THE leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, has warned that the Federal Government is putting the ongoing peace process in the Niger Delta region at risk with its letter to the South African government, which borders on his conviction.
In a goodwill message to a meeting of the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) held over the weekend, Okah, who is under incarceration in South Africa, stated that “the Niger Delta region and the daunting challenges we face are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.”
He lauded the efforts of the Clark-led PNDF towards restoring peace in the Niger Delta, saying, “I am particularly proud of the sterling efforts of Chief (Dr) Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and the entire PANDEF membership and secretariat, whose patriotic activities are geared towards addressing the root issues and causes that led MEND in 2005 to pick up the gauntlet left behind by our predecessors in the struggle for equal rights and justice, environmental remediation and resource control, among others, in the Niger Delta.”
He noted: ““Talking about the peace process, I wish to report to the leadership of PANDEF the vexed issue of a letter written by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to the South African Government regarding the recent affirmation of my conviction by the South African Supreme Court (the equivalent of our own Court of Appeal). I believe the letter was hasty and prejudicial to the ongoing Niger Delta peace process and equally prejudicial to my determined quest to appeal to the South African Constitutional Court (the equivalent of our own Supreme Court). Furthermore, the letter was also prejudicial to the ongoing trials of my brother, Charles, Obi Nwabueze and others in Nigeria; these are judicial matters which I believe, are trumped up charges.”
Okah, who appealed to Niger Delta militants to be patient with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration said, “I believe the President is committed to reversing the losses engendered by the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan.”
Okah also lamented what he called the lopsided and non-inclusive nature of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, alleging that it excluded some interest groups in the Niger Delta region.