Sunny Ofehe, known as Comrade Sunny to his friends and colleagues, is to stand trial today in a Rotterdam court on charges of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.
Ofehe was arrested on 22 February 2011, originally on “suspicion of people smuggling and forgery” and has been in detention since then. The Dutch authorities later altered the charges and accused Ofehe of plotting to blow up Shell pipelines in the oil-rich Niger Delta. His arrest follows what appears to be an elaborate year-long surveillance operation during which
his phones and computers were allegedly tapped and a camera placed in front of his office for three weeks.
Ofehe’s lawyers are sceptical about the motives in the case against their client. They are convinced that the Dutch authorities are complicit in a campaign to silence a vocal critic of the multinational oil companies and alleged misappropriation of oil revenues by the Nigerian government. “There’s something funny going on, that’s all I can say for now,” says Ed Manders.
Ofehe has played a central role in recent campaigning against the oil giant in Holland. In January 2011, Ofehe took Dutch parliamentarians on a tour of the Niger Delta on 26 January he appeared to give testimony before the Dutch Parliament’s inquiry into Shell’s environmental and social impact in Nigeria.
PLATFORM is concerned that the timing of Ofehe’s arrest and the charges against him could be politically motivated, and we urge the Dutch authorities to guarantee due process and a fair hearing. Follow the live blog at Radio Netherlands Worldwide here.