By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
For a long time, Plake would search the Internet every morning for news of Egbema One or MEND. Not anymore.
Earlier this year, Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua granted amnesty to a host of militants in the Niger Delta. According to Vanguard, a news publication covering the country, Egbema One was on the amnesty list. Yar'Adua has also reportedly directed his government to step up its efforts to rebuild and develop the region. But still, the violence only seems to increase. MEND has recently taken credit for a rash of pipeline bombings against Shell and Chevron, propelling Chevron to evacuate hundreds of employees from the area, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The group continues to wage attacks against the oil companies, claiming that amnesty is not enough to solve the long-standing problems.
The irony of it all is not lost on Plake.
"The group I had heard about and was most afraid of, MEND, were the ones who ended up rescuing us," he says. "I've been told it never happened before or ever since. I understand their plight more now and the reason why they do all this. I'm very appreciative because no one else was coming to get us. But the bottom line is that I got out. I'm here now, and I'm staying put."