*Ofehe is being persecuted – Kuku
13 October 2011, Sweetcrude, ROTTERDAM- LAGOS lawyer and activist, Festus Keyamo Esq. has asked the Federal Government to institute an independent inquiry into the case of a Dutch-Nigerian activist, Comrade Sunny Ofehe, who is presently undergoing trial in The Netherlands for alleged terrorism committed in Nigeria.
Keyamo in a letter, dated October 10, addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan, copied to the Senate President, Senator David Mark and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, said he was acting on behalf of Comrade Ofehe, who is the founder/president of the Hope for Niger-Delta Campaign, a Non Governmental Organization, based in The Netherlands.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta and Chief Executive Officer of the Post Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, in separate meetings with the French Institute for Foreign Relations, IFRI, and members of European Union, EU, Parliament with interest on the Niger-Delta, during the week, in Paris, France, and Brussel, Belgium, commended Comrade Ofehe for his campaign in Europe against environmental abuses in the region my multinational oil companies.
According to Keyamo, “Our client is a Nigerian and a human and environmental rights activist and the founder of a non-governmental organization based in The Netherlands known as ‘Hope for Niger-Delta Campaign’. Our client’s organization is at the fore-front of raising international awareness about the environmental degradation and human rights abuses in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria”.
“Although, our client founded the said organization in the year, 2005, he has been resident in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, since 1995, without having any problem with law enforcement agencies.
“Our client’s present ordeal in the hands of the Dutch authorities commenced on the 22nd of February, 2011, following his arrest by the Dutch Police on initial charges of “human trafficking, fraud and providing false information to assist a political asylum seeker”.
“Coincidentally, our client’s arrest on the 22nd of February, 2011, came on the heels of his public testimony against oil giant (Shell) and its exploration activities in the Niger-Delta at a forum organised by the Dutch Parliament in January 2011”, he stated.
Keyamo added, “Prior to that testimony, our client facilitated a trip by a member of the Dutch Parliament to the Niger-Delta region sometime in December 2010, to have first- hand information on the extent of the environmental degradation by oil companies operating in the region as well as the predicament it has foisted on residents of the Niger-Delta region”.
“Another coincidence to the February 22, 2011 arrest of our client was that it came on the eve of his return to Nigeria to participate in the funeral rites of his mother who was assassinated sometime in October, 2007 by yet-to-be- apprehended assassins.
“As a result of this string of coincidence, it is our client’s firm conviction that some “powerful forces”, both in the Netherlands and Nigeria, are actively involved in his present ordeal with the Dutch authorities.
“To further confirm our client’s suspicion, following the inability of the Dutch authorities to sustain the charge of human trafficking earlier slammed on him, a new charge of “conspiracy to commit terror act by blowing pipelines belonging to Shell in Nigeria” has been added to the existing charges”, he stated.
“With the inclusion of this charge, our client becomes the first offender to be prosecuted under this law in the entire Netherlands”.
“We respectfully call on you, to use your good offices to intervene and see that the persecution of our client by the Dutch Authority is terminated or, at least, that the Nigeria government is fully briefed as to what is happening to our client in the Netherlands. We also pray you to cause a thorough investigation into the allegations leveled against him.
“We find it extremely curious and embarrassing that, so far, the Nigerian government knows nothing about the trial of a Nigerian citizen in a foreign land accused of planning such a horrendous act as “blowing of pipelines” in Nigeria. It smacks of intimidation and persecution.
“As his solicitors, we shall assist your office in its effort to get to the roots of his ordeal in the hands of the Dutch authorities”, he asserted.
Kuku stated in Paris on Monday, His words, “It is because you are saying the truth, which is why you (Ofehe) would continue to have problems in The Netherlands. Your problems cannot end. We read about your problems every time and now that they are attacking and have not only tagged you a mere terrorist, but they have taken you to court in Netherlands”.
“We read about your travails. Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, is very big; Shell is bigger than some countries. You can’t fight over country organization like Shell alone, but continue to try because I know if you keep silent , you would die, you talk, you would die, so why not talk and die?
“So you should continue because that is why they are after you. You are saying the truth. You are saying that your environment is destroyed. You are saying that they have destroyed your community and that they have taken so much of your oil and your money, they are developing their country and destructing your own.
“And they know that a lot of people in Europe would not want to see that kind of thing happen because they believe in justice. Their communities are built on the ground of justice so they are stopping them from seeing those things and that is the essence of the travel advice.
“So we urged them to lift but if they fail, we would lift it on our own. We would do a lot of peace programme, we would invite a lot of Europeans, Americans to see what is actually happening in the Niger Delta region. If this travel advice is lifted, the Niger Delta people would not even be the ones to agitate, Americans and Europeans would be agitating in their own country and that is why that travel advice is there. Shell, Chevron would not even allow them. They would already create a scenario of insecurity to cover anybody”, he stated.
Ofehe, who was arrested in February by the Dutch Police and released after spending some weeks in detention, was charged to court in The Netherlands in September for allegedly plotting to blow up oil pipelines operated by Shell in Nigeria,.
The case was adjourned to December following some objections raised by his defence team, led by El Manders of the law firm, Manders Advocaten.
According to a report by Radio Netherlands, Ofehe’s lawyer, Ed Manders , who specializes in people trafficking cases, said he does not understand “why Dutch police are concerned about oil pipelines in Nigeria”.
However, Wim de Bruijn, a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office explained that a person could be charged in the Netherlands for acts committed abroad if the conspiracy took place in the Netherlands.