Niger Delta Avengers give governors condition, ultimatum for dialogue

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    militants-300x200The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has issued a “last warning” to seven state governors to free pro-Biafra activists being held in police and military formations in their states or face dire consequences.
    It also dismissed the peace team set up by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to negotiate with the Federal Government on behalf of the Niger Delta people.
    The affected governors include Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Willie Obiano (Anambra), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia state).
    However, in a surprise move, yesterday, the group which has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on oil and gas installations across the Niger Delta, and frowned at several calls for talks, said it was ready to engage the Nigerian government in dialogue.
    NDA, in a statement signed by the its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, said it was ready to negotiate with the government if there are good grounds for such deliberation.
    The group, however, said it was yet to see any signs the government had made new concessions.
    “The high command of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is using this medium to restate that there are no new items to put on the table for dialogue, we only want a genuine attitude and conducive atmosphere that will make us commit to any proposed dialogue and last peace talk,” Mr. Agbinibo wrote in a statement posted on the Avengers’ Website yesterday.
    It is the first time the group has shown any interest discussing with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
    The latest decision came barely a week after the government ordered troops in the oil-rich region to end onslaught against the militants.
    In a related development, MEND had on Sunday night in a statement issued by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo asked NDA to stop the bombing of oil installations which it insisted, is inimical to the interest of the Niger Delta people, even as it named a seven-man committee, Aaron Team 2 to dialogue with the Federal Government on behalf of all militants in the region.
    The militant group while throwing its weight behind the peace moves set up a committee named Aaron Team 2 to dialogue with the Federal Government on behalf of all militants in the region.
    On the list are Henry Odein Ajumogobia (Rivers), Bismark Rewane (Delta), Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River), Timipa Jenkins Okponipere (Bayelsa), Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom), Ledum Mitee (Rivers) and Lawson Omokhodion (Edo).
    MEND stated that the seven nominees accepted to serve, noting that other members of the team shall be made public after due consultations with relevant stakeholders.
    The ex-militant group gloated that within the past 10 years of its existence, MEND resorted to taking up arms against the Nigerian state and the international oil companies with a view to bringing to national and international attention, the pitiable paradox of the region.
    Gbomo stated MEND had been carrying out daring attacks including the “June 19, 2008 spectacular attack on Royal Dutch Shell’s offshore Bonga oilfield located at a distance of 120 kilometres (75miles) South-West of the Niger Delta.”
    Regrettably, MEND stated that its numerous sabotage of oil installations did not achieve the desired result of a new lease of life for residents in the region, hence, it “unilaterally declared a ceasefire of hostilities against Nigeria’s key economic and strategic interests” on May 30, 2014 after former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Democracy Day speech of the previous day.
    “Evidently, the ceasefire was an indication of the group’s belief that, in this present age and time, ‘iron and blood’ might only become fashionable tools in settling questions when dialogue and diplomacy fail.”
    However, NDA wondered why it would be MEND that would set up negotiating team for it.
    It denied knowledge of any “Aaron 1 or Aaron team”, noting that its struggle for the emancipation of the Niger Delta was still on.
    “We request the immediate release of all pro-Biafrans activist held in your various Police/Military Custody, you are hereby given 72 hours to release them or risk your convoys, police station, and military base and government offices being attacked. We are not negotiating with anybody and nobody is representing us. In 48 hours, we will release a video clip showing our arms and the targeted areas. All strike team already in position awaiting command,” it said.
    This is even as the defunct Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF) warned the NDA to stop using its emails to send threat messages to the Federal Government.
    Its spokesman, Mark Anthony assured President Muhammadu Buhari that former members of NDLF would work with the Federal Government to ensure that the proposed Niger Delta Republic do not materialise.
    Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel has charged the Federal Government to urgently open a line of dialogue with the NDA to save the nation from impending economic doom occasioned by the activities of the group.
    Emmanuel who spoke during the town hall meeting (South-South) hosted by the Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Uyo, yesterday said government should do all it can to engage and dialogue with the militants as the nation’s economy is based on the resources accruable from the region.
    He, however, lamented that Akwa Ibom being the leading oil producing state in the nation, has no depot.
    “We have to travel to Port Harcourt and Calabar respectively to load petroleum products and this has caused hardship to our people. I hope the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, my good friend and Brother, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu will look into this and help us,” he said. -The Sun