MOVEMENT for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has said it has entered into a deal with the Federal Government to ensure the release of Henry Okah, the assumed guerrilla leader of the group.
The group, in a statement issued on Saturday, by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, also said the ongoing negotiation with the government had led to some other concessions and the release of some other notable detainees, including the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu, Charles Okah and Obi Nwabueze.
Jomo Gbomo, however, claimed that MEND was the only militant group from the Niger Delta region currently engaged in the dialogue with the government on how to resolve the lingering crisis in the region.
He noted that MEND was on the dialogue table with the government through oil companies and security agencies, adding that the deliberations had, thus far, been fruitful.
“Various concessions and guarantees have already been secured; some of which include, but are not limited to, release of Henry Okah, Charles Okah and Obi Nwabueze;
“Review of the life sentence handed to Mr Edmund Ebiware, based on a proposal put forward by the Aaron Team representative for Abia and Imo states, Senator Adolphus Wabara, conditional release of IPOB Leader, Mr Nnamdi Kanu and others, if they renounced their agitation for a “Biafra Republic”;
“That Mr Government Ekpemupolo shall not be arrested, harassed and/or intimidated whenever he makes himself available as a delegate of the MEND Aaron Team 2.
“That international arbitrator and conflict negotiator, American Dr Judith Asuni (sic) shall be accepted as the representative of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) on the MEND Aaron Team; that the criminal charges against Urhobo freedom fighter, Mr Kelvin Prosper Oniarah shall be reviewed;
“That the life sentence, which was handed to seven soldiers in 2008 who actively supported the Niger Delta struggle be reviewed under the Presidential Amnesty Programme,” Jomo Gbomo said in the statement.
He went on to list the seven affected soldiers to include Major Suleiman Akubo; Sergeant Mathias Peter; Lance Corporal Alexander Nwaigwe; Lance Corporal Nnandi Anene; Lance Corporal Taatihi Emmanuel; and Private Caleb Bawa.
“However, one of the most immediate and urgent fall-outs of the ongoing dialogue is the imperative for the Federal Government and MEND to jointly and separately take proactive steps to rescue and secure the region in the event that the recalcitrant Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) continue on their senseless and politically-motivated path of attacks on the country’s oil assets.
“To this end, both parties agreed that the Special Forces of the Nigerian Army should commence the purely routine but strategic military exercise code-named “Operation Crocodile Tears”, while MEND would commence a ‘meet-the government-actors-and-people tour’ of the Niger Delta region, code-named “Operation Moses.”