Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nnimmo Bassey arrested in Nigeria wt some dutch mps

*Press Release*

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*December 19, 2010*

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*Release ERA staffs now, ERA urges JTF*

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN)
has called for the immediate and unconditional release of ERA staff,
including the executive director, Nnimmo Bassey and a Dutch MP- Sharon
Gesthuizen, Dutch Diplomat, Community Representatives and Journalist
with Compass Newspaper, who were arrested by the Joint Military Task
Force (JTF) on the Niger Delta while on official duty, insisting that
the action is an unacceptable human right violation.

ERA Staff were on a visit to a gas flare facility in the company of the
foreign parliamentarians when they were accosted and subsequently
detained by men of the JTF at Oben, a border town between Delta and Edo
State on the allegation that they were on a clandestine mission.

Repeated appeals that their mission was totally in conformity with ERA's
monitoring activities fell on deaf ears as the JTF soldiers insisted the
arrested ERA staff and the foreign nationals will only be released when
such an order comes from their headquarters. As at the time of releasing
the statement, no such order had come from the JTF headquarters.

Reacting to the development, ERA Programmes Director, Godwin Ojo
described the incident as "embarrassing and unfortunate", saying the
ugly incident was a sad reminder that the military is yet to wean itself
of the siege mentality when dealing with civilians.

"This unwarranted action is a clear indication that the Niger Delta is
still a militarised zone where people cannot move freely as enshrined in
the Nigerian Constitution. The JTF must simply explain this action"

Ojo pointed out that the action of the JTF adds to a growing list of
human rights violations the task force has been enmeshed in, in recent
time, including the Odi massacre in 1999 and Ayakoromor bombing last
month, which led to tens of deaths, loss of property and displacement of
Ayakoromor community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

Ojo said the excesses of the JTF in recent time is a growing cause of
concern, even as he added that the Federal Government has the
responsibility of guaranteeing the military acts responsibly and
respects the rights of not only the people of the Niger Delta, but also
every Nigerian.

"We demand the immediate and unconditional release of ERA staff and the
Dutch parliamentarians. This unwarranted action must be fully
investigated and perpetrators brought to book. We also demand an
unreserved apology from the JTF for the trauma that victims have passed
through. Anything short of this is unnaceptable, " Ojo noted.

Philip Jakpor

Head of Media



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