By Innocent Anaba
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Wednesday commended the Federal Government for ordering the release of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) leader, Mr. Henry Okah,
It said the gesture will send the right signal to the militants on the seriousness of the government in exploring means of negotiated settlement of the crisis in the region.
Meanwhile, the association has condemned the recent attack on Atlas Cove Jetty in Lagos, noting that the incident was regrettable.
NBA President, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), in a statement Wednesday said, â€œwe received the news of the release of Mr. Henry Okah, one of the accredited leaders of MENDS, with great relief.
“The Bar joins other Nigerians to congratulate the Federal Government onÂ taking this bold step towards the resolution of the perennial Niger Delta crisis which has defied realistic solutions.
“The release of Mr. Okah, we expect, will send the right signal to the militants on the seriousness of the government in exploring means of negotiated settlement,â€ it stressed.
It said, â€œon the other hand, the Bar wishes to condemn the latest attack carried out by this organisation on the Atlas Cove Jetty in Lagos.
“This unfortunate attack, however, strategic it may seem in the estimation of those who have claimed responsibility for it, has the potential of setting in motion a spiral effect considering the location and extent of damage.
“While reasonable Nigerians appreciate the enormity of the problems confronting the region, the expansionist dimension to the scope of operation strongly portends future untoward occurrences.
“It may progressively alienate those who harbour genuine empathy for the plight of the violated people of the Niger Delta.
â€œWe advise the government to take a holistic view of the problems of the area, especially that of gross under-development, and come up with a master plan which will address the challenges realistically.
“The government should, without delay, initiate meaningful negotiations with the genuine agitators and other stakeholders in the region.
“The jamboree aspect of the amnesty programme should be jettisoned for a more serious programme of reintegration of the youths estranged by the insensitive posture of successive governments.
â€œMEND on its part should embrace this new gesture from the government and suspend all hostilities for a serious dialogue to take place,” the lawyer association added.
“It must seize this opportunity and ensure that opportunistic elements do not hijack the process of negotiations. Once again, we congratulate the government on dropping charges against Mr. Okah and hopes that this move will engender the process which will culminate in arriving at the final solution to the problems of the region,â€ NBA added.