The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) says it will back off from its commitment to peace talks if the federal government dialogues with Edwin Clark, a Niger Delta leader, as planned by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
In a statement released by Jomo Gbomo, its spokesman, on Monday, MEND said would only recognise the Peace and Development Initiative headed by Odein Ajumogobia inaugurated in June.
It described NDA’s decision to name a separate dialogue team headed by Clark as “hasty, premature and capable of sending wrong signals to the federal government that the Niger Delta region is polarized and therefore incapable of speaking with a single voice under a single umbrella body”.
It said it would not accept NDA, their patrons, sponsors, supporters and sympathizers until they all “publicly renounce all forms hostility against Nigeria”.
MEND also warned that if the federal government chooses to hold a separate dialogue with the NDA team led by Clark it would immediately disband the AARON TEAM 2 and pull out of the ongoing talks.
THE FULL STATEMENT
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) welcomes the recent decision by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to ceasefire and dialogue with the Federal Government. It is a move we have repeatedly canvassed since April 2016, given our stance that criminal attacks on oil installations as a strategy to force concessions from Government was no longer fashionable; given also, the fact that MEND has since May 30, 2014 ceased all forms of hostility against Nigeria’s economic and strategic assets.
However, the NDA decision to name a separate dialogue team headed by Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark was hasty, premature and capable of sending wrong signals to the Federal Government that the Niger Delta region is polarized and therefore incapable of speaking with a single voice under a single umbrella body.
We reasonably believe that the NDA, Chief Clark, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and others who attended the Friday, August 19, 2016 Niger Delta Coastal States’ stakeholders meeting jointly convened by Chief Clark and Governor Okowa knew full well that the MEND AARON TEAM 2 Dialogue, Peace and Development Initiative headed by His Excellency, Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia, SAN was inaugurated by MEND on June 12, 2016.
We also reasonably believe that these earlier-mentioned persons and stakeholders are aware that the Federal Government of Nigeria has been engaged in preliminary talks with MEND with a view to resolving the current Niger Delta crisis, as duly confirmed by no less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari. As a matter of fact, MEND has so far, been able to secure some very critical concessions from the Federal Government in the ongoing talks.
The final phase of the talks shall, however, be concluded by the MEND AARON TEAM led by Mr. Ajumogobia.
In the light of these developments, we want to believe that Chief Edwin Clark shall respect himself as an elder statesman by refraining from accepting to lead a so-called “NDA delegation” to non-existent talks with the Federal Government. If Chief Clark accepted such an appointment, then Nigerians and the international community shall be left with no option than to believe that truly, he was the mastermind and evil genius of the spate of NDA attacks on oil installations which have greatly contributed to destabilize the current Administration, blighted Nigeria’s oil production capacity and thereby, CAUSED ECONOMIC HARDSHIP on innocent Nigerians.
It is imperative to emphasize that the Federal Government of Nigeria MUST NOT SET A PRECEDENT OF DIALOGUE WITH CRIMINALS. If, on the contrary, the Federal Government chooses to hold a separate dialogue with the NDA team led by Chief Clark, MEND shall immediately disband the AARON TEAM 2 and pull out of the ongoing talks. We insist that the NDA, their patrons, sponsors, supporters and sympathizers are criminals and haters of the current Administration (as revealed by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers – RNDA) who must PUBLICLY RENOUNCE ALL FORMS OF HOSTILITY AGAINST NIGERIA. Once this is done, MEND shall embrace the NDA and their co-travelers.
At almost 90 years of age, we believe that Chief Edwin Clark cannot reasonably stand the rigours associated with dialogue and negotiation of the Niger Delta question. Chief Clark must not head every civil society initiative in the Niger Delta. Following his appointment by NDA (assuming he decided to accept), we expected Chief Clark to lead his team to pledge allegiance to the MEND AARON TEAM who are patiently waiting on the sidelines to meet President Buhari in the next couple of days to chart a course for the beleaguered region.