AC commends FG on Okah’s release, condemns bombing of Atlas Cove

By Olayinka Oyebode, Olamilekan Lartey and Mudiaga Affe

The Action Congress on Tuesday hailed the release of the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Mr. Henry Okah, by the Federal Government.

Three state chapters of the party, in different statements made available to our correspondents, while hailing Okah's release, however, condemned the bombing of the Atlas Cove oil facility in Lagos by MEND.

While noting that Okah's release was an indication of government's seriousness about ending the crisis in the Niger Delta, the AC chapters in Bayelsa, Lagos and Rivers said the bombing of the Atlas Cove in Lagos was unwarranted.

The Rivers State chapter of AC, in a statement by its publicity secretary, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, said the timely release of the MEND leader and the withdrawal of all treason and felony charges against him was commendable

The party said, ”His timely release is an indication of the Federal Government's interest in restoring lasting peace to the Niger Delta region. If we may recall, the arrest of Okah had only served to escalate the spates of violence in the region.

”In the wake of the amnesty announcement, while certain groups had hitherto hinged their willingness to accept the offer on the release of Okah from detention, MEND, NDVF and other militant groups within the region had, on the other hand, demonstrated maturity on issues affecting the region by bringing the injustice and plight of its people to the front burner in both local and foreign community. ”

The Bayelsa State chapter of the party, while condemning the bombing of the Atlas Cove oil facility, said the development was unhelpful to the quest for lasting peace in the Niger Delta, especially coming at a time government demonstrated its seriousness by releasing Okah.

The state secretary of the AC, Mr. Miriki Ebikibina, said, ”Although the party is sceptical on the constitutionality of the amnesty because it bothers on the prerogative of mercy, the party notes that with Okah formally discharged and acquitted, it is regrettable that the first gift to herald the release was the attack on Atlas Cove jetty by MEND”

The Lagos State chapter of the party, however urged the Federal Government to ensure that the crisis in the oil rich region was effectively resolved without further loss of lives and damage to properties.

The party said it was issuing the appeal bearing in mind that the nation could not afford to continue threading the bloody path while the central issues in the Niger Delta question remained unresolved.

In a statement signed in by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, AC said it was concerned that the Niger Delta crisis had been externalised to perforate the peaceful coexistence of Lagos.

The party raised the alarm that such situation would pose great danger to the peace and unity of the country, if not quickly resolved.

It said, ”It is apparent that full-scale military action against the militants and people of the Niger Delta is proving incapable of solving the Niger Delta problem hence the present generalisation of the militant attacks to such a cosmopolitan and important state as Lagos.”