By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin-City
Ten years after she was murdered by unknown assassins in Benin-City, Edo State capital, 60-year-old Mrs Theresa Noghayin Ofehe, mother of the Netherlands-based Niger Delta activist, Comrade Sunny Ofehe, will be buried in Benin City on Saturday. Suspected assassins on motorcycle stormed the home of the human and environmental activist on October 4, 2007 and strangled his mother. Mrs. Ofehe’s lifeless body was discovered hours later.
Comrade Ofehe, who is the Executive Director of the Hope for Niger Delta Campaign (HNDC), fled Nigeria in 1995 during the repressive military rule of the late Gen. Sani Abacha and applied for political asylum in The Netherlands. Explaining why it took the family ten years to organize the funeral of their mother, Ofehe said: “After the heinous murder of my mother, it took time for me to recover from the shock. In 2011 I was prepared to bury her when the Dutch police raided my house four days to the funeral and arrested me on trumped up charges. The arrest and protracted legal case that followed delayed the funeral.
“And what did I do to them? Nothing. I testified at the Dutch parliament against the activities of Shell International in the Niger Delta. All I had done was that I openly criticized the degrading environmental conditions of the region resulting from crude oil exploitation by the multinational companies, most especially the role of Shell whose headquarters is in The Hague. I returned last year to do the funeral, but officials of the DSS arrested me and locked me up at their Ikoyi office. It took the intervention of senior DSS officials to secure my release”.
Meanwhile, the activist has continued to blame the Nigeria government for the death of his mother, saying: “For as long as the Nigerian government refused to investigate and prosecute those behind this satanic act, I will continue to hold it responsible for the death of my mother.” It was alleged in many quarters that the killing of the activist’s mother may not be unconnected with his criticism of the policies of oil companies and the impoverishment of the people of the Niger Delta. In 2014, the activist was kidnapped with fiour Dutch nationals in Letugbene, Bayelsa State during a humanitarian visit.
“The visit was meant to give support to the cottage hospital serving twelve communities in the creeks of the oil rich state. Recently, he presented the case of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta at the 9th Session of the UN Conference on Minority Issues in Geneva, Switzerland. When asked what is his current task, the activist said: “I am making contacts with the EU Parliament to provide a platform for the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki to meet with the newly elected EU Parliament President Mr. Antonio Tajani of Italy. My aim is to ensure that the Senate President’s commitment on the PIB and Climate Change agreement gains international accomplishment”.