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Militants free kidnapped oil workers

Posted by By CHRIS IKWUNZE on 2006/06/09 | Views: 634 |

Militants free kidnapped oil workers

The five South Korean oil workers held hostage by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) were yesterday freed by their captors.

The five South Korean oil workers held hostage by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) were yesterday freed by their captors.

MEND, in a statement, hinged the surprise gesture on an appeal by detained militia leader, Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, whose freedom the group had intended to trade for the Koreans’.
The hostages, who worked for the Korean firms – Daewoo and Korea Gas Corp, were kidnapped on Wednesday by the militants, seeking the release of Asari-Dokubo, who has been standing a treason trial in Abuja since his arrest last September.
They were released at exactly 4.00p.m. and handed over to Senator David Brigidi.

The circumstances under which MEND received Asari-Dokubo’s plea was not clear by press time but the militia in the statement disclosed that its action was in response to the detained leader’s appeal, whereby the captives were released “unconditionally.”

Shortly after their release, the freed men were brought to the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt at 6.06p.m. in a government owned bus, marked RVGH 496.
They were received by a party including the state’s Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Odein Ajumogobia, and Manager Human Resources, Daewoo Nigerian Limited, Mr Kingsley Wuche.
Ajumogobia assured that government would continue to protect them and urged them to see the incident as part of their experiences in life.

The commissioner said it was not in the character of their host community not to be hospitable, noting that it was the first time such a thing would happen in the state.
He thanked the team who helped in securing the hostages’ release.
Wuche also thanked the government for securing the men’s freedom. He gave assurance that the foreigners would not on account of the incident abandon the country, reiterating the firm’s belief in government to safeguard lives and property.

Speaking on the occasion, one of the freed expatriates, S. D. Kim, said they were kindly treated during their brief incarceration, saying that he did not plan to leave Nigeria, despite the experience.
Meanwhile, the Probity and Ethics Society a non-governmental organisation has condemned the recent kidnapping by MEND, believed to comprise Ijaw youths.

According to the President of the association, Olufemi Aduwo, the action of the Ijaw youths is becoming intolerable, noting that they were not the only tribe in the Niger Delta facing exploitation.
He said the Urhobos, Itsekiris and the Ilajes are facing the same problem but they have refused to join the Ijaws in their new found hostage-for-money racket, adding that no government should succumb to their irrational demands.

“The Obasanjo government has done a lot to improve the living standard of the people of the core Niger Delta. Recently he announced that his government will spend N200 trillion on the core Niger Delta states and he has also directed the armed forces as well as NNPC to employ our people,” he said.
According to Aduwo, rather than taking oil workers hostage, the anger of the youths should be directed at those who killed the proposed constitution amendment where the fiscal and revenue derivation would have been discussed.

He said that his organisation planned to march against the trend.
Referring to the latest kidnapping, Army spokesman, Colonel Mohammed Yusuf said: “The militants tried to capitalise on the soft treatment we have been giving them. We are not at war with fellow citizens. They are capitalising on this to embarrass the military,” adding the militants were now forcing the Army to be tough.

“We are going to make sure that such a thing does not repeat itself again,” he stressed.

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