Orubebe’s Secret Meeting With Okah Unsettles South African Government …I Went To South Africa Six Months Ago-Orubebe
Elder Godsday Orubebe, Minister for Niger Delta
The South African government is reportedly in a fix as new evidence from the trial of former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta; Henry Okah shows a complex relationship between him and top officials of Nigerian government.
But Orubebe claimed that the last time he made the trip to South Africa to see Okah was about five months ago as part government's effort to plead with the militants to stop militancy and support the Jonathan Presidency.
However, investigations and details from Okah's bail hearing reveals a complex web of intrigue between Okah and top aides of President Goodluck Jonathan.
A source close to Okah's family said that two weeks before the twin blasts to marred Nigeria's 50 th Independence Day celebrations, one of Jonathan's closest confidants, Elder Godsday Orubebe, the Minister of Niger Delta paid a secret visit to Okah in South Africa.
The source said Orubebe made it abundantly clear he was there on behalf of Jonathan.
Orubebe was hosted to a dinner by Okah and his wife during which he allegedly told Okah that President Jonathan needed his assistance and cooperation for his presidential campaign. Okah and Jonathan are not strange bedfellows. They are both from Nigeria's Bayelsa State.
Okah had told prosecutors that Nigerian Government through Orubebe requested for the quote for guns and requested a second quote from the South African Government. The purchase of guns and ammunition for the militant group.
In 2007, as Vice President, late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua sent Jonathan to seek ways of ending the Niger Delta crisis with Okah in South Africa. However, Okah was arrested in Angola a few weeks later and extradited to Nigeria. Okah believes the visit by Jonathan was a setup and never forgave him for it.
When Okah's case was settled and he was freed after a political arrangement was reached and Okah accepted “amnesty”, both men went their separate ways. When Jonathan became President at the death of Yar'Adua, he sought to renew his relationship with Okah and sent some of his trusted aides to him in South Africa but Okah allegedly rebuffed them.
However, Orubebe and another important adviser both with ties to Okah continued to ply pressure on the ex-rebel leader to work and cooperate with Jonathan.
As presidential politics kicked off, Jonathan decided it could no longer leave the issue of Okah unresolved and decided to dispatch Orubebe to South Africa to get his support.
On September 17, two weeks before the Abuja blasts, Orubebe traveled to South Africa and had dinner with him and his wife, Azuka, at his residence on September 18.
After dinner, a close family source said Okah dropped off Orubebe in his car at the popular Redeem Christian Church of God located at 118 Annie Road, Randburg, South Africa.
During the visit, Orubebe stayed at the prestigious Southern Sun hotel on Katherine Street located in the heart of Sandton, Johannesburg's premier business and financial hub. A mere 30 minutes' from the O.R Tambo International Airport.
In court yesterday, Okah insisted he was “Trying terribly hard from embarrasing the Nigerian government” by not saying everything he knows to which the South Africa prosecutor retorted, “The only person you are embarrassing is yourself Mr. Okah”
Sources close to Okah's family say he will pull everyone down if he opens his mouth. There is no doubt that top government officials pay him regular visits and sought his help to calm the region down.”
“The real fireworks will start when the case goes to trial and not the bail hearing. There is a reason government opted for a secret trial in 2008. If Okah talks heads will roll.” The source said.
In a news article published on March 17 th, 2008, in the Vanguard newspaper, Orubebe admitted that the then Vice President, Jonathan did travel to South Africa and met with Okah before he was arrested in Angola.
“Speaking in an interactive session with newsmen in Warri, Delta State, Elder Orubebe said the Vice President went to South Africa and met with Henry Okah just as he met with other persons that are supposed to be involved in the peace process in the region, asking, "If Vice President meets with you today and tomorrow, you have problem with the security agents, there is no way you will say that it is the Vice President that is behind it." The article said.
Effort to speak with the Presidential spokesman, Ima Niboro was not fruitful but a source within the Presidency told Pointblanknews.com that the alleged meeting with Okah by any Presidential aide was aimed at asking the militant leader to embrace the government amnesty program.
“There is nothing wrong if then Vice President or any presidential aide had a meeting with Okah because such meeting, if it ever held was to plead with Okah to stop the act of militancy and embrace the peaceful process initiated by President Jonathan.” A Presidential source who would not want to be named said.
Also, Elder Orubebe was quoted as saying that the last time he went to South Africa was about six months ago after assuming office as the Minister for Niger Delta. He said the visit was purely at the instance of the government's effort to speak with the leadership of MEND to embrace the amnesty program and put an end to the militancy in the Niger Delta.