Detained oil rebel needs medical treatment in SA

LAGOS - The suspected leader of Nigeria's main militant group needs urgent treatment for a kidney ailment and should be allowed to be treated in South Africa, his wife and lawyer said.

LAGOS - The suspected leader of Nigeria's main militant group needs urgent treatment for a kidney ailment and should be allowed to be treated in South Africa, his wife and lawyer said.

Henry Okah, who is being tried for gun-running and treason, still commands loyalty from several well-armed factions in the Niger Delta, where militants carried out a wave of attacks on oil platforms, pipelines and flow stations last week.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the militant group which Okah is believed to have led before his detention, is holding three foreigners and 22 Nigerian oil workers captive as leverage to demand his release.

A judge in the central town of Jos ordered state security officers to take Okah to an undisclosed hospital last week following a plea from his lawyers, but his family said the medical care he needed was not available in Nigeria.

Okah's wife, Azuka Okah, said: "The urgency for immediate specialist care is imperative, as he has only one functional kidney.

"I am therefore ... pleading that since kidney specialist care is unavailable in Nigeria, the family is ready to bear the cost of the medical expenses for this treatment, preferably in South Africa," she said.

One of Okah's lawyers, Wilson Ajuwa, said: "He has his medical history in South Africa. It is all part of our legal duty to ensure his wellbeing," Ajuwa said. - Reuters

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