- Last Updated on 04 April 2013
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The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) on Wednesday declared its readiness to avenge the imprisonment of its leader, Henry Okah by a South African court by resuming attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region of the country.
Okah was handed a 24-year jail term for his involvement in two explosions in Nigeria — one in Delta State and the other close to the Eagle Square, Abuja — during the country’s 2010 Independence Day celebrations.
In a statement obtained by Huhuonline.com, MEND spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo warned the country to be prepared for the group’s attacks, which will begin from Friday, 5th April 2013, due in part to the existence of a fake letter forged by the Nigerian and South African governments to indict Henry Okah in court on the pretext that the letter was issued by MEND
The email also contained MEND’s threats to ensure a plague of attacks that will be sustained until an unreserved apology is offered to MEND and the Nigerian government shows their willingness to dialogue.
“With effect from 00:00Hrs, Friday 05, April 2013, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) will commence with a plague of sustained attacks codenamed ‘Hurricane Exodus,’” a part of the statement read.
“’Hurricane Exodus’ is a direct repercussion of a forged threat letter contrived by the Nigerian and South African governments purporting to have originated from MEND. This fake letter was used as evidence against Henry Okah for which a thirteen (13) years sentence was passed.”
MEND also accused one of the prosecution’s second witnesses and a member of the Amnesty Implementation Committee of exclaiming in court over the purported lack of genuineness of the letter,
“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,” it added.
“The attacks will be sustained until an unreserved apology is offered to MEND and the Nigerian government shows their willingness to dialogue, the same way they are willing to dialogue with Boko Haram.”
But reacting to the development, authorities of the Joint Military Task Force, codenamed Operation Pulo Shield claimed to be aware of a statement by “some persons parading themselves as MEND” but urged calm, saying the people of the region are not in any bondage and therefore do not require armed struggle or emancipation.
“What Niger Deltans are in a 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 is advised to tow 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.”
Okah's road to jail in South Africa began in 2011, a year after he was arrested for the bomb attacks, which the court saw as terrorism. He was found guilty of 13 counts of terrorism in one of the incidents that killed 12 people on October 1, 2010.
The 24-year jail term also included 12 years each for the two attacks and another 10 years for being a threat to South Africa, but they all run concurrently. Okah’s family has vowed, however, to appeal the judgement.