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Militants accept amnesty, demand Okah’s release

But in a swift reply to the plea, retired Major General Godwin Abbe, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty and Disarmament, said Okah…

But in a swift reply to the plea, retired Major General Godwin Abbe, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty and Disarmament, said Okah will remain in prison custody in spite of the amnesty offer to militants by the Federal Government.

He made this known yesterday to State House Correspondents.

Okah was arrested by the Angolan government last year on charges of gun-running, but transferred to Nigeria for the continuation of his trial.

Abbe, however, said  President Umaru Yar’Adua will brief his Angolan counterpart on the details of the Federal Government’s amnesty offer with a view to make Okah benefit from it.

The militants standing proxy for Comrades Ateke Tom, Farah Dagogo, Soboma George and Ebikabowei Victor Ben (aka Boyloaf), sought the release of Okah who is standing trial for treason.

 “Mr Henry Okah , the leader of MEND and also one of the leaders of the Niger Delta struggle presently in the custody of the Federal Government should be released so that he can mobilise his group and inspire them to effectively partake in this quest for peace in the Niger Delta”, the group said.

Comrade Innocent Iboroma, spokesman of the group, said they also sought to have audience with President Yar’adua, “so as to brief him first hand” and reach a consensus with him.

According to them, the outcome of such a meeting will determine the announcement of when they will be handing over their weapons. They also chose to have Mr Rochas Okorocha, millionaire philanthropist, as their pointsman in all dialogue and contacts with the presidency.

During the press briefing held at Aldgate Hotel in GRA, Port Harcourt, the militants acknowledged the amnesty proclamation as an offer of peace, saying they are not criminals but freedom fighters who have over the year given their time, energy, liberty and lives to ensure that Niger delta people receive fair treatment from oil companies and the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

Meanwhile, MEND’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said in retaliation to a punitive action by the JTF on the oil bearing community of Agbeti in Delta State, the very day that President Yar’adua proclaimed amnesty, it has attacked a Shell offshore facility in Afremo.