ZAM Reporter

The two faces of a human rights activist

Dutch-resident Nigerian ‘Comrade’ Sunny Ofehe, portrayed last June 2014 in the ZAM Chronicle, stands accused of fraud and human traffic. The Dutch daily newspaper Trouw of 30 October, reporting on the current court case against Ofehe in the Netherlands, calls him a suspect ‘with two faces’.

In development aid and some NGO circles in the Netherlands, Ofehe is known as a human rights activist who has dedicated his life to fighting for the people of the polluted Niger Delta and against oil company Shell, which he holds mainly responsible for the ills in that region. (The ZAM Chronicle has presented a much more complex and nuanced report on the Niger Delta by Nigerian investigative journalist Nnamdi Onyeuma.)

In the ZAM Chronicle interview by Christina Mansson, ‘Comrade’ Sunny was also asked about the mysterious kidnapping of himself and a number of Dutch nationals by Niger Delta militants during a visit to the region in the previous month. He then responded that the kidnapping, for which 45, 000 Euros were forked out in ransom, might have been prompted by ‘someone in our own midst’. But his fans stayed true. “We are not deterred, nor shaking (sic) by rumours. The path Comrade Sunny Ofehe has chosen is driven by motivation, commitment, and genuine burning desire for change”, said a friend on his ‘I was present at Comrade Sunny Ofehe’s Court Session’ Facebook group of 112 members.

The Dutch prosecution authority now says it has evidence that, over the years Ofehe has received more than 350,000 Euros in ‘unexplained amounts’ via several bank accounts and money transfers. It also accuses him of forgery. This accusation concerns pay slips and an employment contract which he submitted for the establishment of his Foundation ‘Hope for Niger Delta Campaign’. The prosecution says these papers were fraudulent because Ofehe was not formally employed and received welfare unemployment pay outs at the time.

The human traffic accusation concerns an Amsterdam airport pick-up and hosting address allegedly provided by Ofehe for a Nigerian woman on her way to sex industry work in Italy.