The group in a statement issued yesterday evening by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, said governments of the two countries should release the Okahs and others if they want peace and security to reign.
While Henry Okah was given a 24 years jail sentence by a South African court which found him guilty of 13 offences, including the October 1, 2010 bombings in Abuja and Warri, Delta State, his brother Charles Okah, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Abuja for the same offence.
MEND’s statement read in part: “We urge the governments of South Africa and Nigeria at this time to allow the bud of peace and security a chance to sprout by releasing the Okah brothers and other political hostages being incarcerated with trumped-up charges”.
MEND also debunked the security report that the incident at Agip jetty was a foiled kidnap attempt, saying “On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, soldiers of the Joint Task Force (JTF), and a policeman, were killed around the Agip jetty in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, after trying to intercept MEND fighters on a reconnaissance mission. Contrary to speculations, they were not attempting to carry out a kidnap operation”.
Giving an update on ‘Hurricane Exodus’ from October 27 to November 16, 2013, MEND said: “We first broke the news of the hostage release exclusively to Ms Debora Patta, of CBS news who was hesitant to use the information days before it was made public by a US State Department’s spokeswoman.
“Following the due process, a ransom of 2 million US dollars in cash was paid, with a larger percentage of it coming from an embarrassed Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA).”
It said further: “Some respite came to the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region from October 27 – November 01, 2013 when ‘Hurricane Exodus’ was downgraded to a gentle breeze as a mark of respect to the late Vice Admiral Mike O. Akhigbe (Rtd) whose flagship finally sunk after a valiant and protracted battle with cancer.
“The late Vice Admiral Akhigbe (Rtd) was the leader of the disbanded MEND Aaron Team selected and mandated by the group to dialogue on its behalf with the government of the late President Musa Yar’Adua on issues that led to our insurgency before any amnesty could be considered. But, they were never given that opportunity after President Goodluck Jonathan became president following the death of President Yar’Adua”.