By Bisi Olaniyi, Port Harcourt
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), has threatened to attack South Africa’s investments, including telecoms firm MTN, in the Niger Delta, because of the trial of its leader in Johannesburg.
“Our decision to attack South African investments in the Niger Delta is directly related to the conduct of President (Jacob) Zuma regarding the continued incarceration in South Africa of Henry Okah,” MEND said in an e-mail statement.
Okah is facing trial in South Africa, where he has permanent residence, on charges that he orchestrated twin car bombings — which killed 12 people in Abuja on October 1, 2010 — from his home in Johannesburg. He has denied the charges.
The militant group, in the statement signed by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said its planned attacks on the Nigerian oil industry would also affect all pipelines and facilities remotely related to the oil and gas sector.
The statement said: “Concerning attacks on MTN’s related infrastructure, MEND will issue shortly, a set of guidelines to MTN employees, customers and owners of properties accommodating MTN-related communication equipment.
“These guidelines are intended to minimise civilian casualties and forestall the unnecessary destruction of privately owned properties accommodating MTN equipment.
“Our decision to attack South African investments in the Niger Delta is directly related to the conduct of President Jacob Zuma, regarding the continued incarceration in South Africa of Henry Okah.
“What is happening in South Africa is a travesty of justice, which must be condemned by all. What country on earth, besides Nigeria, will so easily surrender its right to try someone it accuses of masterminding a bombing on its National Day?
“Why does the South African government seek the extradition of Shrien Dewani from England, for murder committed in South Africa?
“The South African government is simply being used by the Nigerian government to hold Okah in prison, for as long as it possibly can. The South African government also knowingly provided fabricated evidence to ensure Okah was denied bail in 2010.
“Jacob Zuma’s gain in all this is financial. Sacoil Holdings is a front for Zuma’s financial dealings in Nigeria. The South African president has also facilitated the award of several contracts in Nigeria to South African government-owned establishments and individuals in Zuma’s favour.
“After years of fighting for freedom and justice, South Africans now find themselves saddled with yet another typically African, corrupt and dictatorial government.
“We will attack South African investments for the interference of President Jacob Zuma in the judicial process, which has resulted in the perpetual incarceration of Henry Okah.
“It is a shame on all black Africans, that it has taken the government of Jacob Zuma less than four years to undo the work of the great Nelson Mandela and other heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle, abseiling South Africa into the abyss comfortably occupied by countries like Nigeria, Congo and Angola.
“It is apparent from the success of the Nigerian government, that this corrupt and politically-naive South African government understands only the language of force.”
MEND also asked why the Nigerian nation could turn around and declare Okah’s continued detention for almost 19 months without trial, a just action.
It noted that the unconditional offer of amnesty, made in good faith by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, was intended to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue, aimed at addressing the demands of the people of the Niger Delta.
The militant group also said: “A Jonathan presidency and amnesty for militants are not part of our demands and therefore will never be solutions to armed agitation for justice in the Niger Delta.
“President Goodluck Jonathan has mismanaged the goodwill demonstrated by MEND, by misrepresenting himself and his band of charlatans, as the reason for the relative calm experienced in the Niger Delta.
“We have never had any respect for Jonathan and today, most Nigerians understand why. To date, not one of the demands put forward to the Yar Adua government has been met, neither has the Nigerian government initiated dialogue aimed at addressing any of our demands.
“We will persist with our attacks on the Nigerian oil industry, due to the inaction of the Nigerian government, concerning our just demands, on behalf of the oppressed people of the Niger Delta.
“Fighters in the Niger Delta do not possess relevant high school qualifications. Those being sent abroad are relatives and friends of Jonathan, amnesty committee members etc. The entire process is a fraud on the people of Nigeria who are being promised peace in the Niger Delta, in the absence of justice.” The militant group added that it would “once and for all” expose President Jonathan and his “band of so-called ex-militants and shameless Ijaw elders” for the frauds they are.”
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