Contrary to reports that no ransom was paid to secure the release of Mrs. Augusta Douglas-Anyiam, a sister to President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Research, Strategy and Documentation, Oronto Douglas, from the den of kidnappers, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday claimed it collected a ransom of $200,000.
It would be recalled that Douglas-Ayiam, 48, was abducted around 8:45 pm penultimate Monday at the waterfront of Ogbia Town in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Her kidnappers had initially placed a ransom of N500 million on her head but MEND said the family paid $200,000 to facilitate her freedom.
In an online statement last night purportedly signed by the spokesperson of the militant group, Jomo Gbomo, MEND also gave graphic details of how the refinery in Warri, Delta state was attacked on October 22, leading to an explosion as well as its gunfight with security agents on the same day in Rivers State.
It also vowed to sustain the attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region.
The militant group said: “The sister of Mr. Oronto Douglas was released unharmed, as we promised. She, however, had developed high blood pressure and malaria while in captivity.
“Contrary to the claim by the Douglas family that no ransom was paid, MEND can authoritatively confirm that the sum of $200,000 was paid as ransom.”
On how the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical plant was attacked, MEND said: “In the early hours of Wednesday, October 23, 2013, an armed auxiliary outfit (referred by the authorities as pirates), attacked a United States flagged oil supply vessel and singled out the two Americans on board.
“This action (kidnap of two Americans) was also to show their disdain and content for an ongoing Joint Naval Exercise with foreign navies in the Delta region. We have informed their abductors that Mr. Henry Okah (one of the leaders of MEND, serving jail term in a South African prison.) would have wanted the men released as soon as possible.
“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which we earlier infiltrated with the full recruitment of a high-level agent, resulted in the successful sabotage from within (of Warri refinery) on October 22, 2013.
“Throwing a spanner in the works does not require rocket science or commando skills to execute. It only takes a belief in our cause to make things happen.”
MEND also stated that on the same day it sabotaged operations in the Warri refinery, it also attacked an escort gunboat of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Andoni Local Government Area of neighbouring Rivers State.
According to the militant group, the troops were confronted not ambushed as claimed by the military authorities just as it also stated that the attackers were not armed robbers but MEND fighters.
It also lampooned repentant militants for selling their ‘birthrights’ in exchange for ‘handouts’ and challenged them to come out of their hiding place.
The statement added: “Some so-called ex-militants and jobless youths, who have sold their birthrights for handouts, were again paid to declare that militancy ended in 2009.
“As they continue to delude themselves, display their ignorance and irrelevance, the region, as can be seen by the world, is in turmoil. That can no longer be hidden.
“We dare the so-called ex-Generals to come out from their hiding in Abuja into the creeks, to restore order.
“The Niger Delta amnesty office in the presidency issued a contradictory statement that MEND only exists on cyberspace. This same office made a public appeal to MEND, to refrain from our threat to attack mosques in retaliation to Boko Haram’s attacks on churches.”