Thursday, July 16, 2009

Okah released but MEND fights on

On Monday, July 13th, Nigeria released Henry Okah, leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), from prison. Although the release of Okah was applauded by the Nigerian Bar Association, neither Okah nor the other MEND activists appear to be willing to forego sabotage, extortion, and murder for legal avenues in resolving conflicts in the Niger Delta.

MEND blew up the Atlas Cove Jetty near the city of Lagos on Sunday, July 12th. That action was initially dismissed as an "operational accident" by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which may explain Okah's release the following day. The fires and explosions which resulted from MEND's sabotage of the Atlas Cove Jetty claimed five lives. Oil company workers and security personnel were also killed or injured during previous MEND actions, such as the June 6th sabotage of Chevron's facility offshore.

MEND has announced a 60 day "ceasefire" since Sunday's attack, but members have yet to surrender weapons and renounce militancy as requested by President Yar'Adua when he declared an unconditional pardon on June 25th.

Available Resources on the Internet:

- Solomon Sydelle posts about the Atlas Cove Jetty attack at Nigerian Curiosity.

- UPI story about the latest MEND attacks.

- allAfrica story about the MEND attacks on Chevron's offshore operations.

- The News has a brief biography of Henry Okah along with other activists in the Niger Delta.

- a longer biography of Henry Okah from I C publications.

- Bourse has a story on MEND's 60-day ceasefire.

- N.I.M.M.O. has a comical blog post about the amnesty offer from Yar'Adua.

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