Kanu, Okah brothers to regain freedom as FG, MEND strike deal to end Niger Delta crisis
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said on Saturday that it had reached an agreement with the Federal Government for the conditional release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, and former MEND leader, Henry Okah.
The militant group in the Niger Delta disclosed that the Federal Government also agreed that Okah's younger brother, Charles, and Obi Nwabueze would be granted conditional freedom.
MEND in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, said the agreement was reached after the Aaron Team representatives from Abia and Imo States, Senator Adolphus Wabara, made a proposal for their freedom.
The condition given by the Federal Government was that Kanu and his cohorts would renounce the agitation for the Republic of Biafra.
The statement read, 'Thus far, the deliberations have been fruitful. Various concessions and guarantees have already been secured; some of which include, but are not limited to: release of Henry Okah, Charles Okah, and Obi Nwabueze, review of the life sentence handed to Mr. Edmund Ebiware based on a proposal put forward by the Aaron Team representative for Abia and Imo states, Senator Adolphus Wabara, conditional release of IPOB Leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and others if they renounce their agitation for a 'Biafra Republic.'
'That Mr. Government Ekpemupolo shall not be arrested, harassed and/or intimidated whenever he makes himself available as a delegate of the MEND Aaron Team 2; that international arbitrator and conflict negotiator, American Dr. Judith Asuni, shall be accepted as the representative of the Niger Delta Avengers on the MEND Aaron Team.
'That the criminal charges against Urhobo freedom fighter, Mr. Kelvin Prosper Oniarah, shall be reviewed; that the life sentence, which was handed to seven soldiers in 2008, who actively supported the Niger Delta struggle be reviewed under the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
'The affected persons are: Major Suleiman Akubo; Sgt Mathias Peter; L.Cpl Alexander Davou; L.Cpl Moses Nwaigwe, L.Cpl Nnandi Anene; L.Cpl Taatihi Emmanuel; and Caleb Bawa.'
The militant group noted that one of the most immediate fallouts of the ongoing dialogue was that the Federal Government and MEND should jointly and separately take proactive steps to rescue and secure the region in the event that the Niger Delta Avengers continued with their 'senseless and politically-motivated' path of attacks on the country's oil assets.
MEND added, 'To this end, both parties agreed that the Special Forces of the Nigerian Army should commence the purely routine, but strategic military exercise code-named 'Operation Crocodile Tears' while MEND would commence a meet-the-Government-Actors-and-People tour of the Niger Delta region code-named 'Operation Moses.''
Meanwhile, the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said that all issues relating to negotiation were political and being handled by the political leadership of the country.
He stated however that any step that would bring peace to the area was welcome.
He stressed that the military would continue to maintain its presence not only in the Niger Delta but also in other threatened spots in the country.
He said, 'The ongoing negotiation is clearly a political issue. The military would continue to maintain total presence in any security-threatened location, not only in the Niger Delta.
'And that is what we are doing in any other area with security issues like the North East and North Central.
'Anything that would bring peace is a welcome development. Negotiation is completely a political solution by our political leaders, it doesn't involve us.
'However, the military would continue to maintain a high level of presence to ensure that security of lives of properties are maintained.' - Punch.