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FG shielding powerful arms dealers in N’Delta – Okah

Posted by By Chux Ohai on 2008/10/11 | Views: 2023 |

FG shielding powerful arms dealers in N’Delta – Okah

The detained leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Mr. Henry Okah, has said that the Federal Government is unwilling to prosecute the powerful retired generals behind gunrunning in the Niger Delta.

The detained leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Mr. Henry Okah, has said that the Federal Government is unwilling to prosecute the powerful retired generals behind gunrunning in the Niger Delta.

Okah, who is being tried by the Federal High Court, Jos, Plateau State on a 62-count charge of treason, terrorism, kidnapping, incitement of soldiers to commit traitorous acts and gunrunning, made the allegation in a 13-point memorandum submitted through his lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, to the Niger Delta Technical Committee. In the document dated October 6, 2008 and titled, “Memorandum on the illegal deportation of Henry Okah from Angola and the treason charge filed against him by the Federal Government,” the MEND leader also gave an account of his contact with both President Musa Yar’Adua and Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.

The four-page letter, which was signed by Falana and addressed to the NDTC’s secretary, said the crux of the 62-count charge against Okah was the allegation that he “received assorted firearms and several crates of ammunition from certain military officers and distributed them to the Niger Delta militant groups between 2003 and 2007. Curiously, the military officers who allegedly removed the said arms and ammunition from the armoury and purportedly handed them over to our client have not been charged with treason or treasonable felony in the Federal High Court.”

The lawyer, who said the media had exposed the brains behind the smuggling or arms into the region, attached articles from two newspapers and other documents in support of the claims. He said that “some army generals were recently retired for smuggling arms and ammunition to the Niger Delta,” adding that the Nigeria Police had also been implicated in the illegal importation of arms into the region by the Shell Petroleum Development Company.

The letter also recalled that the House of Representatives had “resolved to investigate the alleged importation of arms and ammunition to the Niger Delta by Niger Dock” and recommended the prosecution of “the powerful individuals and corporate bodies indicted in the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the Niger Delta.”

Okah’s lawyer traced the origin of his ordeal to July 2007 when President Umaru Yar’Adua discussed with him and sought his support for the restoration of peace in the region. He said he assured the President of his cooperation on the condition that the under-development in the area would be genuinely addressed by the Federal Government, adding that this led to a meeting with Vice-President Jonathan in Pretoria, South Africa on August 4, 2007.

He said the meeting with Jonathan resolved to “establish a Niger Delta Peace Committee charged with the responsibility of persuading the militants to lay down their arms. Although our client declined the request to head the committee, the two persons nominated by him were made its chair and secretary. It may interest your committee to know that the Federal Government did not accuse our client of having committed any offence when President Yar’Adua and Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan held discussions with him in July and August 2007.”

He stated that as a demonstration of good faith, MEND and other militant groups declared a unilateral ceasefire but before the peace committee could begin work, the Federal Government had instigated the arrest of Okah and his friend, Edward Atatah, in Luanda, Angola on September 3, 2007.

Although the Angolan government found nothing against them, after five-month detention, the Nigerian authorities frustrated their release, he alleged, adding that they were subsequently deported to Nigeria on February 14, 2008 and railroaded into military custody.

He also said they were incarcerated without trial for about 50 days, contrary to Yar’Adua’s rule of law policy and, eventually, Atatah was discharged by the trial judge in a desperate bid to turn him into a prosecution witness. The letter also said that Atatah was held for two months for refusing to testify against Okah, adding that a welder, Mr. Bassey Umoren, was arrested in Agbara, Ogun State on March 5, 2008 on the ground that he once fixed a vehicle for Okah.

The letter said, “Mr. Umoren has been told that he will only regain his liberty if he agrees to testify against Mr. Okah in the secret trial. The order of the Federal High Court that our client be remanded in the custody of the State Security Service has been treated with disdain by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, which has continued to hold him.”

Falana urged the NDTC to go beyond the “mere collation of reports” and make a “strong case” for Okah’s unconditional release to afford him the opportunity to assist the committee in the restoration of law and order in the Niger Delta.

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.