Following the imprisonment of Henry Okah in South Africa, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) says it would commence coordinated attacks from Friday morning.
A South African court sentenced Okah to 24 years in jail after he was found guilty of 13 counts of terrorism, including a bombing that killed 12 people in Abuja, on Oct. 1, 2010. MEND claimed the attack. While Okah denies he leads the group.
However, MEND threatened yesterday to launch what it called “a plague of sustained attacks, codenamed: Hurricane Exodus, as from Friday.
But the Joint Task Force (JTF) warned the group against engaging in any form of confrontation with security operatives.
In an online statement issued by Jomo Gbomo, MEND said: “After a careful deliberation and other considerations, with effect from 00:00 hrs, Friday, 05 April, 2013, the MEND will commence with a plague of sustained attacks codenamed Hurricane Exodus.
“Hurricane Exodus is a direct repercussion of a forged threat letter, contrived by the Nigerian and South African governments, purporting to have originated from MEND. The fake letter was used as evidence against Henry Okah, for which a thirteen-year sentence was passed.
“To make matters worse, the prosecution’s second witness, Mr. Sele Victor-Ben (aka Boyloaf, ex-militant leader from Bayelsa State) exclaimed in court that the letter was fake, after failing to catch the prosecutor’s eye, who wanted him to lie under oath.
“We are now determined to conjure this imaginary trumped-up threat into a painful reality.”
Jomo Gbomo had, immediately after the March 26 sentencing of Okah issued an online statement, saying MEND was not surprised but disappointed with the South African court’s verdict.
It said that the court allowed itself to be compromised by the “highly-corrupt Nigerian government”.
It said: “MEND received with incredulity, the 24-year sentence planned on Henry Okah, after a sham trial in a South African kangaroo court.
“We are disappointed, but not surprised that the South African judiciary has allowed itself to be compromised by the highly-corrupt Nigerian government.
“The governments of South Africa and Nigeria should realise that this planned sentencing of Henry Okah would not in any way, shape or form, change our struggle, as we will remain dedicated to our cause, until we achieve full justice and emancipation for the Niger Delta and its people.”
JTF spokesman Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, who reacted to the MEND’s threat to resume an indefinite hostility tomorrow, said there was no justification for arms struggle in a free environment.
MEND had in an online statement by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, announced a plan to begin attacks, codenamed: “Hurricane Exodus”, beginning from tomorrow.
Lt.-Col. Nwachukwu, in a statement yesterday said: “Operation Pulo Shield has got wind of the threat, prior to the issuance of the statement today (yesterday) by some persons parading themselves as MEND.
“Niger Deltans are not in any bondage and, therefore, do not require armed struggle or emancipation, as claimed by this threatening gang.
“What Niger Deltans are in a dire need of now is peace for sustainable development, having emerged from the dark days of turbulence in the region. Informed by this development, we have effected some redeployment, to tackle any upheaval.
“This set of people is advised to toe the path of law and order in addressing whatever grievance they have and to desist from any action that will upset the peace and development of the Niger Delta.”
The JTF urged the “good and peace-loving” people of Niger Delta to dissociate themselves, their communities and leadership from the “unwholesome” portrayed by MEND.