Charles Tonbrah Okah, detained leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) reported to have escaped from custody during a jailbreak at the Kuje Maximum Security Prison on Friday, has denied that he escaped as being reported . Okah's denial was contained in a statement issued by his lawyers, First Law Solicitors, on Sunday.
Signed by Timipa Okponipere, the statement said Okah had no involvement in the jailbreak, which occurred at about 7.00pm on Friday.
According to Okponipere, the MEND leader was quarantined in an isolated room in the Kuje Prison Clinic for a suspected Lassa Fever
infection when news of the incident broke. The lawyer attributed Okah's alleged involvement in the jailbreak to his popularity among the inmates of the prison.
"On account of his popularity amongst the inmates, word quickly spread that our client was among the two inmates who escaped by scaling the 25- feet-high Kuje Prison fence. "It took almost 24 hours for the inmates and prison authorities to realise that our client had not escaped from the Prison.
"Our client has further instructed us to notify all Nigerians and the international community that, God willing, and without prejudice to his ongoing trial, he shall triumphantly walk out of the Kuje Prison gates as a free and vindicated man," the statement said.
Okponipere added that Okah is already looking towards regaining his freedom, as he is working hand in hand with the current administration to bring stability to the Niger Delta. In addition, said Okponipere, Okah wishes to appeal to the Judiciary, particularly, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, to speedily determine his case, which has dragged for nearly seven years.
As part of his efforts to restore stability to the Niger Delta, the statement quoted Okah as saying that the people of the region should give maximum support to MEND's "Aaron Team 2" initiative, a body aimed at dialogue with the Federal Government on the immediate, medium and long-term future of the region.
He also appealed to militant groups in the region to stop attacks on oil installations and desist from being used by disgruntled, corrupt and selfish politicians.