LAGOS, July 10 (Xinhua) —
Nigeria’s main militant group in oil
rich Niger Delta region, the
Movement for the Emancipation of
the Niger Delta (MEND) on Sunday
said it has set up a peace broker
committee to mediate between
them and the government.
Jomo Gbomo, the group’s
spokesperson, said in a statement
reaching Xinhua that the
government has two-week
ultimatum to commence dialogue
with its “Aaron Team,” including a
repentant militant leader, High
Chief Government Ekpemupolo, aka
Tompolo, to end the bombing of oil
installations and Niger Delta
militancy.
MEND declared that the dialogue
must not be coordinated by the
Office of the National Security
Adviser (NSA), since most of the
issues surrounding the Niger Delta
question were on the exclusive
legislative list and the proposed
dialogue was not an interrogatory
session.
The group described members of
the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) as
criminals, who had been holding
the Nigerian government to ransom
and forcing concessions.
The NDA members, according to
MEND, also engage in militancy for
their own personal aggrandizement.
The militant group expressed
displeasure that successive
governments and the International
Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in
the crude oil and gas-rich Niger
Delta had repeatedly reneged on
agreements entered into with the
people of the region and also
owing the Niger Delta Development
Commission (NDDC) billions of
naira in withheld funds.
The group also stated that it
stopped attacks on oil installations
more than two years ago, when the
group unilaterally declared a
ceasefire of hostilities on May 30,
2014 against Nigeria’s key
economic and strategic interests.
According to MEND, since it
declared ceasefire, it had
relentlessly sought to engage the
government in a sincere dialogue
on the release of those it described
as “Prisoners of Conscience,”
including Henry and Charles Okah,
as well as addressing the root
issues bedeviling the Niger Delta,
without success.
The militant group also hoped that
the government would reach out to
the Aaron Team Leader, to signal
government’s intention to
commence the dialogue.
MEND added that if after the two-
week ultimatum and it did not hear
from the Nigerian government, the
militant group would assume that
the Mohammad Buhari’s
administration was truly not sincere
about dialogue on the Niger Delta
question, but would prefer to
respond only to the threat of
violence or industrial action.
The group has been known for
carrying out attacks on
international oil companies in the
Niger Delta, engaging in actions
including sabotage, theft, property
destruction, guerrilla warfare and
kidnapping.
In June 2009, the Nigerian
government offered amnesty to
gunmen in the oil rich Niger Delta
region, urging them to lay down
their weapons by Oct. 4 in a bid to
end unrest, which has cost Africa’s
top oil exporter billions of dollars
in lost revenue.
Scores of Nigerian armed youth
gave up their weapons and
embraced amnesty offered by the
Nigerian government in the most
concerted effort yet to end years of
fighting in the oil-rich producing
region.
The Niger Delta is an unstable area
where inter-ethnic clashes are
commonplace. Access to oil
revenue is the trigger for the
violence. Over 300 foreigners have
been seized in the Niger Delta since
2006. Almost all have been
released unharmed after paying a
ransom.
The unrest in the region has forced
many international firms to flee the
area. The government mobilized the
Nigerian army and coast guard in
an anti-banditry operation.
Enditem

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