By Daniel Idonor
THE Presidential Committee on Amnesty and Disarmament has re-iterated that there is no condition attached to the release of the leader of Movement for the
Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah.
According to Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, the Media Coordinator of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty and Disarmament, Okah, who is on trial in Jos,
Plateau State, will be freed after diplomatic formalities had been concluded with the presidents of Angola and Equatorial Guinea.
The clarification followed the statement credited to MEND and the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), an umbrella body for militants in the Niger Delta
region, that the release of Okah should have been unconditional.
In a mail sent to the media by Gbomo Jomo, the group had insisted that if the proclamation was directed at freedom fighters with a cause, it would have
addressed the root issues such as the genuine unconditional release of Okah and others.
Other issues that should have been addressed by the Federal Government, according to MEND, include true federalism, federal character in political
appointments, investigations of JTF extra-judicial killings, a troop withdrawal time-table, displaced civilians, reconstruction of their sacked villages and
In a quick reaction, however, Agary said: â€œthe Federal Government has through the amnesty offer demonstrated good faith in refusing to criminalise militants
through derogatory terms.
â€œMilitants and the Niger Delta youths know what is good for them and their communities and I believe they will make the right decisions for themselves and
the progress and development of the Niger Delta and Nigeria.
â€œI wish to state that the offer of amnesty is unconditional and covers Okah who will be released as soon as the government concludes its consultations with
the governments of Angola and Equatorial Guinea. This is also in the best interest of Okah.”
â€œMr. President has offered an olive branch which should be accepted to restore peace and development in the region which is of great concern to the militants and for which real steps are being taking by the Government. The Amnesty offer affords them the freedom and opportunity to engage in the dialogue that President Yarâ€™Adua has promoted since he assumed office.
â€œI think aside the amnesty proclamation by Mr. President the fact that he is willing to personally receive any militants that surrenders demonstrates how willing and sincere the President is in ending this crisis.â€