence and to freedom from outside influence. I am not one of those who shies away from protesting injustice and oppression, arguing that they are expected of a military regime. …

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