No More Dialogue With Govt., MEND Tells Buhari | Independent Newspapers Limited
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No More Dialogue With Govt., MEND Tells Buhari

Posted: Jul 11, 2016 at 4:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

…Threatens To Resume Hostilities


Daniel Abia

P/Harcourt – The possibility of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) joining forces with other militant groups in the Niger Delta to continue the oil war in the region became imminent at the weekend as MEND has announced its decision to pull out of the proposed dialogue with the Federal Government.

Jomo Gbomo, spokesman of MEND, said Sunday that, though, it had selected an Aaron team that would dialogue with the Federal Government on the region’s development, it was not ready to hold talks with the Office of the National Security Adviser, an office, it said, lacked executive powers.

MEND declared that the Niger Delta issue was on the exclusive legislative list, adding that the proposed “dialogue was not expected to be an interrogatory session”.

The militant group had earlier listed the names in the Aaron Team to include Henry Odein Ajumogobia (Rivers), team leader; Bismark Jemide Rewane (Delta), awaiting re-confirmation; Senator Florence Ita-Giwa (Cross River); and High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Delta), awaiting confirmation.

Also recommended include Ledum Mitee (Rivers); Lawson Omokhodion (Edo); Ibanga Isine (Akwa Ibom); Senator Adolphus Wabara (Abia); Alfred Isename (Edo); and Timipa Jenkins Okponipere (Bayelsa), team secretary. However, Omokhodion had opted out of the dialogue team.

“We, therefore, hope that the Federal Government shall reach out to the Aaron Team Leader, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, to signal government intention to commence the dialogue.

“If after two weeks from the date of publication of this Right of Reply, we don’t hear from the Federal Government, MEND shall safely assume that the government is truly not sincere about the dialogue on the Niger Delta question and responds only to the threat of violence or industrial action,” MEND said.

On the alleged hiring of foreign mercenaries by the Federal Government from Saudi Arabia at the cost of US$258 million to fight the Niger Delta militants, an Ijaw elder said this can never be the best option for the present situation.

Speaking exclusively in a telephone interview on Sunday, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, former Security Adviser in Rivers State, said all parties involved in the crisis in the Niger Delta should apply caution.

He said that “MEND has no role to play in the present circumstance. Niger Delta Avengers are not interested in money like MEND did in their own time. Those extracting money from the government should be very careful because this fight is all about the development of the region.

“On the issue of bringing mercenaries, this cannot work here. This is guerilla warfare. It will only aggravate the already bad situation in the Niger Delta and it will worsen the nation’s economy.

“Former MEND is dead. If they are regrouping, they should say so. Avengers are fighting for employment, development and infrastructure of the region. They don’t want money. These are what they want”, Sara-Igbe said.

Meanwhile, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), an apex body of the Ogoni in Rivers State, may be set to do battle with the Federal Government following an alleged attempt by the national oil company, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), to resume oil operations in Ogoniland.

This is coming even at a time the Ogoni people are expecting the Federal Government to move with some speed in the implementation of the monumental re-mediation and restoration of the over-polluted Ogoni environment.

MOSOP, after its Congress at Bori, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, at the weekend, observed that many sensitive issues in the entire Shell’s asset de-investment and acquisition plans were shrouded in secrecy and needed to be thoroughly examined.

The group stated in a statement that the present attempt may be a ploy by Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), both of which ‘are joint venture partners’ to cause division amongst Ogoni people and derail the Ogoni environmental remediation and restoration process,” MOSOP said in a statement.

It called Ogoni citizens to refrain from or be wary of any engagement relating to the reopening of oil exploration and production in Ogoniland until the issues of Ogoni environmental rejuvenation had been properly addressed.

While appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari for the flag-off ceremony for the implementation of the recommendations of UNEP report on Ogoniland, MOSOP frowned at the slow pace of work at the site of the project.

It, however, urged the government to speedily put into place the governance structure for the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland without further delay

The special Ogoni congress also condemned the deplorable state of insecurity in Ogoniland occasioned by kidnapping, violence and robbery and the latest invasion of some Ogoni communities, particularly Kporghor, Kira and Borobara, by her Okrika neighbours.

While calling on government at all levels, particularly the federal and Rivers State governments to ensure the provision of necessary logistics and machinery for security agencies to respond appropriately to the situation, the congress called on the various governments to fundamentally address the security problem to the roots, particularly as regards the small arms proliferation, drug abuse, mass poverty, mass destitution, unemployment and the expansionist tendencies of some ethnic groups in the state.

The congress also urged the security agencies operating in the area to develop appropriate security plans and intelligence gathering strategies to guarantee apt and fitting response to the security challenges in the area.

MOSOP charged “all traditional rulers and youths in the area to integrate security issues into the development plans of their communities and work tirelessly and collaboratively with security agencies to stamp out criminal gangs from our communities.”

It would be recalled that the UNEP report implementation was officially flagged off on June 2, 2016, by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at Bodo Community.