Justice Ibrahim Auta, the judge who was handpicked by the Abacha regime to head the kangaroo tribunal that sentenced renowned environmentalists and minority rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa to death by hanging, today became the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
Auta takes over from retired justice Dan Abutu, the judge who oversaw the judicial mess that almost crippled Nigeria during the prolonged absence of late Nigerian leader Umaru Yar'Adua.
The Abacha regime set up the Auta Tribunal after it falsely accused Saro-Wiwa of orchestrating the death of four Ogoni elders. After prolonged abuse, torture and intimidation of Mr. Wiwa's counsel by the Abacha regime, Justice Auta pronounced Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni activists guilty of a crime they never committed and sentenced them to death by hanging.
The Abacha regime swiftly ratified Auta’s verdict and thereafter murdered Saro-Wiwa and the eight activists before the period allowed for an appeal had elapsed.
Coincidentally, the current president of the Nigeria Bar Association, Joseph Bodunrin Daudu (SAN), acted as the government prosecutor to the Abacha regime against Mr. Wiwa.
Justice Auta’s appointment is to be ratified by the Senate. He will then be sworn in by Jonathan Goodluck, who also hails from the Niger Delta region.
For some reason, Jonathan doesn't seem to take much historical notice of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Last year, for instance, he ignored the Saro-Wiwa anniversary.
It is also of significance that the Nigerian Senate shot down a motion sponsored by Senator Lee Maeba which aimed to immortalize the late activists. Mr. Maeba’s motion was rejected and his attempt to call for a minute of silence to honor Mr. Saro-Wiwa was angrily shot down by the senate president, David Mark.
See Video clips of the Auta Tribunal Trial below: