Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe
By Patrick Ugeh
The Federal Government has asked the faction of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which is threatening to resort to violence over Henry Okah’s conviction by a South African court, to reconsider the threat and give peace a chance.
Okah, the alleged leader of MEND, was found guilty by a South African court last week for masterminding the October 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja, which left 12 dead and several injured.
In reaction to the conviction, MEND issued a statement on Saturday, threatening to sabotage oil installations and South African companies, stating that Okah’s conviction was political.
The group also banished the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, from the Niger Delta region.
But the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, told the group to reconsider their threat because there were enough challenges facing the country without returning to that era it had left behind with the amnesty programme.
Answering questions on the threat during a question and answer session after addressing the media in Abuja yesterday, the minister urged MEND and all citizens to demonstrate a high sense of patriotism as no other country could offer better opportunities to them as much as Nigeria.
“Our citizens should understand that this nation offers the best opportunity for you to realise the goals of your life,” he said.
“Anything you do against this country is not a plus. You should commit yourselves to the laws of the land. Allow the peace, which has led to a lot of development in the Niger Delta, not to be disturbed.
“Acts of vandalism and threats should be condemned by all Nigerians. This is not the time for threats. The challenges we face are enough for Nigerians.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us, not those of us in government alone. No one who saw what was in the Niger Delta in the days past will advocate violence,” he said.
Noting that the government was training thousands of Niger Deltans in the aftermath of the truce reached after the amnesty programme, Maku pleaded: “We must give peace a chance.”
He reminded the group of the fact that Okah was tried in South Africa and found guilty of terrorism.
“It is shocking that any Nigerian or group of Nigerians will hold this against their own country,” he said.