Mon, Jul 13, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Nigerian rebels, government agree on amnesty plan


Nigerian rebel leader Henry Okah has agreed to the terms of a government amnesty program and his lawyers said that they would meet Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua yesterday to discuss a timetable for his release.

The release of Okah, suspected leader of Nigeria’s most prominent militant group, would raise hopes some rebels would lay down their arms and halt an offensive in the Niger Delta, heartland of Africa’s biggest oil and gas sector.

“Terms of the amnesty have been settled. The agreement we are going to discuss [with the president] is the timeline for his release,” one of Okah’s lawyers, Wilson Ajuwa, said by telephone.

He said Okah, who has been facing charges of gun-running and treason, could be freed as early as yesterday after more than a year in detention.

“We are fighting for the preservation of our client’s life and extraction from jail. We will do everything possible to achieve that,” Ajuwa said.

Okah’s deteriorating health has been a growing concern for his lawyers, who have repeatedly requested that he should be flown overseas for medical treatment.

The rebel leader was arrested in Angola in September 2007 and extradited to Nigeria.

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