Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), who was handpicked by the Abacha regime as a member of the kangaroo tribunal that sentenced renowned environmentalist and minority rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa to death by hanging, was on Thursday, August 27, 2015 named by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
A statement by presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina confirmed the appointment alongside the following – Babachir David Lawal (Secretary to the Government of the Federation), Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff to the President), Kure Martin Abeshi (Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service), Senator Ita Enang (SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters – Senate), and Hon. Suleiman A. Kawu (SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters – House of Representatives)
The new Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Ali was military administrator of Kaduna State from 1996 to 1998 under the despotic regime of the late General Sani Abacha.
Reacting to the cold-blooded murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni indigenes, Col. Ali said he had no regrets over his role in the judicial process that led to Saro Wiwa’s execution.
The Abacha regime setup a special tribunal headed Justice Ibrahim Auta along with the Kaduna-based prosecutor—Joseph Bodunrin Daudu after falsely accusing Saro-Wiwa of orchestrating the death of four Ogoni elders. After prolonged detention, abuse, torture and intimidation of Mr. Wiwa’s counsels by the Abacha regime, the panel sentenced Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni activists to death by hanging for a crime they never committed.
Saro-Wiwa was defended by the late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN and Femi Falana, SAN. The late environmental activist and lawyer, Oronto Douglas, the youngest lawyer on the team, was also on the defense team. Fawehinmi and his team were denied entry into the venue of the tribunal’s proceedings and denied the rights to confer with the defendants. Auta denied all motions/application for continuances in a case involving capital offenses.
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The Abacha regime swiftly ratified the tribunal’s verdict and thereafter murdered Saro-Wiwa and the eight activists before the period allowed for an appeal had elapsed. This happened in defiance of calls by the international community, particularly groups like Amnesty International for their lives to be spared.
To add further pain to the families of the executed men, their bodies were subsequently dissolved in sulphuric acid by the Abacha regime.
The execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and four other Ogoni elders, led to Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations, which lasted for over three years. Shell Petroleum Development Company (SDPC) later paid out $15.5 million as compensation over its role in collaborating with the Abacha government in human rights violations in the deaths of Saro-Wiwa and his kinsmen.
Shell has not recovered from the severe public relations backlash from its role in the murder of the Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was a a popular author, playwright, and television producer and one of the most determined and articulate critics of the oil majors and advocates for environmental and economic justice for the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta.
Buhari served in the Abacha government as de factor petroleum minister in the role of Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). Abacha’s despotic regime was also one of the most corrupt occasioned by brazen looting of the treasury. Abacha has been accused of looting over N100 Billion from Nigeria’s treasury.
Close to a billion dollars looted by Abachi and his cronies have been returned to Nigeria from foreign accounts around the world. Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been credited with “silently” working to recover the stolen funds by the Abacha regime.
Hamid Ali, is Buhari’s newly appointed head of Customs is 60 years old.
Additional reporting by Breaking Times.