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Lawyer Says Detained Nigerian Rebel Leader ill in Prison


A Nigerian defense lawyer is demanding urgent medical treatment for detained Nigerian separatist leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari. Gilbert da Costa in Abuja reports for VOA that Dokubo's deteriorating health could lead to further violence in the Niger Delta.

Festus Keyamo, counsel to Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, the detained leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, says his client requires a thorough medical examination.

"Asari has been very sick in the past two weeks or thereabout. He urinates up to 50 times a day," he said. "If he drinks anything, he passes out urine immediately. Out of panic, the SSS [State Security Service] called his one doctor and their own doctor and they carried out a joint examination of him."

"They discovered that he is not diabetic. We are worried that the authorities may be doing something to him and his health. We have had information before that they may want to eliminate him before May 29," he continued.

Dokubo, who has been in detention since 2005, had often complained about conditions in his State Security Service cell in Abuja.

The secret police have ignored a court order that he be transferred to regular police custody.

Dukobo has been charged with planning to overthrow the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo and with inciting the people of the Niger Delta to take up arms against the government over neglect and corruption.

Some armed groups in the oil-rich region have made his release a top demand for any ceasefire.

Lawyer Festus Keyamo says the separatist leader's continued incarceration is driving the current violence in the region.

"It is the actions of the federal government against the militants and especially against Asari that has made the situation to degenerate in the Niger Delta," he said. "There was no issue of kidnappings and all that before. It was when they arrested Asari that kidnappings started, as a reaction to Asari's arrest and then it escalated to a thriving commercial industry."

The creeks and mangroves of the Niger Delta are home to Nigeria's multi-billion oil and gas industry.

Violent attacks on oil facilities and personnel in the region have increased dramatically in the past two years.

Close to 200 foreigners workers have been kidnapped, but were later released.

A Belarusian national and a British oil worker were abducted over the weekend, bringing to 28 the number of foreign workers kidnapped in the past week alone, although eight were released within hours.

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