- The Nigerian presidency has said the detained leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) Henry Okah has accepted the unconditional amnesty offer by the Federal Government. Mr Okah is facing treason and gun-running charges since his arrest in Angola in 2007.
The Presidency yesterday said that he would soon be released after all paper work and arrangements have been made.
The adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Olusegun Adeniyi said the acceptance of amnesty by Mr Okah was widely accepted by the government saying the government is facilitating his release.
Mr Adeniyi said President Umaru Yar'Adua has also called on the remaining militant leaders to avail themselves for the amnesty offer to pave the way for peace and rapid development in the Niger Delta.
The Federal Government offered an amnesty to members of militant group in June, if they agree to government terms to lay down their weapons.
MEND has expressed delight over the prospect of Mr Okah's release based on his acceptance of the amnesty package.
MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said if Mr Okah accepts the conditions for his release, which the group would not call amnesty, fighters would switch the campaign to a different level to accommodate the changes.
“We are happy for him. We consider his acceptance of whatever was presented to him as the first prescription towards his medical treatment. We will do the same in his circumstance,” Mr Gbomo said.
MEND, which among its top demands was the release of the Mr Okah, said his release signals commitment of the government to ensure that rebels in the oil rich Delta region lay down arms.
However, it said there still a number of issues that needs to be sorted out with the government before they could accept the amnesty.
Armed attacks and kidnappings and hijackings of vessels in the Niger Delta, which is home to Nigeria's oil industry, have cut the African nation's exports more than 20 percent since 2006.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main armed group in the region, says it's fighting for the region's poor and has distanced itself from armed groups engaged in kidnappings for ransom.
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