Nigeria, Netherlands, Shell authorities play safe over Ofehe

Emma Amaize

15 October 2011, Sweetcrude, ROTTERDAM- NIGERIAN Embassy in The Netherlands, Ministry of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, avoided taking a risk, weekend, when the prosecution of a Nigerian-Dutch activist, Comrade Sunny Ofehe, by the Netherlands government for alleged pipeline bombing in Nigeria reverberated at an international conference on the Niger-Delta in Rotterdam, weekend.

But Ofehe’s lawyer, Mr. Ed Manders of Manders Advocaten, who spoke to journalists 24 hours earlier in his office in Rotterdam, said the case of terrorism by The Netherlands Police against his client, who is the founder/president of the Hope for Niger-Delta Campaign, HNDC, was not provable, as the prosecution was merely relying on a phone conversation in which the activist requested for an opportunity to videotape an oil bunkering activity in Nigeria.

Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Her Excellency, Dr. (Mrs.) Nimota Akanbi, who was reacting to allegation that the Federal Government kept mute while its citizen was being prosecuted abroad in what the Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta and Chief Executive Officer of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Hon Kingsley Kuku described as “persecution”, said: “The Embassy is monitoring the case”.

The Head Horn of Africa, East and West Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands, Mr. Michiel Beirkins and Strategic Business Manager, SPDC, Mr. Barnabas Briggs, who spoke at a conference, organized by HNDC, on “Success and Challenges of Nigeria Government Amnesty Programme: Role of International Community”, said since the case was already in court, it would be groundless to commence on it.

Dr. Akanbi, who was represented by a minister in the Embassy, Mr. Mustapha Kida, received some bashing from the former national president of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Dr. Chris Ekiyor and other Nigerians who attended the conference for not personally attending the event. She was supposed to have delivered a lecture, “Nigeria-Dutch Bilateral Relations: Impact on the Niger-Delta”, but she stayed away when she learnt that Hon. Kuku rushed back to Nigeria.

However, Mr. Kida maintained, “As an Embassy, part of our functions is to take care of all Nigerians in The Netherlands. We were concerned when we read that he (Ofehe) was charged before the Dutch Court. We have shown concern since the case started, we have been monitoring keenly”.

He said Ofehe could attest that the Nigerian Embassy had not in any way abandoned him and that as an institution; the embassy had to respect the judicial process in The Netherlands, while it also keeps an eye on the matter.

In his remarks, Mr. Bierkins of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “I am not in the position to comment on legal proceedings here in The Netherlands”.

SPDC representative, Mr. Briggs who also spoke in a similar manner, adding that the company recognized the tragedy of oil exploration and exploitation activities in the Niger-Delta and was prepared to partner with the government and other stakeholders to improve the lots of the people.

Ofehe’s Nigerian lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, October 10, sent a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to probe the prosecution of the activist in The Netherlands for alleged pipeline bombing in Nigeria.

He said that Ofehe’s offence was that he was speaking the truth about the environment abuse of SPDC with its international headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands, in the Niger-Delta and the trial was to persecute him.

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