The end may not be in sight over the latest rounds of militancy in the oil rich Niger Delta, as the camp of militant groups in the region are split over Federal Government’s muted dialogue with stakeholders in the region.
This came to light as three militant groups, Reformed Egbesu Boys, Egbesu Water Lions and Egbesu Mythier Fraternity, Saturday, insisted that neither the Avengers nor the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, which raised a negotiation team, tagged Aaron Team 2, has their mandate to represent them in any dialogue with government.
The General Officer Commanding, GOC, Intelligence, Tony Alagbakeriowei, and GOC, Logistics and Admin, General Ebi Abakoromor, in a statement on behalf of the three militant groups, condemned the NDA and MEND, adding that the preliminary discussions so far by government officials was tilted towards Avengers and a particular former militant leader.
The groups vowed to cause mayhem if they were ignored.
The statement, addressed to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, read: “We write on behalf of the Reformed Egbesu Boys of the Niger Delta, Egbesu Water Lions and Egbesu Mythier Fraternity to bring to the urgent attention of the Federal Government that the negotiation with the Avengers is lopsided.
“It will be recalled that various militant groups make up the Niger Delta Avengers and we were taken aback that the Federal Government team is negotiating with Gbaramatu kingdom representatives only.
“Be reminded that this current crisis is not a particular ex-militant leader affair and, therefore, Gbaramatu representatives cannot negotiate with the Federal Government to the exclusion of other active participants in the crisis.
“Consequently, we warn that the negotiation team be expanded to include various active group reps that participated in this current crisis. Failure to heed this wise counsel, aggrieved stakeholders will resort to doing what we know best.
“When the need for the cessation of hostilities arose as a result of pleas arising from national and international sources, the Reformed Egbesu Boys of the Niger Delta were the first to unilaterally declare ceasefire.”
They groups also said it was concerned that the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, was in favour of some militant leaders to the exclusion of other participants.
“This is the scenario now unfolding, we object to this with all our might.”
On MEND’s Aaron Team 2, the three Egbesu militants groups insisted that MEND exists only on the pages of newspaper and hotels rooms in Abuja and, therefore, could not speak for militant groups in the region.
“We condemn in strong terms the emerging trend where those in MEND, who took to kidnapping and hostage-taking to criminalise the legitimate agitation and had since been disbanded and accepted the poorly coordinated Amnesty Programme, are now seeking relevance and purporting to have raised a negotiation team to dialogue with the federal government.
“This is most ridiculous, embarrassing and nonsensical to say the least. MEND exists only on newspaper pages and hotel rooms in Abuja. We are taken aback that those who collectively destroyed the struggle want to recruit very respected elders for sinister motives.
“If the Federal Government negotiates with the purported MEND team as published, the consequences would be fatal and devastating to the multinationals as usual. We ceased hostilities in the larger collective interest of the Niger Delta environment, security of the people of the Niger Delta and the economic stability of the Nigerian state and the world at large.
“We wish to warn that the Ijaw nation is and shall not be taken as cannon fodder to the other ethnic nationalities as we are seen to be. We are branded criminals and all sorts of name-calling, but when the Federal Government calls for dialogue, our traditional antagonists and agent provocateurs would be the first to present them for dialogue.”
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