Monday, 13 June 2016

Rivalry In The Camp of Niger Delta Militants Widens 

There an apparent crack in the camp of the Niger Delta militant groups bombing oil installations in the Niger Delta as one of the militant groups known as the Reformed Egbesu Boys of Niger Delta, unilaterally declared cessation of hostilities. 

However the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) last night, raised a seven-man provisional team, tagged Aaron Team 2, to negotiate with the Federal Government just as it charged the Niger Delta Avengers to drop its defiant posture and embrace dialogue. 

This came as traditional rulers from Niger Delta, under the aegis of the South-South Monarchs Forum, have scheduled a meeting in Uyo next week to discuss ways of finding solutions to the increasing spate of destruction of oil and gas assets in the region. 

The Joint Revolutionary Council, JRC, of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF, had, Friday, indicated it had accepted the window created by the Federal Government for dialogue, but the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, insists it was not part of the negotiations. It was revealed yesterday, that government negotiators had penetrated many of the militant groups and many would likely declare cessation of hostilities during the week and embrace dialogue with government. 

Many of the Niger Delta militants were furious that some powerful forces have hijacked the struggle to the detriment of the region and were merely using them as bargaining tool. The Reformed Egbesu Boys of Niger Delta is at loggerheads with the NDA and JNDLF over their positions. 

While it is on the same page with JNDLF on cessation of hostilities, it disagreed with it on the release of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, and former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), and other conditions. 

Warns Tompolo, Ateke Tom, Boyloaf to stay off negotiations. 

The group warned those it described as old generation of Ijaw activists, namely Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, Ateke Tom, General Boyloaf, General Africanus Ukpaparasia and others, “not to meddle in this ongoing process.” 

Leaders of the group, General Tony Alagbakeriowei and Commander Ebi Abakoromor, in a statement, said: “We align ourselves with the unilateral declaration of cessation of hostilities on oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta by various militant organizations. “We are in total support of the Federal Government option of dialogue, taking into cognizance the numerous appeals from both local and international platforms. 

In as much as we have considered this option, we wish to reaffirm that the Ijaws have never been a conquered people. 

“The Reformed Egbesu Boys of Niger Delta wishes to state that we are not comfortable with some aspects of the demands contained in the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Forces as published in the mass media and the Avengers.

Disagrees with Avengers, JNDLF on Kanu, Dasuki “The Niger Delta agitation is not about persons as portrayed in the said publication. 

The Ijaw agitation has always been issues of resource control and true federalism and inequality where our farmlands have been divided into oil blocks among Nigerians to the exclusion of the Ijaws.“Therefore, the legitimate agitation of the Ijaw ethnic nationality has nothing to do with Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu, though we sympathize with them.”

The militant group differed with the inflexible stance of the Avengers on former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo. 

It stated: “The former commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Government Ekpemupolo, is one of the symbols of our struggle. “We strongly recommend that a political solution be explored by the negotiation team to resolve his issues with the Federal Government.” 

Reformed Egbesu demands For peace to hold way, it tabled seven demands before government, including commencement of academic activities at the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State and restructuring of the Amnesty programme with upward review of funding to accommodate more beneficiaries. 

The militant group called for the sacking of the Coordinator of the Amnesty programme and Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (retd), saying he lacked the experience to effectively coordinate the programme. 

“We, therefore, pass a vote of no confidence on him,” the group said. Other demands made by the group include increase in derivation to 50 per cent and payment of 50 per cent directly to the communities through appropriate structures; release of all persons currently in detention facilities, dropping and pardoning of persons detained and creation of Niger Delta Investment and Development Bank. 

It said: “Pipeline surveillance contracts should be reserved for the current agitating youths because Nigeria cannot safeguard these facilities; and the oil majors and related agencies, such as NNPC, PTDF, NPDC and NSPIMS should create 6,000 job slots.” 

True federalism “In conclusion, we wish to reaffirm the Ijaw position of true federalism within a restructured state and the Federal Government should immediately activate the necessary platform. 
We warn the Federal Government to be sincere and committed to the peace process and to state that any deviation would lead to resumption of hostilities.” 

NDA still maintains ‘no negotiation’ stance. 

At press time, Niger Delta Avengers had not reviewed its ‘no negotiation’ stand, but had refrained from bombing more installations. 

Its last outing was on June 9 when one of its strike teams blew up a major trunk line, Obi Brass, belonging to Agip ENI in Bayelsa State. On May 12, spokesperson of the Avengers, Brig General Murdoch Agbinibo, said: “By October 2016, we will display our currency, flag, passport, our ruling council and our territory to the world.” 

Not many militants and Niger Deltans share such aspiration. However, other demands of the group include implementation of report of the 2014 National Conference, 60:40 percent ownership of oil blocs in favour of oil producing communities, proper funding of amnesty programme, trial of APC members allegedly indicted for corruption, unconditional release of Kanu and take-off of Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko. 

Meanwhile, the Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, yesterday, said the fusion of the various ethnic nationalities in the Nigeria marriage was no longer compatible, adding that except the country was restructured, it would drift into major crisis in the nearest future.” 

National President of the assembly, Austin Ozobo, said: “Nigeria cannot afford to survive the myriad of problems threatening its peaceful co-existence, ranging from Boko Haram, Biafra, herdsmen and N-Delta agitation for self-determination. MEND raises 7-man team to dialogue with FG MEND, in a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, said: “Members of the MEND Aaron Team 2 are by no means members of MEND. 

The provisional list of members of the team, who have already accepted to serve, include: Henry Odein Ajumogobia, SAN (Rivers), Bismark Rewane (Delta), Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River), Timipa Jenkins Okponipere (Bayelsa), Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom), Ledum Mitee (Rivers) and Lawson Omokhodion (Edo State). 

“Following useful exploratory discussions held with high ranking officials of the current administration, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has constituted ‘Aaron Team 2’ to dialogue with the Federal Government on the immediate, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta.” 

It explained that the team was made up of patriotic and selfless men and women of proven track record, integrity and character; and drawn from different parts of the Niger Delta. MEND said: “Other members of the team shall be made public in due course after due consultations with relevant stakeholders. 

“Our message to the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) is simple: The Niger Delta struggle is beyond attacks on oil installations. Indeed, prior to the MEND ceasefire, the group had, among numerous daring attacks, on Thursday, June 19, 2008, successfully carried out the spectacular attack on Royal Dutch Shell’s offshore Bonga oilfield which is located at a distance of 120 kilometres (75miles) south-west of the Niger Delta. 

“However, with the benevolent benefit of hindsight, the group realized that, after the initial euphoria of each successful attack, the gargantuan problems which confront our region, including environmental pollution and political corruption, increased geometrically.” 

South-South monarchs meet in Uyo Meanwhile, traditional rulers from the Niger Delta, under the aegis of the South-South Monarchs Forum, are to meet in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, next week, to discuss ways of finding solutions to the increasing spate of destruction of oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta Region. 

In a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, Chairman of the forum, Dr Edmund Daukoru Mingi XII, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, explained that the decision to convene the Niger Delta Traditional Rulers Security Summit was taken after an emergency meeting of the forum in Port Harcourt, weekend. 

According to him, the security summit, with the theme: “Institutionalizing an Integrative Architecture for Systemizing Domestic Security Management in the Niger Delta Region,” will hold at the Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State from June 27-29, 2016.

Culled from: Vanguard newspaper

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