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24 abducted Filipinos freed

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE on 2007/02/14 | Views: 406 |

24 abducted Filipinos freed

The 24 Filipino hostages kidnapped more than three weeks ago by Niger Delta insurgents have been freed, a spokesman for Baco-Liner, their employer, said Tuesday.

• As David-West blasts Information Minister on accusation against CNN

The 24 Filipino hostages kidnapped more than three weeks ago by Niger Delta insurgents have been freed, a spokesman for Baco-Liner, their employer, said Tuesday.

According to the spokesman, all the men are in good health and were headed for Warri in Delta State, their original destination before being abducted from a Baco-Liner cargo ship on January 20.
The men were released a day after Information Minister Frank Nweke Jr. accused CNN of paying for and staging a report that showed the hostages being held by masked gunmen in a remote mangrove swamp.

"We have evidence that some of these people were actually paid to put up a show," Nweke Jr. told CNN International about last week's report by Jeff Koinange, CNN's Africa correspondent. "It was a paid job, and that's exactly why we are very upset about it," he said, without offering evidence.

"He had actually approached other people before then to do the same thing and his offer was declined. And he shopped around for more people and found those criminals who were willing to play ball with him and they put on the kind of show that they put up and which was shown around the world," the minister alleged.

CNN and Koinange flatly denied the charge. In a written statement, CNN said it did not pay for any part of the report, nor does the network pay for interviews.
The report showed the hostages, held captive since their cargo ship was seized January 20, seated on white plastic chairs, lined up in a row.

As dozens of militants, dressed in black and wearing black ski masks, danced and fired automatic weapons into the air, the hostages appeared immobilized by fear. "The government is trying to get them released," Nweke said. "But to make a show out of it in the way that your reporter did is unacceptable and, to our minds, undermines global efforts on the war on terror," the minister had complained to CNN.
Nweke said he and his entourage had recently traveled through the Niger Delta and had seen projects intended to help the area's residents, such as health clinics and the construction of bridges, but witnessed none of the scenes shown in the report.

"You can imagine my surprise when I saw the kind of pictures that were put out on CNN portraying the situation of war and crisis in the Niger Delta," he said. "There was absolutely no correlation whatsoever with what we had on the ground and what CNN International put out there."
But ex-Oil Minister, Prof. Tam David-West, asked the Information Minister to bury his head in shame for alleging that the American-based global television network, stage- managed the clips.
David-West noted that the release of the hostages by MEND on humanitarian grounds Tuesday had vindicated the CNN and confirmed the report as authentic.
The former minister said Nweke’s dubbing of the militants as criminals was, therefore, unhelpful to moves at achieving peace in the region.

Said he: "The minister should shut up. What he has done is a great disservice to the government and the negotiation process. What will CNN gain in putting up such a story? Accusing the independent media is a great disservice to the reconciliation process. It has set negotiations several steps back. What I expected him to say instead is that, yes, we have seen this, the Federal Government appreciates it and we’ll build on that for more peace. Instead, you are mocking them."

David-West said by his flippant utterance, the minister had shown that he was unqualified for the office he occupied which required tact and utmost discretion.
"Let him know that 85 per cent of his salary is paid from oil produced by the Niger Delta which he sought to ridicule," the professor of Virology stated.

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Comments (13)

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