The Federal Government has finally kick started its proposed dialogue with Niger Delta militants in a bid to avert further attacks on oil installations in the region.
A team led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, alongside Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, met behind closed doors with representatives of different groups on Wednesday night.
According to reports, the federal government delegation and Okowa met with representatives of Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), Chief Ayiri Emami and other stakeholders at the Delta State Government House, Asaba.
It was however not certain if representatives of the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, which had claimed responsibility for most of the recent attacks on oil facilities in the region, attended the meeting.
The dialogue is coming despite objections from former militant leaders and the Pa JOS Ayomike-led Itsekiri Leaders of Thought. Their objections are premised on the fact that such a move will encourage further destruction of oil facilities in the name of agitation.
Confirming the development, Tompolo’s Media Consultant, Comrade Paul Bebenimibo, disclosed that Tompolo was represented by Chief Dan Ekpebide while a prominent member of the Gbaramatu Traditional Council, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, represented the kingdom.
Chief Ekpebide, who confirmed his attendance of the meeting, however failed to disclose any details.
However, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, said their participation in the meeting does not in any way confirm that the militants were from Gbaramatu Kingdom.
Read also: New militant group vows to blow up gas plant
He said: “We held a meeting with the minister and the governor as representatives of Gbaramatu Traditional Council and we assured the minister of our resolve to work with the Federal Government for peace.
“It is a continuation of the meetings that the minister has held in Akwa Ibom and other parts. It does not mean that those attacking oil installations are from Gbaramatu. We are people from the riverside areas where these attacks occur that is why we were invited.”
A source close to the meeting also disclosed that the minister and the governor met separately with the various interest groups, including representatives of Tompolo, Chief Ayiri Emami and other Itsekiri leaders in the area.
“It is difficult to ascertain the kernel of the discussion because Governor Okowa and the minister met separately with the various groups and their discussions were in secret, without third parties.
“What I heard was that the minister and the governor impressed on the protagonists that there is need to sheathe their swords and allow the government time to fashion out a way to address the issues affecting the region,” the source said.
It was also gathered that representatives of Tompolo restated his earlier stand that he has nothing to do with the NDA, while one of the major demands of the Gbaramatu people is the take-off of the NIMASA University.
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