The federal government has opened its testimony as the prosecution witness in the case involving the leader for the Movement for Defence of the Niger-Delta (MEND), Mr. Henry Okah, with indications emerging that President Goodluck Jonathan is disposed to offering him an olive branch to pacify the volatile oil region.
Okah is currently standing trial in a Johannesburg (South African) court regarding his role in the twin bombing that rocked the October 1st 2010 Independence Day Anniversary celebrations in Abuja where scores of people were killed and wounded.
Leading the FG team that testified on Tuesday was the Niger Delta Minister, Mr. Godsday Orubebe who told the South Gauteng High Court that despite the grievous harm that the bombings caused to families of the victims, dialogue with members of warring factions has proved the best strategy in restoring peace to the oil-rich state.
“Throughout his tenure, Jonathan has always preached about the use of dialogue as a better way of getting to mutual consensus on contentious matters. If the accused is ready for dialogue, we will be very pleased to bring him on board,” Orubebe said.
According to information regarding the proceedings of the court obtained from website of a South African based newspaper, Mail and Guardian, Orubebe told the court that MEND, has two factions led by ex-militant, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
Orubebe said the other faction, which he termed as minority is linked to Okah, saying while former militants under Tompolo had taken up amnesty and abandoned an armed rebellion; those under Okah fought on.
A situation that might have warranted the decision of government to seek to extend an olive branch to the embattled militant to forestall a total breakdown of law and order in the region, if Okah’s men are left behind in the programme.