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Monsters and Critics.com: Released oil workers handed over to Shell director

Four expatriate oil workers abducted by gunmen from a Shell Petroleum Development Company facility in Nigeria nearly three weeks ago were handed over to Shell's managing director on Monday, hours after their release.
The four, named as Briton Nigel Watson-Clark, Bulgarian Milko Nichev, Harry Ebanks from Honduras and U.S. national Patrick Handry, were released in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, before being welcomed by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Handing the freed hostages over to Shell managing director Basil Omiyi, Obasanjo said his administration would not be blackmailed by criminals.
'No self-respecting government will give into blackmail, intimidation or threat,' he said. 'This incident only exposed them (the militants) for what they are…criminals. I hope they have seen the futility of their actions.'
He added that his government was working on a new strategy to prevent similar kidnappings in future.
'I want to assure you and the international community that we will try to prevent the recurrence of this kind of incident,' he told the hostages, while appealing to the media 'to stop glorifying people who have done bad, you are undermining the security of the country.'
The kidnappers, a previously unknown militia group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the People of the Niger Delta, originally said it would only release the men if the government freed two detained leaders of the ethnic Ijaw group.
A Foreign Office spokesman in London confirmed the release earlier Monday, saying: 'The men are free. They are in the hands of Nigerian officials.'
Earlier, Nigerian Army Major Said Ahmed, spokesman for 'Operation Restore Hope,' a special military unit aiding police in the Niger Delta, had also confirmed the release.
The kidnappers were reportedly demanding ransom money as well as the release of two people currently on trial in Abuja.
Reports in London said the kidnappers' conditions were not met before the hostages were released.
The abductors were demanding the immediate release of the impeached governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, on trial for embezzlement while in office.
It also demanded immediate freedom for a militant separatist leader, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who is standing trial for treason.
Dokubo-Asari led a bloody uprising in the Niger Delta in 2004 in a crusade to demand that Nigeria's oil resources be controlled by the oil-rich Delta region.
Nigeria's oil industry has been the target of militant attacks in recent weeks, with a January 15 bombing attack on Shell houseboats killing 13 people.
Gunmen also stormed the premises of another oil company in Port Harcourt over the weekend and stole the equivalent of 300,000 dollars.
The southern Niger delta is home to 90 per cent of Nigeria's oil reserves, making the populous West African nation one of the world's biggest oil exporters.
But some 20 million residents of the delta region have long complained they were not benefiting from the oil wealth, and that the pollution from frequent oil spills and gas flares had damaged the soil on which they rely for farming.

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