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Son of Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa dead

SUDDEN DEATH: Ken Saro Wiwa Jr

THE SON of executed Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa passed away yesterday (Oct 18) after suffering a stroke, his family have confirmed.

Ken Saro Wiwa Jr, 47, died ‘suddenly’ in London according to Noo Saro-Wiwa, sister of the late journalist.

She told the BBC: "It is with great sadness that we announce that Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr passed away suddenly. His family are devastated and request privacy at this difficult time."

Funeral arrangements are yet to be worked out, the family said.

Saro Wiwa Jr was an accomplished journalist and served as advisor to three Nigerian presidents during his life.

He was first appointed in 2006 as a special adviser on peace and conflict resolution by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He later served Obasanjo's successor, President Umaru Yar'Adua, as an adviser on international affairs and stayed on under President Goodluck Jonathan until he lost last year's election.

As the son of a renowned environmental activist, the 47-year-old revisited his father’s legacy when he penned an opinion piece for The Guardian last year to criticise the degradation of the southeast region of Nigeria known as Ogoniland.

FATHER AND SON: With his father Ken Saro Wiwa as a child

He wrote: "If my father were alive today he would be dismayed that Ogoniland still looks like the devastated region that spurred him to action.

"There is little evidence to show that it sits on one of the world's richest deposits of oil and gas."

Leading the way with tributes was Goodluck Jonathan, the last Nigerian president he served under.

Writing on Facebook, Jonathan said: “A bright star has been prematurely plucked from the Nigerian firmament. Ken Wiwa, like his father, Ken Saro Wiwa, was a patriot. My prayers are with the family he left behind. Adieu great son of Nigeria."

Saro Wiwa Senior was executed alongside eight activist in 1995 by a military government for leading protests against environmental degradation caused by the oil industry.

His murder carried out under General Sani Abacha sparked global condemnation and resulted in Nigeria being suspended from the Commonwealth.

A 2011 UN report said Nigeria's Ogoniland region could take 30 years to recover fully from the damage caused by years of oil spills.

It added that communities faced a severe health risk, with some families drinking water with high levels of carcinogens.

Shell has accepted liability for two spills and said all oil spills were bad for Nigeria and the company.

The administration of current Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, announced a $1 billion clean-up operation of the region in June.

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