- West Africa
Nigeria: Rebels raising their stock of kidnapped Britons
They want them exchanged for Henry Okah their leader
The most notorious Niger Delta rebel militia have kidnapped another Briton, adding to their list of British hostages, and they have sworn not to release their victims unless their leader is released by the Nigerian government.
The latest victim is said to be a Scot, but his name has not been officially confirmed, however he joins Robin Hughes and Matthew Maguire, both of England who have been held hostage by the rebels for almost six months now.
The rebels group operating under the name: The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) have said they will only free the Britons if Mend leader Henry Okah is released from jail.
Observers have described the rebels demand as too big, considering that their leader Mr. Henry Okah is currently facing the death penalty on treason and gun-running charges at a secret trial being held in the northern city of Jos.
The recently kidnapped Scot was traveling in an armed convoy through Port Harcourt on Sunday when militants attacked and killed his police guard. The Scot has not been identified officially but it reported that he works for a Nigerian oil service company.
Hundreds of expatriates and many more Nigerian workers have been seized for ransom in the last three years and the Joint Task Force deployed to check the kidnappings have failed to prevent the crime.
While Mend claims it is fighting for a fairer distribution of Nigeria’s oil wealth, it has along with other armed groups in the Delta funded itself through kidnapping, extortion and oil theft.
Concerning the unrest in the Niger Delta, Britain had promised military training to improve the Nigerian military Joint Task Force’s ability to police the Delta region. But a source close to the former government of President Olusegun Obasanjo said that the Niger Delta problem would not be solved by quashing militants in boats.
It was revealed that some of the people who run the cartels are among Nigeria’s top political godfathers, who wield massive political influence in the country.