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"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 marginalisation and economic strangulation, angered by the devastation of their land, anxious to preserve their right to life and to a decent living, and determined to usher to this country as a whole a fair and just democratic system, 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. Nor 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 is on trial here, and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The company has, indeed, ducked this particlular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learned 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 be duly punished. The crime of the company's dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.
On trial also is the Nigerian nation, its present rulers and all those who assist them. I am not one of those who shy away from protesting injustice and oppression, arguing that they are expected of a military regime. The military do not act alone. They are supported by a gaggle of politicians, lawyers, judges, academics and businessmen, all of them hiding under the claim that they are only doing their duty, men and women too afraid to wash their pants of their urine.
We all stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have denigrated our country and jeopardised the future of our children. As we subscribe to the subnormal and accept double standards, as we lie and cheat openly, as we protect injustice and oppression, we empty our classrooms, degrade our hospitals, and make ourselves the slaves of those who subscribe to higher standards, who pursue the truth, and honour justice, freedom and hard work...
I predict that a denoument of the riddle of the Niger delta will soon come. The agenda is being set at this trial. Whether the peaceful ways I have favoured will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides, what signals it sends out to the waiting public.
In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History is on their side, God is on their side.
For the Holy Quran says in Sura 42, verse 41: 'All those who fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor.'
Come the day."
--Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa