A split in the ranks of Niger Delta agitators has emerged, with a popular militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) sharply disagreeing and walking out of a coalition, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDF).
PANDEF had three days earlier threatened to pull out of peace talks with the Federal Government if nothing was done to its 16 point agenda after November 1. But in apparent response, the Yemi Osinbajo-led presidency had quickly agreed to a meeting for today, Thursday, to address perceived agitations.
What is still unclear are the political manoeverings that may have informed the sudden withdrawal of support by some militants groups in the region from the umbrella body, PANDEF, which is led by Edwin Clark.
On Wednesday, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, (MEND) and the Reformed Egbesu Assembly (REF) served notice of withdrawal of their mandate from the forum.
MEND in a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, said it was saddened by the November 1, ultimatum issued the Nigeria and wondered the moral justification Clark and King Alfred Diete-Spiff group had to issue such ultimatum.
MEND had argued that PANDEF was wrong to have given an ultimatum to the Federal Government when it failed to do same to Goodluck Jonathan.
It said as follows: “Instead of listening to the so-called Niger Delta activists and the compromised Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), who have miraculously regained the voices they lost when Jonathan was President and instead of issuing threats through fake internet-based militant groups, PANDEF ought to have used the forum and opportunity to commend the Federal Government for exposing the monumental looting of our commonwealth by some sons and daughters of the soil.
“PANDEF is also pretending not to notice that the Amnesty Programme is still operating on the corrupt template that still pays ghost militants after it hoodwinked the government into believing in the fraud.
“The programme has neglected the children of dead and imprisoned freedom fighters, for those that never made any sacrifice to the cause,” MEND contended.
On its part, the Reformed Egbesu Assembly, speaking through its General Officer Commanding, Tony Alagbakereowei, said PANDEF has lost its relevance in the scheme of things in the region and cannot be responsible for the people.
Aside the positions of MEND and REF, other groups in the region have also opposed PANDEF, but not on the same tone. They want a Niger Delta Republic.
For the groups PANDEF should no longer speak of dialogue for peace with the Nigerian Government as that had already been overtaken by event.
The groups want PANDEF to insist on referendum and a declaration of Niger Delta Republic.
The groups, Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria, (NDSWON); Ijaw People’s Development Initiative (IPDI); Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusaders, (FOHURAC), and Ijaw Human Rights Monitors (IHRM), led by Dickson Bekederemo, Austin Ozobo, Alaowei Cleric and Fred Brisibe, respectively, made their position known on Wednesday
in Warri, Delta State.
“It is our clarion demand that PANDEF stop any further dialogue with the government. We did not ask PANDEF to give Federal Government a November 1 ultimatum to begin a dialogue process. Such ultimatum appears to be a face-saving move invented by a people not respected by the government of the day,” they said.
Another group, Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders (NDRC) had also on Wednesday said that the November 1 ultimatum by PANDEF, to discontinue dialogue with the Federal Government was unnecessary.
Read also : N/Delta set to boil as leaders join militants, threaten to stall peace process if…
NDRC said such threat was not needful any longer because they were not going to back out on their resolve to resume fresh attacks on oil installations by September 30.
The group said in a statement by its spokesperson, W. O. I. Izon-Ebi, “PANDEF’s November 1 ultimatum is not going to be, because we stand by our September 1ultimatum and we know that there is no September 31 (sic) in the calendar of the year.
“But we simply mean that there will be no October 1 Independence Day celebration without Nigeria feeling an iota of our angst.
“The November 1 of PANDEF will not hold because September 31 (sic)will be that D-Day that even the PANDEF will realise how wicked the Nigerian government is to the people of the Niger Delta because of our God -given resources.”
In the midst of all these PANDEF and Acting President Osinbajo meet today.
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