British hostage, Matthew Maguire who is currently under captivity in the Nigerian Niger Delta, has declared himself an activist and an advocate for change in the oil-rich region. In view of his commitment to the cause of change, Maguire has declined an offer of his release.
According to a statement released by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) Mr. Maguire was due to be released on his birthday which was yesterday, June 1, 2009, but the Briton has refused to leave, in a bid to show his solidarity with the rebel group. The British High Commission is investigating and has indicated that they will comment when they have obtained further information.
Maguire has come to agree that the rebels are only fighting for a better deal for their communities, from Nigeria’s oil revenue. If the claims of advocay are true, Maguire will now speak or write in favor of healing the Niger Delta and its people; support or urge by argument, and recommend publicly the much needed attention that the local deprived communities in the region deserve.
Experts and observers have claimed that corruption and poor governance in the Niger Delta has allowed militant groups to fund their activities, kidnap, extort and steal oil, but Maguire who was kidnapped in September 2008 along with fellow British citizen, Mr. Robin Hughes and 25 other expatriates, has offered his solidarity to the rebels, nonetheless.
The foreign expatriates who were kidnapped alongwith maguire were seized by a group of pirates operating in Nigeria’s oil coast, who then handed them over to Mend. All the other hostages have been released except for Mr. Maguire who has been held in the oil swamps for almost nine months now.
Mr Maguire was used as a bait by the rebels to demand the release of Mend’s leader Henry Okah, who is facing the death penalty at a treason trial being held in secret by the Nigerian government. The rebels had warned the military not to try and attack them in an attempt to rescue Maguire.