Thursday, 4 April 2013

Okah: MEND threatens to resume attacks on Friday

The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta on Wednesday announced that it would on Friday (tomorrow) resume hostilities in the country.
In an e-mail sent to journalists, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, MEND’s spokesman, Gbomo Jomo, said a series of attacks, codenamed Hurricane Exodus, would begin at midnight on Friday.
It said the attacks would be “a direct repercussion of a forged threat letter contrived by the Nigerian and South African governments purporting to have originated from MEND”.
But government security agencies on Wednesday said they were prepared to checkmate the militant group.
Director of Information at the Defence Headquarters, Brig Gen. Chris Olukolade, warned those behind the threat to avoid any action that could endanger the peace in the area.
He said that the DHQ had its operatives on the ground and are prepared at all times to defend the interest of the country.

Olukolade warned MEND against reversing the hand of peace in the Niger Delta.
He said, “The DHQ has our outfit on the ground in the Niger Delta. Our structures are on ground in the area. They should not reverse the hand of peace; nobody should threaten the peace in the area.
“The JTF is on the ground and is prepared to do their duties in defence of every interest of the nation. Anybody trying to threaten the peace in the area is advised against it.”
 The police said they would bring to book anyone that engaged in any act that contravened the law of the land, stressing that it would not condone acts of lawlessness in any part of the country.
Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, who said the police would not be drawn into responding to threats issued by criminal elements, noted that the Nigeria Police were ready to deal with any acts of brigandage.
“The police will not respond to threats by criminal elements, but suffice it to say we are ready to curb any acts of lawlessness or criminality in the country,” he said.
The statement read, “This fake letter was used as evidence against Henry Okah on whom a 13- year sentence was passed. To make matters worse, the prosecution’s second witness, Mr. Sele Victor-Ben, had exclaimed in court that the letter was not genuine after failing to catch the prosecutor’s eye who wanted him to lie under oath.
“We are now determined to conjure this imaginary trumped-up threat into a painful reality.
“The attacks will be sustained until an unreserved apology is offered to MEND and the Nigerian government shows its willingness to dialogue. The same way they are willing to dialogue with Boko Haram.”
A former leader of MEND, Henry Okah was on March 26 sentenced to 24 years imprisonment by a South African court which found him guilty of the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja and another one in Warri, Delta State. He was also sentenced for threatening South African government officials after his arrest in South Africa in 2010.
MEND had been the main militant group behind attacks on oil installations and foreign workers in the restive Niger Delta before the Federal Government under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua granted amnesty to the fighters who surrendered their arms.
At the peak of MEND’s hostilities in the Niger Delta, home to the country’s vast oil wealth, oil production dipped significantly. Between 2006 and 2009, Nigeria’s oil output was cut by a quarter due to MEND activities.
The violence in the region reduced considerably after thousands of fighters in the different militia groups disarmed under the government’s amnesty programme. Most of the ex-militants are currently receiving various vocational trainining under the post-amnesty rehabilitation package.
Okah was one of the few militants who rejected the government’s amnesty programme which they said they distrusted.
Reacting to the threat on Wedneday, the Joint Task Force, the military outfit in charge of security in the region, asked the persons “parading themselves as MEND” to embrace the reigning peace in the region.
The JTF, in a statement by its Media Coordinator, Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said it would not allow any aggrieved group to upset the peace in the region, saying it had positioned its troops in strategic places and put them on the alert to tackle possible upheaval.
It said, “Niger Deltans are not in any bondage and therefore do not require armed struggle or emancipation as claimed by this threatening gang.
“What Niger Deltans are in dire need of now is peace for sustainable development, having emerged from the dark days of turbulence in the region.
“Informed by this development we have effected some redeployment to tackle any upheaval. This set of people are advised to toe the path of law and order in addressing whatever grievance they have and to desist from any action that will upset the peace and development of the Niger Delta.
“The good and peace-loving people of the Niger Delta are enjoined to dissociate themselves, their communities and leadership from this unwholesome approach as portrayed by this group.”