LAGOS (AFP) — The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) Tuesday accused Nigeria's government of plotting to kill presumed MEND leader Henry Okah, currently in detention, using snake poison.
"A very reliable security source informed us that a large poisonous snake was discovered and killed by Henry Okah inside his dungeon at the Army Directorate of Military Intelligence today," MEND said in an e-mail to the media.
The group is the most prominent armed force claiming to represent the people of Nigeria's oil-rich southern Niger Delta area and has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on oil company and government targets in the past two years.
It said in its statement that this was the second time a highly poisonous snake had been discovered and killed in Okah's cell and warned of "dire consequences" if Okah was killed.
Okah and his compatriot Edward Atatah who are currently facing a secret trial for treason have been in detention since their extradition from Angola on February 14.
Lawyers for the two men are appealing the decision to hold the trial in camera.
Under Nigerian law, treason offences attract the death penalty on conviction.
Okah is thought to have been, until his September 2007 arrest in Angola, spokesman for MEND. Little is known of Atatah's alleged militant activities.